[insert creative title here]

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!

    • Lindsey
    • August 24th, 2010

    Don’t they take into account your preferences re: serving close to another volunteer rather than a more isolated post? It seems your choice in response to that – and your fellow aggies – would determine who went where.

      • jamiew1288
      • August 25th, 2010

      They take all that into consideration, L. I also found out that I could be in Linguere or Matam. I don’t really want to go to Matam because, if you look at a map, it’s INSANELY far away. I mean, I would probably be with other volunteers, but it’s on the way to nothing (except maybe Mauritania). So I could end up in: Linguere, Matam, Thies, Louga, and I think Sant-Louise.

    • Lindsey
    • August 25th, 2010

    Also, I almost told you today we needed some more Chuck Bass of Senegal. Glad to see that guy again.

    • Kittie
    • August 25th, 2010

    Every new post is interesting. Wishing I had had the cajones to decide to do this when i was your age & all that. Really impressed with you again…well, & your parents for not freaking that this is what you wanted to do. I’m sure it didn’t hurt that Shannon had gone to Africa & the Bloom family mission trips, but all of those are a LOT shorter than your endeavors. Then again, with a Dad in the Army you could’ve done a lot more dangerous things I suppose. Keeping you in my prayers. Hugs to you as well:-D

    • The Amazon
    • August 25th, 2010

    I feel like you were at home while digging through the garbage – since it seemed you were always coming home with some type of furniture from the garbage 🙂

      • The Amazon
      • August 25th, 2010

      and I had no idea you had VBall skills…

    • Sca-rah
    • August 26th, 2010

    You growing plants out of a boot makes me happy. Can’t wait to hear where you end up.

    • tara
    • August 26th, 2010

    LOVE it! Eli and I miss you like whoa:)

    • Gale (aka mama)
    • August 27th, 2010

    Boiled peanuts?? I would have thought that would have been southern Africa. Also, will the malaria tablets alway give you stomachaches? Yuck (no yuckier than malaria, but still a pain in the stomach)! I love how you make so many different scenarios sound sane (i.e. you busting out volleyball skills or soil and manure in a pink cheetah backpack). Loving the news…..really loved the webcam phone call – thank you!

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