Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Goat urine, scorpions, wells.

I have proven myself as a woman to my villagers, for although I wear pants, do not wear earings, and neglect to cover my head, I CAN carry water on my head. Our forage is not working so what used to be a simple walk to the other side of my compound to the spicket, is now a trip to the well, on the outskirts of my village, where I have to pull water and carry it back to my hut, which is almost a kilometer away, multiple times. My life has become a LOT harder.

Ive just got back from our little retreat on our regional house. Its hard to work up the courage to go back to my village after having running water, cold drinks, and a DVD player. We did, however, have a few run ins with scorpions in the house. Caitlin and I killed one and if you turn your attention to her blog you can see pictures of the poor dead creature. (caitlininsenegal.blogspot.com) and theres a link to her pictures on the right hand side.

We also got a wonderfully refreshing goat urine shower on the way to Ndioum when two goats were tied to the roof of the car and neglected to ask the driver to pull over. Goats.....

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

some pictures, I would do more but this takes FOREVER

Laundry day!
My luxurious bathoom, thats not pee by the way, I had just dumped something out.
Thats the mosque that wakes me up at 5am everymorning. Praise Allah. See the cows?

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

An ode to African animals...

Things here are difficult but everyday my feelings swell and strech. My family still seems to dislike me immencely and never misses an opportunity to tell me that I am bad at Pulaar and then proceed to talk about me, in front of me, for hours. Im not quite sure what they're saying, obviously, but they defintately throw in a couple "she can't speak pulaar" and "she cant do anything"s. It gets very frustrating and I dont think they realize that it hinders me actually wanting to talk to them and practice when all they do is put me down.

The other day I tried to win some points with the fam and offer to help cook lunch. The wife that was cooking told me to buy my own food and cook for myself in my room. I told her I didnt have an oven, and her exact words in pulaar were "then buy one. Go sit back down over there." How's that for headway? I think I've decided to spend less time over there.

Theres a family in my compound thats very nice to me and theres also a girl that likes to come "visit me" everyday, which just means she comes over and sits in my room in silence. I go to her family's compound once in a while and they're awesome. The other day she came and said she was going to go work in the garden so I asked if I could come with. The garden is amazing, I mean its amazing that anyone can grow anything up here, right? Its a village garden thats fenced in and every family has their designated space. They grow hacko, the leaves that they boil and eat for dinner EVERY night, onions, and I dont know what else. Everyday after Takusan (the evening prayer), all the women come with their buckets and water the garden. This is a daunting process because they walk from the trough to the garden over and over, with huge buckets of water on their heads. I was just walking with Rougii and I still had so sit down at a nearby compound because I was tired before she was even done. I tried to offer to carry the water for at least one trip but she wouldn't let me. I'm determined to impress the village women with my carrying-water-on-my-head skills. I do carry water on my head every morning when I get water but I only have to carry it like 5 yards.

I've had some interesting experiences with animals of a creepy crawly nature. Lizards are EVERYwhere. They crawl up and down the walls and across the ceiling, always making little lizard shuffling noises. They're pretty big and some of them are really beautifully colored with bright orange heads and blue tails. Lizards dont bother me usually and I like to watch them run around. However, the other night, I came into my room just as it was getting dark and got some water. I raised the bottle to my mouth and spotted a huge lizard on my chest. I freaked and probably made one of those girlish shreaks, dropping my bottle on the floor. It worries me that a lizard could somehow get on my chest without me realizing it.

There is also the case of the huge ass spider that crawled out from under my mattress as I was setting up my bed to go to sleep. This thing was huge, almost as big as my hand, brown, and had just crawled out from under the mattress I was about to SLEEP ON. Yes, I freaked out.

There are also these big black beetles that hang around, that Im pretty sure are harmless but one got caught in my mosquito net one night and whilst trying to escape made various writhing noises that convinced me that something under my bed was try to eat me. I didnt get much sleep that night. I sleep outside by the way. Everyone does, its too hot.

My village also has many, many, many cows-big ones with huge, scary horns. I know you're thinking, "wow, ashley, big frickin deal....cows, get over it" but Im not talking cows at a distance, I mean in your face, right next to you, while you're lying on mats on the ground and they could easily trample you. Its also not so much fun walking in between sleeping cows in complete darkness walking back to my compound. I have seen them charge little boys. These are not friendly animals.

I know you'd think being Africa, the animal life would be a little more exotic, its not, its just more in your face. People here LIVE with their animals. Sheep, goats, chickens, and donkeys are everywhere, as are the sounds they make.