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