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Sunday, April 24, 2016

Packing for home

This post is a bit delayed; not only have I already packed for home, but I'm one flight into my COS trip already.

Clearly too tired to tend to my blog
The last few days in village flew by like I knew they would.  I did follow-up work for projects, then went around the village to say goodbye to everyone and invite them to my big goodbye party.  Then I had the big goodbye party.

I made five pinatas sized and shaped like baobab fruits, then tied them to the baobab tree near my hut.  Only one kid ended up crying from the resulting scuffle, so that's a success.

toothy smile in an unflattering Senegalese outfit

Then I had a week in Dakar full of medical appointments and heavy beach drinking to say goodbye to my wonderful Peace Corps friends. Now Laura and I are in Athens, on the first leg of our COS trip, and I have no obligations, and I just woke up from a 14-hour nap and am waiting for breakfast, so let's do this!

My most popular blog post, by far, is the one I wrote 6 months into service advising future volunteers on what to pack for their upcoming Peace Corps Senegal service.  Six-months-into-service Kadiatou is very different from two-years-in-and-ready-to-go-home Kadiatou, so I thought it might be fun to go over what I have decided to take back with me.

Various Peace Corps tshirts: I have tshirts from the Tamba marathon, Velingara youth camp 2015 and 2016, Kolda Kalabandits 2016 (that wasn't an event, just my region being exclusive), and 2015 Access English for Success Camp.  None of these shirts are particularly flattering or beautiful, but I brought them all back and will wear them prolifically in the hopes that anyone seeing them will strike up a conversation and allow me to talk about Peace Corps without being obnoxious.  For the same reason, I have a handcrafted metal bracelet that says "SABALY" as a memento of the last name I've held these last two years.

Hammock, Camelbak, and Umbrella: I haven't used any of these items much, but they were expensive and useful in America, so they're coming back with me. I didn't have anywhere in my backyard to set up the hammock, and I got too busy to spend leisurely mornings in the woods near the end of my service, so it hasn't been unfolded in months. The cambelbak was only useful for about two weeks out of the year, when it was deep into "cold" season. The rest of the time it was too hot and sweaty to have anything on my back while biking, so i just strapped a water bottle to my bike. The umbrella wasn't useful because when it's raining, everyone just stays inside.

Cashew apple, guava, papaya, and baobab flavored jellies: I've never tried these (jelly is not a Senegalese food) but the flavors are Senegalese, so I thought it'd be a good, accessible-yet-exotic treat for my American family.  I bought them from a Toubab grocery store in Dakar.

Ninety-five water treatment surveys: I was a PCMI (Peace Corps Masters International) student throughout my service. My thesis project was/will be a doer/non-doer study on water treatment practices. I spent a few hours at a regional house trying to tally up all the results, but then decided I had enough luggage space to just bring the whole kit-n-kaboodle to Amerik and deal with it there. It has the potential to be pretty interesting when it's done. Some people treat their water with bleach at the point-of-use level, and some people don't. The survey was an attempt to shed some light onto why this is.

Kenkiliba: Keniliba is my favorite breakfast drink. It's a tea that's sugared to oblivion and really good with powdered milk. Usually, kenkiliba is gathered from the woods, but I purchased a sealed labeled plastic bag of it in Dakar so my family wouldn't be freaked out by drinking a potion of my gathered wild woods leaves.  Even though it's the same thing.

Dog leash & collar: My village dog died almost a year ago (RIP) but he left behind a really nice leash and collar, and I'm hoping to get another dog in America, so...

Microfiber cleansing cloths: My little host sister Djari was chosen by WorldVision to have a "friend" in Canada who occasionally sends her twenty-gallon tupperwares full of presents. This canadian man (his name is Gilbert) clearly has no idea what her life is like, because the presents are always totally useless. The package I looked through contained a gallon of hand sanitizer, a teflon-coated frying pan, a spirograph, and the microfiber cleansing cloths, among other equally perplexing things. I gave my family 500 CFA (~$1) for the cloths and they were very happy with it. The cloths were brand-new from Bed Bath and Beyond and were labeled $18. 

Flip Flops: I love Senegalese flip flops and brought two pair home with me. They are plastic, but have stylish fake zippers and ties and say "fashion" or "original" in cursive across the front. Classy.

Plastic Gourd Spoons: Most people in my village eat with their hands, but some use spoons, and if the meal is particularly soupy, they use these things that are halfway between spoons and ladles (traditionally made from dried gourds, but now made from plastic instead). I really like them and I hadn't ever seen them before coming here, so I'm bringing back a bunch. I think they might be fun to eat cereal out of. Fewer trips from bowl to face:I'm all about practicality.

A disposable razor: This is left over from the four-pack I bought at Thies, during training. Kadiatou didn't shave her legs or armpits, but Barbara does, so I plan on busting that out soon. Yay reintegration!

That's it! Thanks for reading. I don't know if I'll post anything else on the blog - if not, so long, and thank you. If so...I'll say goodbye again next time.

Love, Barbara/Kadiatou