The DISCO HUT and the Longest 15 Minutes of My Life

Last night, after posting, I took a shower. There are girls bathrooms and boys bathrooms. The boys bathrooms have about 5 stalls with holes in the ground and 2 stalls with regular toilets. While I can, I am only using the flush toilets. The shower was amazing. No hot water, but I don’t need it. The water was freezing but felt AMAZING. Of course, after I got out and put on my UCF t-shirt/basketball shorts pajama combo, I was sweating, and my feet were covered in dirt. They said we couldn’t wear flip-flops, but they’re allowed in the compound, so I am constantly wearing them until I can’t.

So I went to bed last night at 11 PM, which means I crawled to the top-bunk of my room and got under my million degree mosquito net. I sleep on a thin mattress that is actually pretty comfortable. There is a ceiling fan in the room, but it basically moves the heat around. There are doors with screens on either end of the room for cross-ventilation, but it’s still hot as all get out. I know I said this in my FB picture, but if it’s 90 degrees outside, then it’s 100 degrees inside the rooms, and 110 degrees under the net. I sleep in a pool of sweat, but shockingly you get used to it (even me!).

The drugs/shots are interesting. I got yellow fever yesterday, and today I got meningitis (apparently Senegal is in the Meningitis Belt) and one other one. I forget. I am getting more on Monday, as well as in a couple weeks. I am taking 2 malaria pills. One is really strong but takes a while to build up. I take it once a week (on Wednesdays). I also have to take another malaria pill every day for the next two weeks because the other one takes so long. THE BEST PART: the pills give you crazy vivid/hallucinatory dreams. A current volunteer says you have all 5 senses in them. He said one time he was skiing in the dream and it was crazy. I am looking forward to it. I feel like, actually, I had one last night, but I can’t remember. The pills made me sleep well though. I woke up a few times hazily, like I was in a coma, then immediately fell back asleep. I will keep you folk updated with my dreams. WARNING: they may get epic. I also take a multivitamin every day. The nurse, Vonna, said the food is decent but doesn’t give you proper nutrition.

Last night we had spaghetti with “meat sauce” (or something) and a salad. The food is super flavorful. I am happy riding the good food wave while I can b/c apparently it’s only downhill from here. I carry water with me everywhere. I am always with my Nalgene. The water is usually warm (which I am fine with), but there IS a cold water cooler in the foyer, which is a room with a bunch of couches/chairs. It’s empty sometimes though. The foyer also has the book selection, which I haven’t looked at yet. I am stilling on HP7. I am here now, charging my laptop. There are only a couple of plugs, and two of them are here. The others are in the DISCO HUT, which is this huge pavilion where the groups have their meetings. It has cushions all around and straw mats to sit on. It’s called the DISCO HUT because apparently it used to have a disco ball hanging from the ceiling.

This morning I woke up at 7:30 AM and ate breakfast (more bread with jam), then we broke off into our individual programs. Apparently like 16 people thought they were be urban agriculture, but they were rural/sustainable, so they had to relocate to another seminar. There are only 10 urban aggies, which is SO small! We got an overview of the program from 3 current volunteers (one of them is actually asleep on the couch next to me lol).

We also had a health seminar. We learned about the water and how to treat it. We got our big water purifiers, which you can see pics of on FB. We got our medical kit, which has everything you need (sunscreen, Tylenol, chapstick, eye drops, etc.). The nurses said “no street food”, but later, all the current volunteers were like, “Street food is SO GOOD. You HAVE to eat it!” All meat must be well done and that’s it. No milk unless it’s powdered or canned. Only buy yogurt/milk/etc. if it’s made in a factory. Evidently men walk around with barrels filled with yogurt, so they told us not to buy some. PLEASE, I know sketchy, and that is SKETCHY. Yogurt that’s been baking in the sun for God knows how long? I’m good, thanks.

We had lunch today in another pavilion. We had rice with fish and vegetables. We ate from a huge bowl again (5 per bowl, don’t forget!). The food was yummy, and there were apples for dessert.

As busy as my morning was, this afternoon has been shockingly mellow. I had two appts: my language interview and my technical interview. The technical interview was with a senior volunteer (the one sleeping near me…he’s senior because he’s a 3rd year PCV). He asked me a bunch of questions and looked at my resume. The interview was to decide my placement! He asked me how far I was willing to travel (by bike) to see another volunteer, as well as my experience in agriculture. He said he had three sites in mind for me. He said one of them was near a river, and they were trying to restore it back to its’ natural habitat, which was filled with mangroves. I said I liked water and was willing to live in the mangroves. We will see where I end up.

AND THEN, THE LANGUAGE APPT. I got done about an hour ago, and it was SO STRESSFUL OMG. It was pretty much a language competency test. I sat in a pavilion with two local men, and they asked me to talk about myself…in French. They recorded it, too. I rambled on like a 4th grader, discussing how “I like books” and “I am American”. I “have to two sisters” and “my father is in the Army” (because I don’t know how to say “was”). We talked about basketball and American football. I asked him what his favorite basketball team was, and he said the Chicago Bulls, so I foolishly started telling him I met Marcus Jordan, who went to UCF. These words were WAY advanced for me, and every time I would say an English word, he would say “Je ne comprende pas”. I could NOT use English, which made discussing Marcus Jordan difficult. According to French Jamie, Marcus is “tall” and “has spectacles”. It was super embarrassing. I am sure I wasn’t the worst one, but it still sucked. He was probably laughing at me the whole time.

There are several local languages in Senegal, and it depends on where I’m placed what I will learn. I may learn French or Wolof, which are the two big languages, or may I learn some obscure local language. We will see.

So…this post has been super long. No more fluff for Jamie. I have plenty of information to fill this baby with. If you guys have any questions, ask in the comments, and I’ll answer in the next post. I should be able to answer, but of course, I still have a million questions myself. This whole thing is insane.

Au revoir!

PS: There are hammocks all around the training center for naps. Love it here.

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    • Gale (aka mama)
    • August 12th, 2010

    Hallucinatory dreams???? Don’t you already feel like you’re dreaming – and yet you’re awake? So, if I served dinner in one large bowl, the family would eat from it – no other dishes? Does that include utensils? If so, think of the dishes saved! I may start serving that way in honor of PC Jamie! Keep us grinning, it makes missing you easier (not less, just easier)!

    • Allyson
    • August 12th, 2010

    Boy! French and mangroves?? Sounds fantastic. I really hope you get that assignment cause mangroves are super cool/important and you’ll learn so much for when you come back here. Btw– I don’t believe you sleep in a bunk in your own sweat… After living with you for 3 yrs I know this is an impossibility.

    • Lindsey
    • August 12th, 2010

    My faves: ‘According to French Jamie, Marcus is “tall” and “has spectacles”’ and ‘No more fluff for Jamie.’ So basically I like when you talk about yourself in the 3rd person. Also, maybe be wary of living near a river? I’m thinking crocodiles, I’m thinking snakes, I’m thinking snakes big enough to eat crocodiles, etc.

    • Lindsey
    • August 12th, 2010

    Love the disclaimer by the way. Was blog etiquette discussed in the training?

    • The Amazon
    • August 12th, 2010

    I can’t wait for these dreams posts! ‘my father is in the Army” (because I don’t know how to say “was”) – Passe Compose is the easiest, but I think it’s – Mon pere etait dans l’armee (with accent marks who the hell knows where… I think). I love Allyson’s remark, I really don’t see you sleeping in a pool of sweat either love =]

  1. Eli and I miss you lots! Loving the blog- its delightful 🙂
    Watch out for snakes!!! LOVE T&E

  2. BTW I am apparently posting from Drews wordpress so yeah its not Drew its Tara

    • Sca-rah
    • August 12th, 2010

    So up until now I have been on here using my phone. Now I have my computer and guess who is in my favs! Just saying!

    • Lee Anne
    • August 12th, 2010

    Finally got caught up; (I thought I would get email updates but didn’t so I had to read several to know your adventures thus far.) That trip to Dakar is LONG as f… that was only half way for Emma and me so I feel your pain. I LOVE that you blog like you talk (the slashes especially remind me of the rhythm of your speech) and I’m sure you’re the only person I know who would so look forward to hallucinating in your dreams each night. Glad to hear you are fitting right in and dancing; that is so much a part of African life, communication and expression. You are still here in spirit and we miss you much 🙂 L A

    • Kittie
    • August 12th, 2010

    Wow! I’m thinking a lot like Lindsey on that snakes & crocodiles thing. So glad your dad posted the link to your blog so I could get in the loop with what’s up with Jamie:-D Btw-really impressed with & proud of you if that doesn’t sound too goofy. Have been thinking about you a lot since I knew this was coming up. Hope you have the time of your life. You’ve made me appreciate my A/C even more than usual LOL. Will be keeping you in my prayers to avoid all the things they have you taking pills for…however, looking forward to hearing about the hallucinogenic dreams! Much love & lots of hugs to you:-D

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