This is another article I wrote for the SABAAR, the Peace Corps Senegal volunteer newsletter. Enjoy!
Since I’m COSing and this is my last “C’est Senegal Quoi,” I decided to share two years of accumulated Peace Corps wisdom for the younger stages. I still don’t really know what I’m doing here, but I suppose along the way I figured some stuff out. Here’s a top 10 of my favorite Senegal Village Life Hacks. I hope they are of use to y’all.
10. Use regional house Senegad, libraries, and hard drives liberally. Don’t be a hoarding dick, but don’t be shy about partaking. They’re there for you! Ourossogui has surprisingly excellent selection. Kedougou is bad for clothes but has great books. Tamba is hit-or- miss. If you’re traveling anywhere, check it out! Worst case scenario you end up with a book you don’t read or a shirt you don’t wear and then you return it to your home house. Shuffle!
9. Plant moringa all over your back yard. You have the best fence in vil and you’re gonna wanna get that shit established before goats inevitably come and destroy everything. I didn’t do this, but those who did have a goddamn oasis going on. Garden plants die after harvest, but moringa trees will nourish your family for years after you leave. And you’ll leave way too soon. So do it now.
8. Stand in a beignoir when you shower. Then use the water for your moringa. It doesn’t matter that the water is soapy. It also doesn’t matter how large you might be – you will not break the beignoir. They’re surprisingly resilient. Standing in a bucket instead is an option if you have beautiful delicate Cinderella feet that fit in one.
7. Best regional house party mixed drink: large plastic Kirene bottle filled 90% with water. Add a 100 CFA drink mix packet. Then add a few shots of the cheapest whiskey you can find and a pinch of salt. YOU DRINK AND HYDRATE AS YOU DEHYDRATE. I have been hangover-free since I started this method.
6. The most delicious village snack is: a packet of powdered milk (Halib or Sofia, preferably) mixed in a cup of warm water. Add sugar and cinnamon. Pour over Bisko.
5. Make shelves for your room. All you need is rope and wood (or a piece of zinc roofing, or half of a
groundscored bucket). Tie both ends of a 3-foot long piece of rope to a ceiling beam. Then do it again
with another piece of rope about a foot away from the first piece. Then balance your “shelf” between
the ropes. Then put things on it and marvel at your interior decorating skills.
4. When Senegal kills your iPod (just a matter of time, son) download podcasts to a 2000 CFA market
USB stick and stick it in a 4000 CFA market radio. Then splurge on toubab batteries because they’re 10 times the price of the local ones but last 20 times as long. Then listen to “emission radio Amérique” anytime you want!
3. Get a cat. If mice aren’t a constant annoyance for you, you are in a very lucky minority. I personally had a rat so bold it would crawl on my table and stare at me until I threw things at it. Glue traps, snap traps, and poisons didn’t work. But since I got Kitten Mallory almost a year ago, I haven’t seen any mice AT ALL. He’s a 100% effective vermin murderer AND he cuddles with me sometimes. I was a dog person in America, but cats are resilient and independent and better for PCVs.
2. When someone tries to screw you over at the market or the garage, laugh at the outrageous price as you give the gouging asshole a huge fake smile. Pretend the whole situation is hilarious. This gets you further toward the correct price than indignant anger, and feels better too. It’s exhausting depleting your rage volcano every day.
1. Get braided. I’ve been using the same shampoo/conditioner combo for the last year because I only wash my hair once every month or two. It’s an amazing thing to completely neglect your hair every day and still be bombarded with compliments about how beautiful it looks. This is a unique situation, ladies,and you should be making the most of it
There ya have it. Bon chance!