Wednesday, May 23, 2007

I'm that kid....

You're horrible people, all of you. Do you remember being in middle school or high school and making fun of the foreign kids with the funny accents? I know you did (I know I did). Shame on us, shame on us for making fun of somebody thrown into a new culture and trying to learn a new, dificult language.

I am now THAT kid. I am the funny german kid that you teach to say funny, innapropriate things, all the while making him believe that you're laughing with him when you're actually laughing at him...but hey, they cant speak English so they dont know the difference. Its not fun. None at at all.

My installation was a little less fun that I had hoped, well, a lot less actually. After being ignored for many hours and being given no straight answer as to where my room was or when I could unload my stuff, the lock on my door was broken off to let me in to a filthy room with remnants of the former inhabitants. Apparently they "didnt know I was coming," which is bullshit, and the person with the key was out of the village. After buying and installing a new lock, the disgruntled Peace Corps employees drove off leaving me alone with the village....

Things are not easy. My family is not nice to me, basically ignore me except to make fun of me for not knowing Pulaar. The people in my compound (I dont live with my host family) get pissy with me because I dont eat with them eventhough I was specifically told to eat all my meals at my "family's" house, which is funny because I go over there all the time and am not always fed.

My village is 8km off the road, not 6, and probably 10 to 12km from the little town where I get my mail and can buy stuff (Boki Diawé). I walked it yesterday, about an hour and half to 2 hours. Unfortunately its impossible to bring enough water to drink while walking this far through the desert so by the time I got to Boki I nearly collapsed.

My address:

PCV Ashley Goodson
B.P. 83
Boki Diawé
Senegal
West Africa

You can leave off the Jane Kleven, I am now my OWN person! Plus, she sucks and would totally steal my packages and eat my food.

I dont have good cell phone reception and can only get a signal when I stand on the roof of my compound. I also dont have electricity so my plan is to maybe hang out on the roof at around 11pm everynight around the same time so if people want to call they can and that way I dont have to have my phone on all the time and waste the battery. If it gets to around 11:15 or so and no one has called Ill probably go to bed.

I will also be here in Ourosogui about once a week and I would EXTREMELY love some emails or messages. Im having kind of tough time and I could use back home support, in English.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Oh I forgot...and baby powder. Sweating creates problems when your wearing a pana (a long wrapped skirt that goes to the ankles).

I forgot to post this but I did get another cell phone and was able to get my old number back, so if anyone would like to call me, its the same, and if you dont know it, let me know.

Also my Millikin email account is finally being shut down so use ashleygoodsonis@hotmail.com if you need to email me something.

The heat:
I think its around 120 during the day and around 100 at night. I dont have a thermometer but this is what Im told. We re also near the river here in Ourosogui so its a little cooler, my site is 6km into the bush (on the other side of the road away from the river).

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Every story has a beginning...this is mine.

So I am in my closest road town in the Northern border of Senegal, called Ourosogui. This is where I will do my banking and internet for my next two years of service.

I will be installed into my village either tomorrow or the next day. It is very hot, which is probably 90 percent of the topic of conversation here in the Fouta.

"Ina wuuli?"
"eey, Ina wuuli no feewi."
"Ina wuuli."
"eey, ina wuuli."
"Nder Fouta, ina wuuli."
"eey."

Translated:

"its hot, right?"
"yes, its very hot"
"its hot."
"yes its hot."
"Its hot in the Fouta."
"yes."

This conversation will take place numerous times with every single person you meet.

Sweating has become a way of life and quite a necessity. Speaking of, some new ideas for care packages: sports bras, tank tops (cheap wife beeters), kleenex, some C batteries!

I dont know yet about my cell phone or electricity situation but Ill keep you posted. or maybe not, since I wont be able to call you.....maybe..... here it comes.

Sunday, May 6, 2007

Bad day, no cell phone.

So, yesterday, I kind of got mugged and my cell phone was stolen. So whoever reads this, if anyone, dont try to call me. Well I guess you can but it wont work, whoever stole it popped the sim card out almost immediately because we all tried calling it, so dont waste your money.

The story is that Im pretty much stupid. Usually I keep my cell phone in my small purse thing that it strapped around me but this particular day, it was really hot and I figured the less things hanging on me the better, because I had my backpack too. So I put my cell phone in the outside pocket, and it was zipped up and everything. So anyway, a couple of other girls and I are walking in a really busy, crowded spot in the market, in this building sort of thing and were on our way out. Some dudes hanging out in this alley saw me and started trying to get my attention. I just turned the other way and ignored them and started to walk to the inside street, but everyone else got caught up for some reason and stopped so I was by myself for only a couple seconds. So this guy, I couldnt even tell you what he looked liked, walked up quickly behind me and I felt a yank on my back and by the time I turned around, he was gone, my bag was open, and I knew instantly that my cell phone had been stolen. We called it immediately and walked back up to a couple shady guys hanging out in this little alley way and they said to just go to the police, but theres nothing they can do. The phone didnt even ring and thus ends my tragic story. I am without phone, and without money to buy another....and so it goes.
I try to think about the postive outlook to this event, like for instance, my digital camera and passport were both in my bag and are still there. I have also learned a VERY valuable lesson, keep your shit hidden, or dont have shit.

One more week of training and swearing in is on saturday. We leave sunday morning and spend that night at the regional house in Ndoum. After that we got to Ourasogie and stay in a hotel and wait for our installment. Im the last one to be installed in our entire stage. I have to spend the night alone in Ourasogie and I be installed friday morning. Hopefully other PCVs will be around. Its also gonna be...a little hot.

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Drive-by-slapping

So we have our bikes which has actually been one of the coolest things. I feel like I finally have some control over when I get up, go to the center, and where I go after "school".
HOWEVER, I have come to learn that there are some hazards to riding a bike in Senegal, especially if you're white.
So my friend Krisin and I were leaving Pamanda's yesterday, just pushing off onto the road, when we pass a gas station on our right hand side with people everywhere. I ride past this old, Senegalese man, I kind smile, and next thing I know he SLAPS ME! Not in the face or anything, in the shoulder, but HARD. Im so stunned I almost swerve into traffic and I finally stop and look behind me to see if Kristin saw this. (obviously she did), she rides up saying, "he got me too, just ride!"
I couldn't believe it. I got SLAPPED by an old African dude. The kicker is that when I turned around he was smiling like he thought it was the funniest thing he had ever done.
What was up with that? Since then I can only assume that any innocent pedestrian is a SLAPPER.

I found out today that I am indeed serving in the village originally thought, sigh of relief. I met my counterpart today, he seems cool, and the coolest part about him is that he speaks a little ENGLISH. Raise the roof.