November 13, 2008

LIFE IN THE GAMB

11.12.08
Before I start. I got my phone- so buy a $5 calling card at a gas station or a CVS or anywhere and call me. It’s really easy.
011 220 706 0792
I should generally get reception wherever I am. And just remember it’s 7 or 8 hrs later- not sure.
And send me mail!!

Well I’ve officially been here a week. It feels so much longer though, not really in a bad way, it’s just that we’ve done so much. Actually though, it’s kind of been a vacation so far, minus the countless hours of language and cultural training everyday. It’s really beautiful here, reminds me of Costa Rica. Sundays are our day off and last Sunday we went to the beach. I got to lay in a hammock and just listen to music. Also the beer here is pretty good and I got to have a beer in the shower yesterday, a favorite activity of mine. AND I got all my laundry done today for 41 dalasis (about $2.00). I also bought 12 meters of fabric for 240 dalasis ($10) to be tailored at my village, so I will soon post pictures of me in a full Gambian outfit.

The foods not bad either--lots of rice, very few veggies, which I love, really good sauces AND sometimes ice cream. But apparently we won’t be eating such good food after Friday when we go to our training villages where we will spend the next 10 weeks. There are 4 other people staying in the same village as me, but we are all living with different families, I think. The other groups are staying in villages within 5K. I’m definitely looking forward to it. ALSO everyone LOOOOOVEEESSS Obama. They wear shirts, they shout Obama when they see you, it’s amazing. And the people are soo nice.

So far, most of the language instruction has been on greetings. You HAVE to greet everyone you pass by, everyone you talk to, everyone you meet. It’s insane. As you can probably imagine, I try and talk to everyone I pass by. You start with Salaam Maalekum and then go into a series of anywhere from 2 to, I don’t even know, maybe 20, questions. The best part is that you don’t answer anyone seriously- there are set responses for every question. My teachers always joke, even if you are dodging bullets, you say everything is ok. Even if you are dying, you say, I am doing well. Only after the greetings do you actually start to talk about what’s really going on.

A typical greeting session could be (the translations are quite funny):
Saalaam Maalekum
-Maalekum Saalaam
I Saama (Good morning)
-I Saama (Good morning)
Suumoluu lee? (Where are the home people?)
-I be jee (They are here)
Kori tana te jee? (Hope there’s no trouble?)
-Tana te jee (There’s no trouble)
Somananda be naadi? (How’s the morning?)
-Somanda be jan dorong (The morning is here only)
Kaira laata? (Did you spend the night in peace?)
-Kaira dorong (Peace only)

It’s really weird, you answer everything ‘Peacee only’ or if the question is, how’s the work going, you answer, ‘the work is here only.’ I guess it roughly translates to, “It’s going,” or “I’m working.” I’m not sure, but I find it really funny. So now when people ask me anything, like, how was the store, I just respond, the store is here only.

So I’m going to stop here. There’s a lot more I can say, but I think that’s enough for now. Basically I really love it. I don’t actually acknowledge the fact that I’m going to be here for 2 years. But thinking about it makes me more excited than scared. It’s just really great, kind of like going to school in another country (because soooo much of the day is class, like 8-5). Ok, that’s all. I love and miss you all SOO MUCH. Please write/call because I won’t have email for the next 10 weeks.

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