Sunday, July 25, 2010

livin the tough life

my life today: slept in (8am); watched a few episodes of How I Met Your Mother; went to brunch and had a cappuccino, chocolate croissant, and egg/cheese/ham/mushroom crepe; walked into the depths of the Thies market and bought a new skirt, some laundry soap, and a cold beverage; did my laundry then took a long running water shower; spent a few more hours watching more episodes of How I Met Your Mother; and currently, drinking a glass (I mean plastic cup) of red wine while browsing the internet/updating my blog.

Now, let's picture a normal day in village: wake up at 5:45am to the first call to prayer then try to go back to sleep for a while; actually wake up, bucket bath, eat, get my water for the day; either go water my garden at the school or visit the dispener; sit; read/socialize/walk around the village/sit in my hut and listen to music; eat lunch; take a 4 hour nap or sit; by around 6pm, go back to school, dispenser, or someone else's house (and sit); sit; come home and shower again; sit; read or hang with family; dinner; sleep.

Disclaimer: I am not lazy, I swear, and after returning to site, my "normal day in the village" will hopefully be a great deal more productive in terms of work and self productivity. Also, today is our one day off during IST, and I have fully taken advantage of it to the best of my ability.
We have one more week of IST, and then I'm off to Dakar for a week to help with an English Camp for kids in the city. Training has been in some ways very beneficial and motivational (I'm even more ready to get back to the village and start projects) and in others slightly mind numbing and drawn out. It's great to be around so many native English speakers and friends that I don't often get to see...but it will also be very difficult to leave this all behind again and return to the seclusion of my village/life in the village. The excitement of starting work on so many great projects is really what makes me ready to get back to my family and village.

Ramadan starts on August 13th, and lasts for about a month. For those of you that aren't aware, Senegal is, in fact, a Muslim country, and the majority of people will fast from sunrise to sunset for a month (and such is Ramadan). I'm looking forward to this opportunity to cook lunch for myself and have more control over my diet for a short amount of time, but on the other hand, nothing will be accomplished. It's actually pretty horrible timing in terms of work for us since we will be returning to our sites after IST all pumped and ready to get work started, and then Ramadan will begin and all work will cease. People will be tired and cranky, and expecting me not to work as well. This will hopefully be a good opportunity for me to do my own type of work (like grant research, getting paperwork for grants organized, researching project related anything, etc) and when it is over, we will all celebrate and kick it back into gear.
Initially I was not the slightest bit interested in fasting myself...I mean, who in their right mind would not eat or drink WATER in the scorching hot desert of Western Africa if they are not devout Muslims (or even if they water??!! really??)? Well, to my surprise, many volunteers do choose to fast along with their families as a way to bring solidarity or relate or whatever...and many families really do respect volunteers for trying. But, to me, not drinking water or eating for that long in a climate and environment that is already so incredibly harsh on my body, is not a smart idea at all. Even when I do drink 5 liters of water a day or more and eat as much as I possibly can, my level of energy is about equal to that of one of my laziest days in America...I'm constantly dragging my feet around and trying to stay up beat. So, I then considered maybe just trying to fast with them but still drink water, and just be super lazy for a month with everyone else. But, then I decided that I would rather take advantage of the time that I do have and do my own work, with energy, and stay happier (most likely) and healthier by eating my own cooked food.
With this decision made, I will now be spending a large remainder of my mandat (pay) on a visit to the "Casino" supermarche in Dakar to stock up on rations for the next month. This store, my friends, is like heaven in Senegal. It is within a MALL (yes, a legit, tile floored, florescent lighting, high class mall), and is the most beautiful and overwhelming picture of perfectness...everything you could ever want is available here. I literally didnt know what to buy when I visited for the first is definitely a place where you need to have a list already created before you enter (so that you don't splurge and buy a $14 dollar pint of Ben and Jerries Phish Food every time...not that I did that or anything...well maybe just once...). To say the least, I am very, very excited to go back to this wonderful magical land. There, and also the American Club deserves another visit while I'm in such close proximity.

And so that is my plan for the next few weeks. IST, Dakar, back to the village for Ramadan, and then really getting to work! I am satisfied. Content to be where I am and happy with the way things look in the future. Hope everyone and anyone reading this finds themselves enjoying life in the same way :)

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