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Tuesday, May 13, 2014

T minus 3 days til Teyel

Jaraama, yimbe to Amerk!  

I’m writing from the Kolda regional house right now.  We (the volunteers in my region) are taking turns moving into our huts because we all have so much crap there wouldn’t be enough room in the cars to move more than one person at a time, and there aren't enough cars to have lots of people installing at the same time.  I got the last install date, so I won’t get to my village til Friday.  That’s slightly disappointing, because I’m excited to see my family and run through tropical forest trails, but also exciting, because I’m at a western-style house with flush toilets, coffee, thousands of books, and decent internet until I leave.  I was able to skype with some friends I haven’t talked to in far too long, which makes waiting totally worth it.  We’re supposed to be spending this time shopping for things we need for the next two years, but after one day of shopping yesterday, I ‘m done and I don’t want to do it again. I tried to make a list of things I needed yesterday before I went out, but couldn’t think of anything besides a bed and a bike, then I went shopping anyway, and I somehow ended up with about $100 worth of crap, including:

o   A shovel
o   A pick (yeah, like an ice pick - it's to break up land that's too hard to shovel)
o   A propane tank with a burner
o   Tomato, okra, eggplant, and bell pepper seeds (according to the dude at the seed store that’s all that grows well during the rainy season)
o   A clothesline and clothespins
o   Hammer and nails
o   A washboard
o   Piping to duct-tape together and use as a hula hoop (thanks PCV Caroline for the inspiration on that one)
o   Blackboard paint and chalk
o   Several buckets and shower cups
o   A tea kettle
o   A fry pan
o   A sauce pan

And no bed.  And no bike.  Shake your head disappointedly for me.

I can’t yet say that my Pulaar is good, but I was definitely confident bargaining for things at the market yesterday, and I think I know enough of the language that my personality is able to shine through a little bit.  I still have to think for an awkwardly long time to plan out my sentences before I speak, so I know I still have a long way to go, but I’m no longer intimidated when I hear current PCVs speak to locals because I can understand most of it and I know that I’ll be at their level soon.

Once I get to Teyel on Friday, I’m supposed to start my Five Week Challenge, which means that I can travel around if I want to, but that I’m supposed to sleep every night in my own hut.  I don’t think that will be a problem, since when I started Peace Corps I thought the requirement was to stay at your site for the first three months.  Five weeks is a very short time by comparison.  Plus, I have a Peace Corps issued cell phone with free calling to all other volunteers, and I live within 10 kilometers of 3 other volunteers if I get overwhelmed and need to talk to someone.  I’m planning on biking to Velingara or Kounkane to use internet a couple times in the next 5 weeks, but I can’t set up anything concrete, since there might be bad weather on the day that I planned, or the internet might be broken when I get there.  Odds are I wouldn’t have too much to say anyway.  During CBT (language immersion) I did a lot of sitting, tea drinking, and having very basic conversations about where I’m from, what I’m here for, and why I don’t have a husband.  Those conversations are important to learn a language, but they don’t exactly make great story fodder. 

Talk to you all later!  If you’ve got some time to kill the next couple days, try to have skype open so we can catch up.