December 20, 2008

I am here only!

side note: Akon's nobody wanna see us together is now playing for the second time in about 10 minutes in the internet cafe here. THEY LOVE AKON HERE.


YO GUYS! You may have noticed the non-sounding run-on sentences random-rambling tone of the last post- thats because whitney so nicely volunteered to transcribe a blog entry while we chatted on the phone. THANKS SHWI!! Oh, but my family's last name here is DABO, not davo. That's the only correction.

So I'm getting internet now for the first time in about 6 weeks... its glorious, except no one is on aim or gchat, which is unfortunate. ANYWAY, things are really great here. Although there are definitely some scary moments (emotionally, not physically, everything here is really safe and nothing is scary-- except maybe the HUGE spiders in my room and lots of bees and grasshoppers flying at my face--but other than that, it is really safe) I am generally happy and loving life. I did get bit on the neck by a big ant last night though.

It helps that the food here is really fantastic. For breakfast I get a loaf of bread, which varies in freshness, or NICE crackers which are tasty. I had been eating the bread with parmesan cheese every day, but I ran out. SO SEND ME SOME KRAFT PARM!! Now i put peanut butter on the bread, which is quite tasty and there is a lot of it here. Dinner and lunch is usually delicious rice and sauce with potatoes and maybe chicken or fish. And after dinner I will lay outside with my sister on a mat, last night I fell asleep for awhile. It's fantastic. My family here is amazing. I got such a great greeting when I got back from our technical training week. Also I get my hair braided a lot, which i know a lot of you will find funny.

-OMG, the song playing right now is like a monotone- cell phone ring tone of sean paul- baby boy. And it was really short, so I think that's actually what it was.

Um... So I move to my permanent site in 2-3 weeks. I'm really sad to be leaving my family and the only thing that makes me happy at all is knowning that cold-ish beers are sold about 3k from my village. Ok, that's a lie, I'm happy to be starting work and everything, but I just love my family and training village so much that it makes me really sad to even imagine leaving.

I'm trying to think of some specific funny stories, but there aren't any ones i can think of right now. Life in general is pretty funny. I especially love to say things in English that I know no one can understand and then laugh to myself- ie. I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT THE HELL YOU ARE SAYING RIGHT NOW! So that's about all for now I guess. Oh, my 13-yr old brother sings the song, 'I like to move it, move it.' and my 16-yr old brother has a mandy moore shirt with the letters in hebrew-like writing, which I find really funny.

OK, thats all from me. I LOVE YOU ALLL SOOO MUCH!! and I think about you all the time!! MORE SOON!!

December 16, 2008

TIA - THIS IS AFRICA

So Africa is a lot like some of you would imagine in. I live in a house with a corrugated tin roof, with no running water, and no electricity. I fetch water from the pump and carry it on my head. I'm getting rather good at it. I take bucket baths and shit in a hole in the ground in my backyard. But it's wonderful. I love it because I can wear the most ridiculous outfits such as Amy's Christmas pajama pants and any random t-shirt and it's considered a relatively fashionable outfit. It's also A-okay to go bra-less which I take advantage of pretty often. Everyone here is beautiful.

I have an African name: Mahana-Davo. Davo is my family's last name. In one month my last name will be Fatty. So my name will be Mahana-Fatty. So right now I'm living in Davo Compound. My father has three wives and approximately 20 kids, give or take a few. However, only 6 kids currently live in the compound. The food is outrageously good. I learned how to say "I'm so full but this food is too sweet," which comes in handy almost every night when I can't stop eating. The Gambian people are jokesters by nature. You can say the most ridiculous things and people love it. A favorite is to tell you that your father or mother is not hard working. To which you are expected to respond, "No that's not true. They are very hard working." And everyone laughs. Or if you are sitting, someone will say "You are sitting" to which you reply "Yes, I am sitting." We make fun of each other a lot, like when I wore my shirt inside out yesterday. Learning the Mandika word for "crazy" has been clutch. My family is amazing and I am really sad that I have to leave them in a month. They told me that they would miss me while I was going to be away for training for a week. And I miss them because the food when we're away is never as good as my family's cooking. I'm gonna force my sister to move with me to my next compound so that she can keep cooking for me. But I'm really excited to finally get to site and start working.

In terms of what I'm actually doing for the Peace Corps, it's not a whole lot yet. Almost every day is spent learning Mandika, which I'm getting pretty good at. (In fact my mom here has told me that I'm the best Mandika speaker in the village.) We do have technical training and we're learning ways to increase nutritional intake from local vegetation. We're also starting a large campaign to encourage breast feeding in the first 6 months. We're teaching them how to make mosquito repellant using items that are found in the village naturally. I've also been helping with wound care and how to keep cuts clean. My biggest achievement to date, however, has been the hand washing station that I set up in my compound. The people here don't use soap. They handle raw meat, then may rinse with water alone and then dig their hands into the food bowl. It's a problem. So I bought a bar of soap and this sleeve, then nailed the soap-in-a-sleeve to a post. I've been showing them how to wash their hands and encourage them to wash before they eat and after they go to the bathroom. They actually bring the soap in every night and put it out every morning which I find touching. I guess it's because they don't want someone to steal the soap. But I feel unbelievably safe in my village.

There's definitely ups and downs and times when I freak out. But for the most part, I'm very happy and I've made some great friends. And I'm very excited about the possibilities for the next two years here. Once I get to site, I should be able to get internet a few times a month so expect more posts in 2009. Happy Holidays! I love and miss you all! All the phone calls, letters and packages have been so amazing - you have no idea. Keep them coming. Love you guys!!

~ transcribed by Whitney

* Try pingo.com - it's a really easy way to get a hold of Marnie.