Just as I did in college, I want to make sure I don't run out of things to do, so I caved to the pleas of a neighboring village 2km away and am helping them as well with a second women's garden. Lets just say by the time the hot seasons over, we might have something growing. The women in this village often don't show up after I make the 30-40 minute walk there to teach/help them. I gotta say it is hard for them though as they have 9 million kids, and sometimes they are on breakfast duty so they are cooking when i show up, and then theres a baptism, wedding, or funeral about every other day around here. Them not coming combined with them not understanding or listening to much of what I say is making gardening very difficult. Also, chicken managed to eat all but one small pepiniere of tomatoes and lettuce. The women decided to transplant and redo pepinieres in a new location. When the had the fence "ready" we dug and transplanted. The next day when I arrived goats had eaten everything we transplanted. So, at this time the garden amounts to about 20-30 plants and the women still have no idea what I am teaching them. Hopefully it improves with time.
If I thought I was going to have any chance of free time, it vanished when I started a 3rd garden. These women live in the same village as the second garden and are not involved in that garden because they refused to show up when they were called. Sound like a recipe for success to you???? But, one of the women were named after my dad's mother in village and so of course he sided with them and a 3rd garden was born. (The funny part is, my dad keeps saying I'm working too hard and I need to rest more. I wonder how resting and walking 2km to help with the gardens about 4 times a week adds up to resting???) These women at least are determined and they do show up and are learning more quickly it seems than either of the other two gardens. The only problem is that if they had their say, I would show up 2 times a day every day. (Sick or healthy, busy or not!!!) I'm curious how they would hold up in my position. An hour and a half of walking 4 times or so a week is not exactly something any Senegalese person would take up.
For those of you who may think I'm just off vacationing in Senegal, don't worry, I'm not running out of projects yet. I had a meeting with my village and am going to be starting trees for 3 live fences, 4 windbreaks, and trees for erosion control. I am also hoping to get a mango and cashew formation in my village inshallah. Oh and I can't forget about the latrine project I'm beginning or the business lessons I hope to have with the women in the village. If I get to bored, I've got a few health projects on the back burner as well.
Sorry if this comes out a little bitter or as a little bit whiny. I really am happy here and enjoy what I'm doing. Dealing with people in any culture has its pluses and minuses, frustrations and joys. Cultural differences, language troubles, and human nature itself tend to cause a hard situation to become a little bid harder. But as another wise Peace Corps volunteer advised me, we didn't come here as an easy way out. Being a Peace Corps volunteer is anything but easy, but it is a chance to develop and to grow and to change. Its an opportunity to see the world in a different light and expand your worldview. I've also heard a quote about Peace Corps being the worst job we'll ever love. And, when you are walking home frustrated because goats finished off your garden and see about 10 monkeys jump out of a tree and run off less than 1km from your site, your day gets a little better. Or when you are tired of people yelling at you and calling you toubab instead of greeting you and using your name, you might give them a little lecture that has your Senegalese friends rolling they are laughing so hard and you will undoubtably join in. (By lecture I mean I said, the word toubab is bad, my name is Yumma, and if you call me toubab I'll hit you till you die.) (P.S. Only in Senegal do they say I'll hit you till you die or I'll hit you till you poop a threat for constant use.) Or when you get so frustrated with the people not listening, you start yelling in Pulaar and saying your leaving to the result of the women laughing, saying you really do understand your language, and occasionally finally listening to the point you were making. Their are little blessings hid in everything.
Oh and I now have a new friend in village. His name is Sidibe and he's never mad at me, his only desire to increase my work load is to spend a little time with him, he listens to me complain, and he is learning both pulaar and english. I am his favorite person in the world, he chases off goats, licks my wounds, and loves me unconditionally. He also had four legs, a waggly tail, and an aversion to goats, donkeys, or any other four legged animal. He's an adorable little dog.
I'm thinking Gary Allan made a great point in his song "Songs about Rain." I accidently only put 102 songs on my mp3 player and that was one of them. So for the last two weeks, I was going crazy listening to the same songs over and over and over. When that song, "I Love A Rainy Night", and "Like The Rain" keep coming on and I know I won't see rain until the beginning of July its a little depressing. It hasn't rained in my village since I arrived in October.
Oh and good news!!! Med arrived at the Kaolack house today and so I will now be taking a whole pharmacies worth of drugs. I'm taking Erythromycin for my gazillion cuts that are all infected, Fasizyne for giardia, and Intetrix for amoebas. Any bacteria or parasites in my body are going to be screaming for mercy. After this I should be healthy as a horse. Although with the amount of tree sacks and baggage in general i'm taking back to site tomorrow, I will probably be dreaming of chiropractors.
Well thats all for now! Tomorrow I'm back off to the grindstone.