Wednesday, December 1, 2010

My Hut

My front yard with some sweet jatropha live fencing.
Inside the hut (left to right: water filter, chest filled with "stuff," bucket o' food, table with all of the 78 books given to me by Peace Corps, chest with clothes, world map made of cloth, and bed w/ mosquito net.)

Backyard. My douche with lack of fencing. I stare at the sunrise over the mountains every morning.


Saturday, November 27, 2010

Pretty much all the People of my village

my father and mother are missing

Thanksgiving

November 25, 2010

I believe it has been roughly two weeks since the last time I wrote a blog entry. I am now back in Kedougou for Thanksgiving, which is looking to be quite the feast, and to research some potential projects.The past two weeks have been fairly slow but filled with some fairly important celebrations. The largest of which is Tebaski, (have explanation of Tabaski).

Tabaski for me started with a morning prayer withall of the men, women and children from Bombaya, the village next to Togue, and Togue. There were probably close to three hundred people praying together under two large Baobab trees. It was a beautiful sight to see so many people on the same page and together accomplishing one task, to give grace to their Allah. I didn't understand at all what they were praying for but it was nice again to be together with so many people. This moment was abruptly interrupted when every one finished praying and an older lady quickly approached me as I got up from my mat to demand I offer her money. Now, I shouldn't of been shocked because I know that this holiday, along with many other holidays, it is customary to offer children and the elderly monetary gifts. However, some how I was still unprepared with no money and shocked that this lady whom I showed respect would so blatantly demand I offer her money. The moment passed and soon I was off with my counterpart Malal to Pate Swares's house to kill a goat.

No, I didn't actually get to kill the goat, but I did get to watch the whole process. Pretty interesting and strange how I felt sort of bad for the goat. I tried to directly compare this feeling to that of the numerous fish I have witnessed and slaughtered myself. However, the goat death made me feel almost sad but the meat was delicious. Speaking of this feeling of killing things lets talk about our massive thanksgiving. I got to kill a duck.

THANKSGIVING!!!!! Lets state the facts and get right into the food/essences of thanksgiving. We had 10 chickens (35,000 cfa total or roughly $18 us), 5 ducks (15,000 cfa roughly $8 us), stuffing (bread, apples, carrots, onions, raisins), apple pie, pumpkin pie, weird pudding pie, squash pie, mased potatoes, mashed sweet potatoes, two types of gravy, biscuits, cornbread, carrot and corn salsa thing, and banana bread. Thanksgiving here didn't lack anything and the best part was we split the chickens into groups and each got to season/marinade a chicken the way we wanted it. I went with a honey, orange, hot pepper glaze which turned out way to spicy but delicious. Actually maybe the best part was when we destuffed all the birds and had a stuffing which contained all the flavors of every bird. Needless to say I was supposed to go back to village this morning but who can realistically miss thanksgiving leftovers. So, what really happened was I woke up at 630am ate some more food and went back to sleep until now (10am) in which the sun is too hot and my belly is in no mood for a the 1.5 hour bike ride. I'll be back later on today just not right now. Thanksgiving was a huge success and I hope your thanksgiving was a good as mine.

Current Update
As of now I am running back to village to find someone to water my plants, lock up my hut, say good bye to the family, convince them I will be returning in a few weeks, and to pack for my 3 week stay in Thies for mid service training, All volunteer conference, and sustainable agriculture conference. I'm a little afraid what this mass amount of time away from village will do to my language skills but I'm bring my books and hopefully someone will want to practice with me. As for now, its back to the village for a day (12 hours) and then work (i.e. presenting my village, possible projects, safety things and finishing other documents PC requires us to finish before all these conferences).

Saturday, November 6, 2010

nene (mother) in Sangal Kam homestay during training.
The family (L to R: Youssafa lil bro, JaJa Isotou (older Sister), Baby awa (on Jaja lil sis), Fatou lil sis, Koto Housman (older brother), Baabaa (on Koto).

My Room in Sangal Kam.


One lovely sunrise on our beach weekend in Pompenguine.



Swear Inn at the American Ambassador's residence.




Life on top of the mountain I live below. For more Picture please refer to my facebook profile as FB seems to be a bit quicker in the uploading process.


Here is the link:

Current And Up to Date

So, it is now November 7, 2010 and it has been a while since I last wrote a blog. I have posted some older blogs to try and catch you up/give you guys an idea of the process I am going through but it has been difficult with all the traveling lack of internet, computer problems, and the fact that I just get lost/have to much fun in my brand new home called Senegal.

As of now, I have been in my village Togue fro about 2.5 weeks. The village itself is about 100 people if you count the children, and I mean barely 100 people. My father is the chief of the village which mainly consists of one family name, Camara. None the less everyone is very happy and very helpful in teaching me pulaar, how to cook, how to get water, and just about anything you can think of because I am their guest and they need to know I am okay and have/can do everything I may need to do. Life is good.

The village itself, sorry if this is repetitive, is about 25-30km south east of Kedougou city in the rural commune of Dimboli. It is a village of Pulaar people who farm corn and some peanuts directly in the village during the rainy season as well as in their fields, about 5km outside of the village. The nearest volunteers are about 12-15km up a mountain and east. Really not that far as it takes me about 30-45 minutes to get to either place on bike due to the mountain and poor road conditions.

Living in village is a whole other world than training as I am completely alone and given total freedom of what I want to do in a day. It is a little overwhelming at first but I am slowly adjusting and finding things to do. For instance, I took a day trip out to Kafori, about 12km east of my village where another volunteer is stationed, to walk to a gorgeous waterfall. (see pictures below). Another day I spent with my father in his field eating corn (yakugol kabba) and then walking roughly 20km more to his rice patties. But for now, as it is the harvest season, I spend most of my days studying Pulaar and talking with the community in the morning and then helping with the harvest in the afternoon. Recently I've actually begun to make a rock pathway to my douche (toilette, which by the way I have definitely mastered).

Other exciting events have been the all night celebration (literally 12pm to 12 am) of the circumcision of about 10 boys. I was astonished to find out that these boys were between the ages of 10-12. No, I didn't actually participate in the cutting process, there was a doctor for that, but yes I ate as much Kosan and laccirri (couscous and sour milk with sugar) as I could stand and then danced it off before gorging myself on dabirri (a crushed peanut, sugar and laccirri mixture that tastes exactly like a peanut butter cookie). Really the food is delicious and the village has no problem attempting to feed me every second of every day.

The majority of the food I eat contains some sort of grain and a sauce. Usually this grain is funio, a sort of grass like crop which is stepped/danced on for its seed then dried in the sun and either cooked whole like rice or pounded and steamed. Either way its amazingly tasty. Other grains we eat often are rice, corn, and sorghum (although I have not eaten this yet as it has not been harvested). Most of the sauce that occompany these grains are okra (Taaku) or peanut based with different variations calling for species, crushing of the peanuts, sugar etc.... These grains and sauce known as nirri e mafe are usually eaten for lunch or dinner. While breakfast is usually mboiddi, a laccirri porridge made with water, sugar, and limes. There is no bread, no meat, and very little vegetables although I have had tomatoes once and bitter tomatoes few times. I hear this will change with the upcoming dry season gardening season approaching.

As for me, I have been on a roller coaster ride of hating, loving, good, bad, mediocre and ever other emotion, feeling, desire, or whatever you want to call them on could experience. However, the average of all these things has been more than positive. I was warned of the difficulties of not being able to directly and easily express myself but in the back of my mind I always thought there would be one person I would find who would understand or have the same humor as I did. I was wrong as of now. One grand example is farting. I, personally, find farting to be hilarious whether it is silent and violent or loud and proud all farts are funny as hell. I had held back my farts in training around my host family because I didn't want to be rude or know how they would react. However, with my host family in Togue I immediately became aware of some noises that I interpreted as farts but as a family would in America these noises were ignored. So, I waited for my time. A time with children and no adults preferably away from the village. This time came on my walk to my fathers farm in which I waited back forcing my little brother to slow down with me and I let out a loud but not deafening fart inorder to study the reaction of my little brother. For a good portion of the walk I had wondered whether he would laugh or be disgusted or fart too but nothing had prepared me for what he actually did. NOTHING! He didn't even break stride. So, I tried again as I has stored up some extra gas via the massive amounts of kabba I ate. Again nothing. My little brother had crushed every hope and dream I had of a simple due to natural gas in Senegal. Still I didn't give up.

I decided to push the limits and give farts one more chance this time with the family and at dinner something only kalabante (trouble maker) in the state would think about doing. So, as my family and I gathered around our food bowl, hands washed and full of funio I let out a little toot. Again not hideously loud but defnitely audible so one would know it was a fart. I looked up to see if anyone noticed, reacted, stopped eating, laughed, something...but again nothing not even the scolding I was prepared to take. The fart, a comedy I hold deep in my heart in America and have used on numerous occasions to lighten a mood, completely fails in Senegal. Well not completely as I can still laugh to myself whenever I fart or someone else does I guess.

Now, I am sitting in Kedougou city as I have to buy a bunch of food for a language conference being hosted at my village. Really it is just a teacher, myslef, and two other volunteers coming out for a few days to learn Pulaar but language conference sounds so much more official. So, I am going to end this long but informative blog entry with a bit of Pullar wisdom that I really like and have been repeating to myself for the past couple of days now:

lekkun bee e dowkal mun. (Every little tree gives its little bit of shade).

Until next time I hope everything well with every one and please and thank you for sending letters, emails, and any other form of communication.

P.S. NEW ADDRESS

PCV C.J. Cintas
BP 37
Kedougou, Senegal
West Africa

A bit of Catch Up (posts I wrote in August).

August 8th.

Finally in Washington D.C. And after a short trip on the metro I've arrived at the Holiday Inn on Fairview. So, far so good as I was surprised to meet my first Peace Corps peer, Rachel from Colorado. The introductions were short lived with Rachel as I had to check in and get ready for dinner and drinks with Pontius.

I returned to the hotel at around 11:30pm felling bad about missing dinner and the arrival of other volunteers when, to my surprise 11 or so volunteers were gathered in the lobby of the hotel. We exchanged glances and made eye contact before finally asking, “Peace Corps?” and answering “Peace Corps.” I've finally met a portion of the 65 or so volunteers who will be traveling with me to Senegal. The rest should arrive tomorrow for a fun day of paper work, ice breakers, and a boat load of information. Not going to lie I am a little nervous.

August 10, 2010.

REALLY DOING IT!!!!

Today marks the day we, the Peace Corps volunteers of Senegal, actually depart and arrive in Senegal . Once again, I am writing this message on the airplane (its amazing what you can do in 8 and a half hours). Although I've only really been talking with a fellow volunteer, playing games, and watching Cop Out (the edited version) mostly to procrastinate about writing this blog.

I have mixed emotions flying into Senegal. Some are scared others excited but mostly it is a realization of what is really happening. I'm really doing it. Yes, they are speaking native languages on the plane, including french, and no I do not understand them at all. Yes, there are people here dressed in (what I am assuming to be) native attire. Yes, the plane is awesome and it includes free drinks, any type, free movies, music, games, a camera showing the plane flying through the air, and many more fun things. But enough about the plane and more about the day.

Today was fairly boring a sort of hurry up and wait day, if you know what I mean. We started with a very early check out at 830 and began boarding and stuffing a 2 buses full of our stuff. We were off to receive the yellow fever immunizations and to receive what would be my first official WHO (World Health Organization) card. Pretty exciting stuff until we arrived and were lined up and walked through a metal detector and then escorted into a room where a lady speaking broken English was flicking needles and mixing, what I hoped and turned out to be, the yellow fever vaccines. It was sort of a picture you would see in a horror movie torture scene but a lot less scary of course. Fortunately, I received my shot fairly early in the day and was then able to relax and shoot the stuff with my fellow volunteers. The whole process for everyone to be checked and stabbed took about 4 hours. I know but talking with other volunteers I am amazed to see how many are from so many different backgrounds and places. Its pretty cool to think about us all united under one cause.

Anyway, the day continued on, we said goodbye to our PC trainers and headed for the airport where we were given our first test, How to Check into the Airlines. I stayed back to watch 3 or 4 people travel to either United or South African Airlines (SAA). The solution was to stay and wait for SAA to open and then check in there (SAA was the airlines designated on the itinerary). Everyone was checked in, I was not over weight with my baggage (Hooray!), some repacked at the check-in stand and others just paid the difference. And so, we were off to again wait through security and the gate for our flight. Since, I am currently on the flight, 1 hour 30 to go, I think this is a good time to describe some of the feelings, emotions, relationships, and other things you might find interesting that have been happening over the past 24 hours. Oh, and just a heads up this could be a last message for a while depending on our next move but we'll both find out tomorrow.

So, training was sort of fun like a summer camp where everyone is feeling each other out and attempting to make friends. I think the interesting part is yet to come when we finally begin training and put some time in at Senegal. The main concern of traveling was of course packing and bringing enough stuff or too much stuff. The second biggest concern is the malaria medication. Some say it is horrible and causes you to hallucinate others, the PC, say it is the best thing for you. Think I am going to go with the PC on this one even though I don't have a choice in order to continue my service. But on to more important issues like the 10 core values of PC.

We learned them, got a pack it, and now I have forgotten them. Thank goodness it is pretty common sense stuff. And I've lost my train of thought as I haven't gone to sleep yet, too excited for our big debut. Wish me luck......

8.12.10

My second day in the Thies (Chayse) training center and I'm not sure life gets better. The life style is very laid back, the food is excellent and everyone is very willing to help. I still need to learn the language and my view point might vary as I begin to live with my home stay family on Monday but as of now things are pretty great.

Today I began my Rural Agriculture training. In this program we are working towards food security by demonstrating different planting techniques, using a variety of crops, and dispensing improved seeds (the seed are cross bread seeds from India that are bred with local Senegalese plants to adapt them to the dry dry climate). Pretty tight if you ask me.

Ag volunteers will also be looking to improve community participation and set up a plan, as I understood a sort of general plan, for the community to follow in order to inplement new programs (like a community garden). The one very tough thing is learning the language and things are going to get tougher when I move in with my host family. I'm excited though because that's when training really begins.

Any way the people are great. Yesterday, we had a little dance party as the guys played the drums. The majority of us were having a difficult time following the beat or being creative enough to impress the locals so one of the drummers decided he would teach us a dance. It was called the mongoose, Walker if you're reading this you need to get on this dance move. So, you start off feet shoulder width apart slightly bet at the knees. Then hop with the beat and as you begin to get into you choose a place to jump and land and stop on the beat. As you land throw your hands up above your head, bend your elbows and wrist toward the direction your facing. Add a crazy look in your eye and begin jumping in one direction until you cannot any more. When you can no longer jump forward anymore you must jump backward to where you came. Its actually pretty fun if your with a group of people, who are all into it or are Peace Corps volunteers, and you make a giant circle.

Oh, another interesting story comes from one of my fellow volunteers who entered the PC right out of college. He was sent to the Cape Verde Islands. Before exiting he applied again and was sent to China. Now, he is on his third PC stint and in Senegal. He has been home for a total of 2 months for the past four years. He has traveled to some amazing places and gotten paid for it. I thought it was pretty cool.

Alright, that's enough I think the heat being produced from my computer is attracting more mosquitoes. So, I am going to go. I don't know when I will be able to post this but I am attempting to write everyday and when I can post more I will and most likely do so in mass quantities.

I hope everything is well back in the States. Next time I will give you a run down of my first bowel movement into a hole in the ground.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Climbing a mountain

Preservice training (PST) is halfway done and I have officially passed my language test as well as received my site announcement. I will be serving in Togue (Kedougou Region), Senegal. Apparently there are only 75 people with the village but all are very nice and open to new ideas. I'm actually traveling there tomorrow (9/12). Its about a 14 hour car ride to the Kedougou regional house from Thies. I actually won't make it to my site until 9/13. You could say I am excited!

Anyway on to the more exciting stuff like my first Korite, homestay family, Sangal Kam, Pullo Futta, etc....etc....

First the homestay family. I was a bit worried when we arrived in Sangal Kam a month ago. My nerves exponentially increased when my family was not there to greet me at the bus stop. Everyone else was swallowed up by their families and unfortunately my was no where to be found. I finally realize what it feels like to be picked last.

After about a 15 minute wait (which I now know is pretty standard) my Tokora (person I am named after Elhadji Mamadou Baa) came strolling up to greet me and carry my bag. Elhadji is my age and plays for the Sangal Kam soccer team so, you can imagine that it was a match made in heaven. Although, I haven't seen him play yet due to Ramadan.

Sangal Kam is a smaller town on the edge of Dakar about an hour from Thies (I may have explained this already). There is one paved road that leads to other villages the rest is sand. Fine by me as it feels like I am on the beach, a dirty beach but a beach none the less. Back to the fam. There are two people who speak Pullo Futta well, my older brother and my mother. Both of which stay home all day: my older brother because school is out (he is a teacher) and my mother because she does not work. However, it is my mother who teaches me the most. She is so patient and willing to repeat herself that I have been able to pass my language test on the first try. Thank you nene. Other than language my family feeds me regularly (mainly fish and rice), supports me studying pullo futta, and looks out for me when other members of the community harass me (this happened once). Really couldn't have asked for a better family.

Korite happened yesterday. Korite is the celebration of Ramadan being over after the spotting of the new moon (as I understand it). Everyone was dressed up in their new outfits and even I got one. The women cooked, gossiped and laughed all day while the men prayed at mosque and waited to feast. The children went from house to house in their new clothes asking for money and candy (a tradition that reminded me of America's halloween). The celebration itself, for my family, wasn't so much "party time" but rather eat,eat,eat and sit and visit with friends, neighbors, and strangers. My favorite part of Korite was the local music and eating around a community bowl, only men though, with men from different compounds or just passing by. It was, not to be wack, the complete Aloha spirit. Everyone was sharing what they had with anyone who passed. Pretty unique. Korite unfortunately is cut a bit short for me and the other volunteers as we had to come back to Thies today inorder to prepare for our site visits tomorrow.

Like I may have stated before I will be going to Togue, Senegal. A 14 hour drive which I will then spend the night at the Kedougou regional house and continue on to my actual site the next day. I've only heard great things about Togue which is very near the Guinea and Mali borders. The people are supposed to be amazing and very open minded to new projects/ideas as well as motivated to work. Supposedly, there are only about 75 people in my village. Anyway, there are supposed to be a waterfall near by, trails to follow to other villages and of course Mali and guinea are right there. Pretty excited to say the least. Oh and the village I am visitign which isn't mine but is close is on top of a mountain. I'll let you guys know how it goes sometime when I can get on the internet again. Wish me luck

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

SENGAL

So, I have been in Sengal for two weeks now (I know sorry for the late posts but my computer for some reason won't hook up to the internet here in Thies so for now I am borrowing some one elses computer).

So here is a quick update as I am getting bombarded with mosquitoes. The first week in Thies was eye opening. The city is raw with concrete and unfinished building with colorful trash littering the streets. There are also no driving rules. Its sad and beautiful at the same time.

We had to take a two hour bus ride from Dakar to Thies but were greeted by the amazing Thies staff upon arriving. Tam tams (miniature drums) were blaring, people were dancing and singing. It was really one welcome experience. But being as I had been up for the past 24 hours all I wanted to do was get a little nap in before heading to our first Peace Corps training session.

The day from there is a bit boring as we just sat around listening to welcomes and what to do and not to do (there is a lot of this and most of it is very helpful). This pattern of sitting and listening and questioning persisted through out the first week of training as we began medical training, received shots, got malaria meds and our first survival language classes. In this case that language is Wolof. You've probably never heard of it.

Thhe first week went by fast and in no time I was told I was going to be learning Pullo fuuta, a local language spoken through out Africa (in variations) but mostly in the South of Senegal. Yes, Naomi if your reading this we will be able to communicate in the local tongues if I rememeber correctly (A Jarrama! Tan Alla?). With my language I leanred I was to be living with a host family in Sangal Kam, a smaller city just outside Dakar.

In Sangal Kam my family is awesome. They named me after their eldest son Elhadji Mamoudou Baa (at least that's how I think you spell it). Anyway, they are awesome and nightly help me with my pullo futta. The compound I live in is actually pretty nice. There is electricity and a faucet with water. As far as I am concerned I am sitting pretty.

My schedule usually is filled with language classes in the morning (9 till 1) then home for lunch and a little nap before more class at 4 till 6. After class I either garden in the school garden we are starting or run off to the sand pitch to play some football with the kids before breaking the fast for Ramadan with my host family. Its a simple and beautiful life but don't get things mixed up I am working hard to learn pullo futta as fast as possible.

It is very discouraging to not be able to communicate easily with 95% of the people around you. On the other hand this is great for learning a new language since I am forced to speak and experiment with what I have just learned. Thank goodness everyone I've run into has been more than willing to laugh at me, teach me or both.

I know this is a very brief and general over view of what I have been going through over the past two weeks but to tell you the truth there is just to much to tell. Everything is new from the toilette (turkish google it) to the culture. There is a lot to learn and unfortunately I have not had the time to play with my computer in order figure out why i can't connect to the internet.

For now I hope this will suffice and I will try and get my computer up and running so I may give you guys more info about my where-a-bouts.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Becomming a Peace Corps Trainee

I have finally in Washington DC and after a short trip on the metro I am at the Holiday Inn on Fairview. So, far so good as I was surprised to meet my first Peace Corps peer, Rachel from Colorado. The introductions were short lived with Rachel as I had to check in and get ready for dinner and drinks with Pontius and plus I really wasn't expecting anyone else to get to the hotel as early as me.

Upon my return to the hotel at around 11:30pm I felt bad about missing dinner and the arrival of other volunteers when, to my surprise 11 or so volunteers were gathered in the lobby of the hotel. We exchanged glances and made eye contact before finally asking, “Peace Corps?” and answering “Peace Corps.” I've finally met a portion of the 65 or so volunteers who will be traveling with me to Senegal. The fun would only continue the next day (Aug. 9) when registration begins at noon.

Sure enough on the dot it was 12 o'clock and the lobby of the Holiday Inn was stuffed with massive backpacks and luggage. The Peace Corps vounteers had arrived. So, naturally introductions began and no one really remembered each others names. Regirstration consisted of turning in the papers we were told to sign and siging more documents such as our new government passports. Pretty dull stuff but because of the new energy in the building brought by the excitement of fresh Peace Corps volunteers the process went by very quickly

2:00pm and it was time to sit down and begin with our lessons about safety, threats, anxiety, aspirations and overall what to expect during our service mixed in with the occassional ice breaker. Over all, everyone dealing with the same anxietys of learning a new language, being accepted, etc... It was nothing new but definitely comforting to know I was no where near the only on who was feeling this way.

7:00pm Regristration is finished and its back to square one. People are sort of wandering aimlessly attempting to stick around long enough to know what everyone else is doing for dinner (I must admit I was definitely apart of this group). Fortunately, it didn't take long and we decided on a micro-brew place called Rocky Bottom. $2.75 house brews and a menu filled with meat was all it took for us to be happy. My official last dinner in america consisted of 2 pints of beer (1 Kolsch, 1 Pale Ale) and a prime rib sandwhich with horseradish sauce and cheddar cheese accmpanied with kettle chips. Delicious.

It's now late 1:13am and I have to be up and ready by 8:15am for shots (yellow fever to be exact). I'm a little concerrned my bags will be overweight (again I don't think I am the only one). Hoever, I am not sure I want my bags to be overweight so, sorry mom and dad but I may be donating a few things to the Holiday Inn. My plan is to take my bags to the weight room in the hotel and weigh them there. I think I'm gonig to need a miracle though. But for now, je suis fatigue and I will attempt to write and post another blog in Senegal since I will be staying at the Thies training center for the next couple of days before being transferred to my first host family. Wish me luck.

P.S. If you are going to write letter DO NOT FORGET TO NUMBER THEM because sometime they don't get to Senegal and I don't want you to think I am blowing you off.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

A Final Week at Home

My final week in America has been full of emotion from the goodbyes of friends in Santa Barbara to the hugs and kisses from my parents in Kona. I can't believe the amount of emotions that are running through me as I frantically prepare and repair everything I can possibly think of for my adventure to Senegal. I feel as though I am unprepared, unqualified, and not ready at all to live in Senegal for the next 27 months. So, thank you to those who saw me this past week and said good bye. You have no idea how much it means to me to know that you care and possibly support my decision.

So, for now I would like to take some time to thank those who have pushed me to be my best and, as I have heard so many times recently, “be the change you want to see in the world.”

First off, of course, are my parents. With out them I would never have been dreamt up or created. I thank you for taking me to all of the practices, games, college, high school, and the list goes on and on and on so long that I probably couldn't cover it all in just one blog post. I love you guys so much and there is no quantity great or grand enough to sum up how grateful and happy I am that you, Dennis and Claudia, are my parents. Your the best (not only for getting me the best seat in coach, window seat on the emergency exit) for always supporting me, caring for me, and putting up with my antics even if I did at times release my Velcro leash and run around crazy. You've always chased after me and brought me back. I love you.

Next, are my brother and sister for allowing me to learn from their mistakes (I guess that is the beauty of being the youngest child). Thank you, for being great people and setting good examples for me to follow and try to surpass. You've created a good path for me to follow and branch off from. I love you guys.

And last but not least are my friends. I don't know where I would be with out my friends. You guys are my second family as we share times as high as a National Championship and low as a one of us going to prison we pulled together and we always there for each other. Thank you for taking care of me (especially you Meredith). Please, keep in touch I promise I will write back. I wish you guys the best in all of your future endeavors and I hope one day I will see each and everyone of you guys again.

Well, its getting late and I've got full belly of Paiea. Next, stop Washington, D.C.


Side note: My address for training will be (i.e. the first 3 months in Senegal):

PCT Christopher J. Cintas
Corps de la Paix
B.P. 299
Thi├Ęs, Senegal
West Africa

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

The Foreword

I am writing this first post with a mouth full of gauze while sitting on a comfortably modern piece of furniture in the living room of the condo my mother has rented out in Santa Barbara in order to help me get ready to leave. Yes, getting your wisdom teeth pulled sucks but I am sure it is nothing compared to some of the things I will be experiencing shortly. I mean I still get to eat Chocolate Peanut Butter swirled Haagen Daaz and the peanut butter smoothie I'm spooning into my mouth now. Come to think of it things are pretty comfortable right now.

Anyway, this blog, as stated in the description below the title, is about my 27 month journey in Senegal serving under the Peace Corps (PC). My official title with the PC is Sustainable Agriculture Extension Agent. What this exactly means, I am not sure. From what I've read/heard it could mean that I am planting, harvesting, and helping my village survive off the land or it could take on a more educational role. All I know is that I will have to assess what the village I am assigned to needs most by observing, listening, and experimenting with what satisfies both the people and the land.

Why I Joined the Peace Corps
Ever since I saw Angelica bullying Chucky on Rugrats I've had the need to be Tommy and help, teach, coach, or whatever in order to improve a person's situation. My first thought was to do this through soccer. I wanted to be a professional player who traveled and helped develop young players become professionals. I realized this dream was coming to an end when I broke my foot for the second time in a year during my college career. This is where Peace Corps came in.

Peace Corps gave me the opportunity to explore a new place, a new culture, a new life style, a new language, and be able to (hopefully) help better the lives of some people (and play soccer while doing it). In a sense PC is the total package for my life right now. Not too mention the excellent perks of completing your service.

My Preparation
Preparation for the PC has been tough with all the shots, hunting down doctors for signatures, getting my wisdom teeth pulled, and learning new languages. Only to arrive in Washington, DC on August 11th to receive more shots, pills, and other preventive medicine before starting the real journey in Senegal. Its been about a year long process and something I never really thought would go through. Yet, here I am starting to learn French with two less teeth in my mouth (fortunately I only had two upper wisdom teeth) and frantically trying to buy everything I may possibly need on my upcoming journey with out really knowing what my journey is.

Whatever my journey is I'm sure it'll be everything one can imagine and more.

P.S. I hope this wasn't too boring and that you'll continue to follow me on my journey through this blog or mail or email. Thanks.