Sunday, October 31, 2010

From the Rolling Hills of Bakel

I have been in my village for about 2weeks now. Pulaar is coming along and i have enough now I can get my point across most of the time. Problem with Pulaars is though that they are so against critisism that when i do say something wrong they dont correct me. Kind of frustrating when you are trying to learn the language.

For the most part life is good. I feel a little timidated because though the last volunteer left early he was really well liked. Not sure where Ill fit in. At one point though I really want to be weary that I am not just everyones friend but also someone they respect. The last vol told me that they would not take him serious sometimes. .

Out of my first 6meals at my new home 3 have been cow stomach. This has raised a lot of questions. The first, where is the REST of the cow? For some reason we eat a lot of stomach but not once yet has my family te the actuall cow. 2nd, so there is some drama in the family. Which is great becaus otherwise I would die of boardum. So my dad, chief Jieng, has 3 wives. Two live with hm in his house in Gounoung and the third still lives in her village. The reason for this is that the 2 wies did ot qgre to him marrying the 3rd wife. So regardless he travels back and forth between homes. And everytime he returned we ate cow stomach. So there is two logical explanations: first, that he hates cow stomach and the wives are starting a munty through the food (i like this one because selfishly it is more drama filled and entertaining), and the second being that it is his favorite meal. Besides that I ate rice every day with veggies and say 3 times a week fish. Diet has been radically different then I am use to be I am use to it now.

Life Dilemma: I hate cockroaches and a couple live in my douche. Right now we have a partnership not to see each other much but like a sissy I always look before I go into my bathroom. This seems odd for someone in PC to hate cockroaches. Well I do. I am fine actually.

Been mostly working in the fields wih local farmers.That and asking as many questions as possible. Been checking out a 25 hectar irrigation project next to my village. It is really cool. The bad/good thing about it is that it is mostly Sandinka speakers from a nighboring village that work there. None speak Pulaar. Good because some, mostly the president of the project, speaks French. Gives me an excuse to brush up on my french. Now though my french is a bit rough so it would be nice if they spoke a little Pulaar. Helped clean out the irrigation canals. Was in muddy water up to my knees shovling mudd. Schistole here i come!

Amongst PCVs there is a friendly constest to see who will schistole first. One lives by a lake, the other a swamp and now after working with the irrigation project I am in the running. Not a contest I aim to win. It is fine though because it takes schistole a year or so to become active an to start showing symptoms and I get tested for everything under the sun every 6 months.

Other projects: started my garden and planted guava trees in a pepinear. Thinking about doing a math class at the local elementary school. The level of math at all ages is sad. The Senegalese education system outside of Dakar is pathetic to say the least. That and a lot of kids in rural communities go to Koran/Islamic school. Mixed feelings on them. On one side some of those kids probably would not have gone to school at all if it was not for Koran school and at least they receive some form of education develop educational skills. On the other hand they also take some kids out of the French (public) school system and do not provide them with basic math or other skills.

Right now I am in the 5 week challange. Basically it is to not go to your regional house for the first 5 weeks. I believe I am about 2 weeks in so it should be good. I have Erick, another vol; 6 k away and Phil, a vol in Bakel. So we will be hanging out a lot for the next few years.

That is all I got for now. If you want to call please feel free.


Wih Love from the rolling hills of Bakel,
Baba Ding Jieng (Oh yeah, that is my new Senegalese name)
Brian Bartle

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