Almost a month

Trip Start Aug 30, 2009
Trip End Apr 28, 2011

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Flag of Senegal  ,
Sunday, March 22, 2009

Hi All!!!
So 3 weeks in Senegal and things are amazing.  Our training is divided up into training in the bigger city of Thies at the Peace Corps training center and community based training where we live in an actual village with a family and have language classes everyday.  I love love my family here; they are loud and crazy and I love it.  I fit in really well with their personalities which is great since communication with anyone at the beginning of my time here was restricted to my own version of sign language.  However, I'm picking up the language really quickly which certainly makes things easier.
    The father of my family has 3 wives, all of whom I live with under the same roof.  It's crazy!  But they all get along with each other from what I can tell (not that I understand a majority of what they are saying anyways).  I love my brothers; they take care of me and interpret whenever I seem to look particulary lost.  Everyday I wake up around 730-8ish, eat my breakfast (usually a piece of bread with butter and instant coffee that is mostly made up of powdered milk and a ton of sugar; they love sugar), and go to school.  Then I go home for lunch with my family which is always served in a big bowl and consists of rice usually with fish and cooked to death vegetables or some sort other meat sauce.  I feel like I am turning into a bowl of rice but they certainly have enough food to feed everyone and that is what matters most.  Dinner is always a bowl of rice with some beans or their version of cous-cous that tastes more like a thick sand than any cous-cous I have ever tasted.  Half of my family uses their hands around the bowl and half use spoons.  I ascribe to the spoon crowd because I am just not capable of using my hand that way; and my difficulty with eating is exacerbated by the fact that I have to use my right hand which is virtually useless so eating is quite interesting and very slow.
   The little kids in the village still follow us around and usually chant my name.  Most of the little kids are out of control.  They hit each other and run around with pretty much no supervision, but they all do it so the practice is widely accepted.  It's hard because they really don't have toys or anything to play with so they pick up things from the ground and play with that.  My little brother Ibou is particularly fond of plastic; I always take it out of his mouth but it doesn't do much good.  But he is by far the funniest little kid ever.  His toungue doesn't quite fit in his mouth properly so he is always drooling and he falls asleep everywhere.  We found his sleeping in the dirt by the teakettles one afternoon which was particularly entertaining.  I have a 3 year-old sister, two 7 year old sisters, and a 9 year old brother.  My 3 oldest brothers are not actually related to the family they just live there so they can go to school.  My 13 year-old brother's name is Lamin and he never talks; it's really funny b/c the rest of my family makes fun of him for it and he just doesn't care.  My 16 year-old brother Abdou L'Ahad is the best.  He is so freakin smart it's insane and he's the most patient of family members in terms of language.  And my 20 year-old brother Saliou is crazy and always dancing and smiling which is great.
  I find out on Tuesday where my official site placement will be and I am so excited to finally know where I will be living for the next 2 years.  I will certainly let everyone know.  I will write with more updates the next time we are in Thies and have internet access. 
Much love,
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jsterba on

These are fascinating, katy!
Really enjoyed reading this one, katy. How's the language learning going? Did you get our pkg? I am having lunch next week in DC with a guy who was at the WH during Clinton's term, now with Obama, who was a Peace Corps volunteer in Senegal 20 years ago. He and his wife got married in Dakar 15 years ago and one of his best friends in the Peace Corps director for Senegal. They are going back to Senegal for a reunion in a few months - will send you a note on anything useful he talks about. Your brother should be getting back in three weeks and all indications are that he has had a great time - while spending 3 weeks caving he apparently kept going where others couldn't/wouldn't go and they finally got him to back off a bit because if something went wrong they couldn't get to him! Also, my contacts in south korea have apparently worked thru the process to get lizzy's visa approved so she should be heading out in late may or early june. One last thing, either use or, as doesn't come thru. Love You! Dad

jsterba on

great entry!!!
It was great to hear more about your family. 3 wives....whoa. At least they can gang up on Dad if needed.

I sent you an email giving an update on Cody. He's doing so well. He's learning trail courses and working cattle now. He likes it too. I rode him yesterday and had a blast. He does that really slow western horse stuff very well.

Keep up the great blogs and let me know when you get the package and my letter. just want to know how long it takes to get to you.

much love,


anne.p.pope on

Hey Lady!
Everything sounds amazing so far. I'm so happy you are enjoying yourself. I always look forward to reading your blog posts so keep them up! Good luck and know that we all miss you and love you :)

daygreyridge on

Hi Katy!!!
Love your description of everything. I feel like I am there.Sounds like you are doing amazingly well.
Can't wait to find out where you will be for the next two years!
Things here are quiet. The horses are doing well.
One new baby on the ground with another one due any day.
Look forward to your next post.
Love to you from Susi and Bret.

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