No fun family stories left. I have been at the training center in Thies since Sunday evening, and I have been going to tech classes (for ag) and seminars and getting shots.
Today Chris, the country director, visited us and lectured about the role of PCVs here in Senegal. It was really interesting. I think he has done a lot for PC/Senegal, and it sucks that country directors can only have their job for five years (it’s the rule).
The last few days I have done a lot of ag stuff. Today was crazy. We went into THE RED ZONE and walked around a landfill to collect containers to grow stuff in. A big part of urban ag is creatively growing plants in places you can’t normally (i.e. cities). Tire gardening is really popular (growing spices, flowers, etc. in old, used tired), as well as table-top beds that can sit on rooftops. We walked around and brought stuff back. We ended up planting stuff in the CRAZIEST places. We found an old cheetah print backpack (pink) and filled it with soil and manure and hung it from the basketball hoop (made me think of you, Mary B). We lined it with plastic and are gonna grow mint in it. We also used old candy containers, a hat, an old shoe, a kettle, and random plastic buckets. It was super innovative, and it made me think outside the box. Got me excited about urban ag.
Speaking of urban ag, I heard some gossip about site placement! There are 3 people speaking Pulaar and 7 people learning Wolof in Urban Ag. The PC knows which sites we are going to, but they don’t know which people are going where. I heard the different places the Wolof speakers are going, so I have kind of narrowed down (a little) where I will serve for two years. Two people are going to the Louga region (north of Thies but south of Saint-Louis). You guys should probably pull up a map of Senegal. It’ll help. One person is going to Dakar, which is CRAZY because Dakar is huge. One person is staying here in Thies (which I kind of want to do because the other urban ag volunteer here is super cool…plus the training center is here, and I like Thies). One person is going North to Saint-Louis, which is supposed to be gorgeous. I don’t know the others.
I have actually met a lot of current volunteers here in Senegal. They come through a lot to help with training, so I have met urban ag vols from all over the country. They are all from the stage from a year ago exactly, which means that, hopefully, this time next year I can return to the training center and teach the newbies what’s what. There hasn’t been one current volunteer I have not liked, which is good because I will be working with them for the next year of my life. Our paths will cross frequently (I hope).
This evening, a group of us went into town to the Bon Marche, which is the huge Western grocery store here. They have a lot of imported stuff from France. Most of it is crazy expensive (crazy expensive = over $5 in Senegal). I bought a huge bottle of shampoo for 500 CFA (less than $1) and a container for my bar soap, which was like 30 cents USD. We then went to a restaurant, where I had another beer. I want to try a lot of local beers. I tried La Gazelle last time, so this time I tried Castel, which was cheap and pretty good. We took a cab home, which was kinda scary, but I think I am gonna have to get used to the public transportation here.
I think I have already become less afraid. The first time we walked around Thies, I was super freaked out. Today, I felt a lot more comfortable. I am getting used to Senegal. It’s obviously COMPLETELY different from the U.S., and it has been an adjustment, but I know I can adjust properly and fully.
OH YEAH. Also, last night we played volleyball. I kicked ASS. I busted out my FL beach volleyball skills. Twas fun.
Tonight, we are playing MAFIA in the Disco Hut. EXCITED!