Recently, I’ve done a lot, so this will be a long, but hopefully a fun post! It all started with my first time to Dakar, the magical city where dreams come true. Hands down, Dakar truly is the mysterious place that does and doesn’t feel like Senegal.
A week ago I headed down to Dakar for the West African International Softball Tournament (WAIST). It’s a softball tournament between different groups within the US Embassy. Also, in the past this was the yearly congregation event of all PCVs living in and around Senegal. It’s just a very fun weekend where PCVs get a chance to relax, visit the amazing city, meet embassy workers and other Expats, and eat non village food. Being in Dakar, is unlike any other feeling in Senegal. Things are expensive, I felt like I was constantly throwing money out the window at taxis, restaurants, clothing shops, and good beer ;). This Washington girl will pay a pretty penny for non Senegalese beer. But really it was the atmosphere that got me. The buildings are tall and look new and clean, many big businesses are built upward not sideways, there are traffic lights (I only saw 2, but still!), I walked out of my homestay and saw a little boy riding his bike with a helmet speaking English, it almost feels like a mix of Europe and California with all palm trees too. During the day we played sports. Peace Corps holds their own set of games separate from the embassy. Our teams are by the division of our regions, and each region chooses a theme to dress up to. Unfortunately I didn’t get any pictures of this. Some examples were: High School Stereotypes, Shark Week, Land before Tamba, Star Wars, Pulo boys, and Bae Watch.
We played softball, volleyball, kickball, and soccer. Then in the evenings we explored the city. On Saturday we got to attend a dance put on by the Marines in country at the US Embassy. It was the strangest feeling being on American soil, knowing that for those couple hours, I can show my knees, speak English, and dance to American music. Unfortunately, I don’t have any pictures from that, so just imagine it.
After Dakar, we went to PST2, or what they now call IST: in service training in Thiès at the training center. It’s 2 weeks long and my stage comes back together for training in Grant writing, earthworks, integrated pest management, and much more.
Previously I mentioned something called the 5 week challenge. I was successful in completing it and the result was I got to eat this yummy brunch at my Country Director’s house. The brunch was held halfway through IST. We took a bus from the training center to Dakar, and saw the house that the Country Director of Senegal lives in. For a day, we lived life like we were in America. We watched Saturday Night Live in English, ate cereal with real milk (most milk is powder elsewhere), used toilet paper, and sat on leather couches.
Yup! That’s mac n’ cheese on my plate! For dessert we also ate sweet potato pie, vanilla ice cream, banana bread, and chocolate chip cookies. I am pretty sure I gained 10 pounds from that one meal!
After brunch we walked to a 2 story Citydia. It’s a supermarket with local and imported products. The downstairs was full of food products, and the upstairs had kitchen utensils, and toiletries. I bought 2 big bottles of shampoo and conditioner for half of the price and double the size of what I would get in Saint-louis, it was so exciting!! Even though I don’t have much room in my luggage to haul it back to Saint-louis after Thiès, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity for cheap shampoo and conditioner.
The past month has been a whirlwind of emotions (like all other months in PC). I was feeling a little exhausted at site, in need of being recharged, and being in Dakar and Thiès did exactly that. I could tell by how much I enjoyed going to the market in Thiès that I needed a boost. Being able to speak English in an environment with my peers who understand my “strange” American habits, did wonders for me. In one week when I head back to site, I’ll be feeling good! Today after lunch I have my first year action plan where I’ll talk with my supervisors to discuss what my plans are for my first year of service. I can’t wait to see how my Peace Corps Service plays out!
And by special request here are some examples of Wolof in my daily life. I literally said all these things yesterday.
“Ndax, am nga tangal daxar? Deedeet? Dama bëgg benn coco. Mën nga ubbi sama coco ndaxte dama bëgg nan. Apre mën nga ubbi kon lëkk naa ci biir. Dama bëgg ñar fukki dërëm soow. Soxla naa jerom benn saché soow. Waaw, ñaata?”
Do you have tamarin candy? No? I want a coconut. Can you open my coconut because I want to drink. After, can you open it so I can eat the inside. I want 100cfa of yogurt. I need 6 packets of yogurt. Yes, how much?
Hope you enjoyed that! 🙂