Friday, July 29, 2011


So, it is another Friday and another radio show will but put on here in Kedougou. I am not sure I have ever describe what exactly our Peace Corps Radio Shows incorporates. I guess I should start now since I am in here.

The Peace Corps Kedougou Radio Show is a flavor of the week sort of show. What we talk about really depends on the time of year, genre (health, Ag, Agfo), and whether or not we feel it has importance (most of the time we do feel it has some importance). For example, last week June 22nd we spoke about correct spacing and thinning of corn and millet, Perma-gardening, and a little supply and demand. Most of these pieces are short, roughly 10 minutes, and explained with a straw-man skit. Straw-man means one of us acts completely naïve about whatever subject is being discussed while the other explains step by step what to do and why. The straw-man then repeat what the genius has taught him to reconfirm that he understands. It's a very effective way to communicate things that aren't directly tangible and the straw-man technique is extremely fun to play out as it often leads down random funny roads.

I'll try to post an example of one of our shows on the blog so you guys can listen to it.

Other than the radio show things haven't been too busy. Farming is continuing on at a frantic pace so that one doesn't have to farm too much during Ramadan, which starts on August 3rd. Apparently August is supposed to be the rainiest month of the year as well. That's good news because my local river and 2 foot waterfall should be flowing soon. I'll have to take some photos.

Over the last what ever its been. Time sort of flows together and gets lost here. Which is funny because they are obsessive about checking their watches and cell phones with me as well as each other to make sure they all have the same time. It always confuses me when someone asks me what time it is and their cell phone is in their hand. I don't always carry my cell phone on me so often times I just look at the sky and give my best estimate. I've gotten pretty good at it but no where near the mawbe (old men's) quality.

Some exciting news here on the West African coast in brevity:

Malaria and or Dengue are the new flu as mosquitoes take over
Presidential elections are getting heated as one candidate tries to slither his way through
Corn will soon be ready for fire roasting and eating at just 25cents a pop (too bad real butter melts in your pockets).
Waterfalls and skin infection win the awards for strangest couple and most eye opening.
PCV's being inventing a new extreme sport called mud skiing. (it involves some sort of vehicle usually a bike, rope, sticks and one large mus puddle).

That's all for now any request, comments, suggestions please feel free to let me know. Really I am just sort of writing this thing for the hell of it. I think there maybe a lot more interesting things written in my journal at site but I haven't mustered the courage to just directly copy yet.

Unitl next time I wish you guys all a good Ramadan. Eat lots of good food for me, for those of you near water sources jump in, those near forests/mountains go get lost for a while it's good for you, and for those of you who don't fall into either of these categories start you own small garden and experience just how good it feels to give life to something. Wonnen e Jam (Lets be in Peace).

Friday, July 15, 2011

Blog Report 15th July, 2011

Only a week since my last post, I think (not that I want to be this frequent), and I am back updating you, the reader, with my doings or do nothings. Let us begin with the rain. How marvelous the rain is after a few months of day after day of 110+ days. Even the shade under he mango tree was too hot to stand. Thank goodness the rainy season has arrived.

The month in July as all of you know and Kedougou, as I think I explained previously, just got done with their annual fourth of July party. I was in charge of cash/organization and am extremely glad the 4th passed with no serious injuries or malfunctions. Unfortunately that did mean I was out of village for roughly a week planning, nursing head aches, and saying good bye to a friend who is off to bigger and better adventures.

Adventures. I've been thinking a lot about adventures lately especially with all this rain and the mountains I live below. I know my area is beautiful but now that the dust is cleared I'm sure there are some good waterfalls, sights seeing spots or valleys that a beaming with new growth and fresh water. Over the past week in village I have made a little pat with myself to adventure a bit more at least once a week. I don't mean running off to the next village or going to the waterfalls I know exist. I'm talking about asking people where the biggest most beautiful places are, who lives at these places, how do I get there, can I take a bike, do they speak Pulaar, and Whose coming with me.

My self-pact doesn't mean I am playing hookey. On the contrary, one can only plant, weed, thin, and add fertilizer so many times. Corn, sorghum, peanuts, bean, and sweet potato have to grow on their own some time. I've got the date of importance marked on my calendar and will be there for the 15 day weeding and day 45 for adding fertilizer. However, those 30 days in between don't all have to be spent visiting farms or sitting around drinking tea.

You all are probably asking yourselves know, “So, what sort of thing has C.J. Gotten himself into? What have you done C.J.?”

Sorry, but over the past week I've been playing a little catch up and one of those important days (day 15 thinning) came and went with out a hitch. I'd did visit a new village, near mine, that butts right up against the mountain. The place is beautiful and they want a volunteer. I don't have the final word but I gave them the proper paper work and we'll see what happens. I also took a little adventure to some fields that are just recently being plowed and planted. Yes, I got lost a little but nothing to cry home to about (sorry mom and Dad). Other than these little trips I really haven't had any stories.

The main story has been rain and how wonderful it is. I am now taking hot bucket baths again. The combination of cold rain and hot water make for one delightful experience. Throw in a sunset and you've got one hell of a start to an evening. These little adventures and warm/cold bucket baths are what I enjoy most about this beautiful place I live in.

Alright, enough of the sappy 'oh, I live in Africa' business and on to some events, some news. I may have told you but my garden was eaten almost bare by goats. Stinks but I think with the rains it'll keep on truckin'. In other news, my boss visited me and gave me some props as well as some pointers. It must be a Peace Corps must for it's employees to be great motivators. Either way, he and I spent a few hours talking about my work and stuff and it made me feel important. Important like my work had a purpose other than to just feed people vegetables. Now-a-days, my focus has turned to farming and setting up small examples of mulching, spacing and thinning with in individual farmers fields (this should add to my adventuring).

Sorry this was a bit of a ramble with out much purpose or direction but I'm in a bit of a rush to get back to the fam-bam. Don't want to miss any more planting or the first opportunity to visit our very own 2 foot waterfall/swimming hole or fishing. I hope the rainy season is a good as I'm dreaming it will be. Water makes me happy and well the very name rainy season sounds like there should be quite a bit of rain.

For Kaveny,

Cooking a pig in the ground:
Rocks rouhgly 5-6 head sized and 2-4 fist sized
banan leaves and stalk or some other type of fire barrier and insulator
Drinks of choice
chicken wire
Plastic tarp

Dig hole big enough to fit pig in with about a 4-6 inches of space all the way around it. Fill hole with wood and rocks. Light fire, relax, and prep pig (banana leave and stalks on outside pig but inside of chicken wire plus seasonings). Once fire has burned down to coals and rocks are red hot fish out the smaller rocks and stuff in side of pig stomach. Sew pig stomach up. Sew chicken wire with banana stalk, leaves and pig sandwich up nice and tight. Try to not let any of the pig show. Form crevice of rocks and coals in pit for pig to fit in. Place pig in, if you have one place a piece of sheet metal on top of the pig, extra banana stalks can also be used, if not bury pig with first layer of dirt. Place plastic tarp over first layer of dirt and then cover the tarp with dirt. This should reduce the amount of heat lost via the top of the hole significantly. Let pig cook for 10-15 hours dependent on size. You can't over cook it. When ready, dig up pig, clean off dirt, and eat.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

One Great American Holiday

Alright I have been back and healed from my last post for abut a month now. Things have been going well and after a little catch up on work I seem to be back in the groove of things. I've distributed seeds to my farmers and educated them on the planting, saving, and caring techniques Peace Corps has passed down to me. Whether or not these techniques will be used is completely the farmers decision and from what I have seem so far the techniques have been ignored. I guess that what you get for trying to "change" a habit based on history and survival. All in all, I chalk it up as a success because I cans still try and at least get them to save the seed they do grow instead of being almost completely dependent on NGO's and other programs to come in and give them what they need.

Also, my garden was producing eggplant, okra, tomatoes, and green peppers like mad. Most of which, tomatoes and green peppers, I ate while in the garden while the eggplant and okra went to family and friends. I eas even able to supply a baby shower with enough eggplant and okra to be put in every bowl (for perspective roughly 40 people showed up not including my village). Pretty good I think. Unfortunately, the day before leaving for Kedougou (July 1st) my garden was broken into by some thieves, goats to be specific. They ate most of the okra, bitter tomatoe, beans, moringa, etc...etc.... Hopefully some of it is left but from what I saw the village isn't to interested in copying what I am doing but more so in just eating what I can produce.

Anyway, I also had a visitor, the volunteer before me, Steve, came back for a visit during his trip to Mali. It was wonderful to spend the day with him and hear what has changed, what he liked, what he actually did, and what the villagers lie about him doing. The village builds Steve up to be a real superhero so, it was nice to see how he really is and realize he is just human.

At the present moment, I am recovering from a long week of planning, creating, and enjoying our annual Fourth of July Party. I say planning but really nothing could be done with out the other volunteers in Kedougou. The party went smooth and I even cooked two Kalua Pigs (yup, dug the holes and everything). People loved them and I had never felt so Hawaiian before. Pulling the pigs out of the ground people began gathering, then I tore of some meat and gave it to someone for tasting. Eyes watered, saliva dribbled, and the frenzy began. I don't think it took more than 30 minutes for people to finish off these pigs. And that was that for the pigs. The party continued on into the night. I haven't heard one complaint.

Really now, this moment, I am putting together my life, getting all the things I have put off to plan the party done, in hopes I will be biking back out to the village this evening. I sadly have to say goodbye to a ear friend today. He'll be leaving for another adventure after serving here for a little over 3 years. I'm bummed but know we'll stay in touch. I'll say goodbye then hit the road and the next time I come in he'll be gone, still so strange. Until next time remember : Mon haylaaki, o haylay horee (The one who doesn't adventure, only shakes their head). Keep that in mind the next time you can't figure out what to do on a day off and just get out and walk around. You'll be surprised at the things you find.