Friday, November 25, 2011


Senegal has a variety of animals living in the wild that (I could be wrong) one cannot see in the wild in America. Things such as lions ("ohhh!"),Snakes ("ewww"), lizards, and yes the cute and cuddly hippopotomaus. Not to brag but I have seen a few of these little critters while attending to the daily business.

Baby hippo - Early in my service our entire region (Senegal is broken in 14 I belieev) went on a retreat in order to discuss desired projects, a visons for the year, and possible improvements. This pas tyear it was held at a Campement roughly 40km North of the Goo. The trip was pretty standard some alcohol, arranging for one of the worker's wifes to cook for us instead of the regular white people chef they have on tap, and the daily out door frolicing near the river.

I was fortunate enough to be blessed with a thought full, creative, and fish loving father who decided to send me a fishing pole. Sorry Pop, it's been used once but it does play a key role in this story.

A now retired volunteer and I decided, knowing the the campement is on the Gambia river, to bring the pole along just in case. After a long day of meetings and discussions we decided to get a few casts in before the sun fully set. Per usual we stayed out casting away, really just messing around, until dusk. Now, as many of you dwellers of the developed world may have forgotten but with no cars, generators, tvs, radios, or noise making devices the world is a fairly quite place and atleast in my perspective the darkness brings about with it a new level of silence. My friend and I were slowly approaching this silenece when it was abruptly broken with sound of water breaking. (You know the sound that you heard when you submerge a bottle under water and it pops back up or when your ears exit the water and are ambushed by the freedom of air).

Anyway, immediately we looked to the river and found a cute little Baby hippo (real life size probably about the size of a small car) and its mother. They came for down river and were sitting behind a little rock sehlf in the middle of the river avoiding the current. The baby was attempting to climb the rock. A few seconds later we began to notice the shines of not jus the two hippos but roughyl 3 others also resting in the shelter provide by the rocks from the stream current. My initial though, like any, was this is awesome, how can I get closer? We quickly scuried down the river bank to a clearing that put us directly in line with them and at roughly 50 yards away.

As we sit and watch these beautiful creatures the sun grows tired and decides to go to bed. We stand mesmerized staring now only at the contrast of shinynes between the hippos and water. No we don't have a flashlight. Why would we? CRACK, RUSSLE, SPLASH! We freak out now in an instant realizing hippos are very territorial, especially around their young and in the dark and they can easily out run us on land. We take off running/fast walking up the bank, down the trail and back to camp.

We laugh as we arrive, out of breath, and only able to ask, "Did you see it? Was it a hippo? Shit!" The crash was big (hence, the capitals), the russle equally as big and the splash well you can imagine. Waht caused it? I don't know but that Baby Hippo sure was cute.

For more info on hippos -

Reptiles - There aer many reptiles in Senegal most of which youreally don't want anything to do with. I've seen them in the back of my hut and be headed (the common death penalty of a found snake after being beaten with a stick) on the side of the road. The other common reptile of interest that I've seen commonly are monitor lizards. They usually scare the crap out of you by plopping out of a tree, scurrying through the bushes, or swimming across a river. These actions are also true for most snakes.
My most recent enconter with one of these lizards was down at a farmer's field. His 10 year old son pointed the lizard out to me. It was sitting high up in a tree and appeared to me to be pretty tires, maybe a little hungry but definitely thirsty. The boy and by this time his mother, little brothers and father all agreed with me as we stared up at this lizard willing it to move.
The boy had other plans. No sooner than I pulled out my camera to take photos the boy was hurling rocks at the lizard to get it to come down. His little brother, age 2, scurried to his mother and somehow never took his eyes off the lizard. The rock throwing continued for about 15 minutes, none ever hit the lizard, until finally the boy's mother decided it was time for them to get back to picking peanuts.
The lizard seemed unperturbed but as we began to leave it turned around and started down the tree a little. I left for another field but was greeted later that night by an estatic little boy claiming he had hit the lizard with a rock, causing it to come down and run away. This is fairly classic rural animal and human interaction in Senegal however, this doesn't hold true with some of the larger mammals.

Lion - Ona return trip from Dakar I must pass through a National Park in which there is no cell service, houses, and one will see numerous monkeys, warthogs, and sometimes a lion. I got a fairly late start this particulair day getting out on the road for the last leg of my trip home. The sun began to set and most of the people in the car were asleep, thank goodness the driver was not. As we putted down the road a strangefigure began to emerge from the distance. The figure seemed to be laying on the road. My first assumption was it was a cow but as we approached I saw that it was a tad smaller than a cow. I live with Pulaar people I know what a cow looks like. I then decided it was a dog but quickly destroyed that though as the animal was much to large to be a dog. I hadn't made my third prediction when we arrived at the animal's resting spot. The driver was jsut as curious if not more than I in what this things actually was and upon learning what it was he quickly sped up and looked back at me.
He asked, "Did you see that?" Me, "Ya, what was it? Was it a lion?" He just nodded manicly and focused his speeding car down the road as his fear stem from the numerous stories people tell of bikers, herders, and even cars being chased, harrassed and sometimes destroyed by lions. I on the other hand was shocked but it made sense. This large figure mimicked the way a dog or cat would lay. It was smaller than a cow but much larger than a dog. It was a lion.

These are just a few of the animal encounters. Others include hearing Hyenas at night as they follow our cows back to the village, warthogs, and monkeys. I unforuntaely have not seen Chimpanzees yet but will before leaving. Any questions?

I stink at keeping this thing updated.

As the holliday times roll around volunteers begin to plan their trips home and families and friends begin to roll in to Senegal. As the times are in America, Senegal is happy and cheerful in the Peace Corps's world during the holidays. Even amongst the arguments over an upcoming election, this years drought, and the constant "Tobabing" children we volunteers seem to be able to make ourselves feel at home. Before I forget I'd like to wish you all a late Happy Thanksgiving, a Merry/Happy what ever religous holiday you celebrate and if none the have a good day, and of course a Happy New Year. Thought I would cover all the bases all at once just in case I don't write another blog post for the rest of my service.
I decided to jump back on the band wagon of blog posting after sharing some of the interesting stories I've thought I told my parents but have some how gotten lost in the back of my now some what Sengalese mind. Some of these are happy, some are sad and as I am a fisherman's son they may or may not be embelished. That is for the reader(s) to decide.
In an attempt to use this little intro blog as a reminder and table of contents for the stories I will lis the "chapters" of the stories below. Seeing how I have been eating straight pork for the past 2 days and ran 15 km today please frogive me if the stories aren't filling your new found appetite for fresh African stories.
Chapter One - Animals - Over my past year and few months in country I have encountered a few animals that many people will only see behind bars. Some deadly, some cute, and some tastey and all we seen while simply going about my daily business.
Chapter Two - Crime and Punishment - Everyone thinks that going into a third world country means on will have to strap on a bullet proof vest and buy one of those uncomfortable and akward traveling wallets. The fact is that yes people do view you as upper class, even if you aren't bac at home. The simple fact is that you have something they want and they may just decided to try and take it. A variety of crimes happen to volunteers here and across the world. I'd like to share my little incident and how I've never felt more at home while being no where near the place I truly call home.
Chapter 3 - Police - The most recent story about how one event can be ruined by what I deem as selfish.
Chapter 4 - Disease - Maybe the most gruesome of the chapters. I think it is time you hear about some of the diseases, illnesses, and health issues I have personally gone through while in Senegal.
Chapter 5 - Marathon - We'll try to end on a good note as I speak about beginning to train for a Marathon in March.
I hope this works and I actually saty on top of it for your benefit and mine. My Pops says I should share these stories and maybe some of them he hasn't even heard. So, here goes nothing. Fingers crossed I don't bore you too much.