Life in Kolda

Trip Start Mar 15, 2005
Trip End Apr 01, 2007

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Flag of Senegal  ,
Saturday, May 28, 2005

Its been about two weeks since i arrived in Kolda. I was supposed to be one of two volunteers from my training class of 32 (30 now because two have early terminated) to spend the next two years in Kolda however a last minute change prevented my fellow Fulakunda speaker from coming to this region. There are other volunteers in the area from previous stages, however the nearest volunteer from my group is about 4 hours by car. I have met several of the current volunteers and was excited to find that one was from New Bedford MA, the stomping ground of the Neves Clan. His accent gave him away immediately :)
The city is wonderful. The Gambia River, which is currently more like a series of muddy puddles runs along the edge of town. We had our first rain on the 23rd, and the rainy season is gathering force. Im told that soon the river will be within ten feet of the bottom of the bridge leading out of town. That excites me, and frightens me because the rain will bring a little releif from the stifling heat..yet my hut roof leaks..
i bought buckets to combat that problem.
I am living in Sare Kemo, a small village like district just outside of Kolda proper. It takes me about fifteen minutes to bike into town and to my garden each morning and afternoon. My host family has been really great. My father is a teacher and has taken me in as a personal project of his. I will say, my vocabulary is really taking off. Today i learned that there is a verb for guarding fruit that youve picked until its ripe. I love this language!
I have effectively seven siblings. Some are nephews or brothers to my host father (who insists that hes not my father, but my Koto, which means older sibling). They range in ages from 3 years to mid twenties. The littlest is a hoot, though she cries a little too much for my comfort.
I have my own building..which i previously refered to as a hut, but its a cement room about 14 feet by 9 feet. Room enough for a bed a fan and a trunk with some of my valuables. perfect. Outside my window is a cement enclosure with a hole in the ground for a toilet, and a second hole which acts as a drain (sometimes) for bucket baths. My compound has a well so in the morning i draw my water. Ive planted a couple small gardens i my little yard, and today my watermelon plant sprouted. ive also planted some vine flowers that im hoping really take off.
As for work: My official job site is at the Ag building in town. There is a fairly large garden space fenced off to protect from wandering goats and pigs. my counterpart is a very sweet man in his mid 60s who adores gardening, yet has had no formal training. He works hard, and wants to make the garden self sufficient, but as of yet has not been able to convert it into a money making project. He is probably my most valuable resource here in terms of language aquisition, and his patience amazes me.
I ride to the garden at 8 every morning except sunday and work until about noon..if the robine has water..if not, work is limited. I then ride home and have lunch with my family. (Usually a rice platter of some sort) then i rest until 5 or so because its just too hot to do much of anything. I ride back to the garden and work until 7 or 8. The work load will get heavier as the rainy season progresses, and i look forward to the challenge of managing such a large garden.
A little about Kolda:
52,000 people officially, though it has a small town feel because everything is so spread out. The market area where all of my purchasing has and will take place is probably the size of 3 city blocks by 5. The vendors love seeing a white person walk by and are constantly making hissing sounds or kissing sounds to get my attention. Ill tell you, you have to mentally prepare yourself to buy anything because it never comes easily. If you arent willing to bargain you pay at a minimum twice as much as you should. Ive decided to keep my purchasing to bare essentials.
I am happier than ive ever been. The people in the south of Senegal have a kindness ive never seen anywhere else. For all the times ive heard TOUBAKO! (white person) screamed at the top of locals lungs, ive seen ten times more bright smiles and laughs of joy at my attempts to greet people in Pulaar.
And lastly,
some of you have asked about ideas for packages sent my way. Gladly, ill include some of my latest ideas.

Jennifer Neves PCV
BP 278 Kolda
Senegal, West Africa

Crystal light tea mixes
any form of candy :)
dried fruit
Oatmeal or cream of wheat
antibacterial soap (rainy season brings staph infections)
something youve drawn or taken a picture decorate my bare walls
..for now, thats all i can think of.
Thanks for all of your support!
With love
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