In Service Training

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

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Flag of Senegal  ,
Saturday, September 3, 2005

Hello again!

Ive been lazy about coming to the internet these past couple of weeks because i've been in Thies again for my In Service Training (IST), which is a technically based training period to solidify the knowledge we were exposed to in our preliminary training and to give us a little extra language practice. Three weeks back in the 'big city' have been nice. Kolda has about 72,000 ppl and Thies is up around 600,000. Only two real paved roads in Kolda, where as here in Thies it has the congested feeling of a city back home. Im glad i dont live here, but im also glad i got to come back and enjoy the hamburgers at Pamandas, the local PC hang out after class.

I feel a little more confident about my site,and possible directions i may want to move once i get back into the groove of work. I learned a lot about ornamental plants and did some seed collection on a couple field trips to Dakar and local businesses that sell ornamentals. Im hoping to start making pottery with my senegalese counterpart (who already has a good idea of how to do so using cement and sand) and selling our plants in pots to diversify a little. Im also considering raising rabbits at my compound to help my host mother earn some money and get a little extra meat for the bowl. We had several sessions on small animal elevage including poultry and gineau fowl. Im going to skip the chicken raising considering they require a lot of vaccinations here in Senegal. I'll keep you posted on the rabbit situation.

Once i get back to Kolda things will unfornunately start to slow down because of Ramadan. It begins in early October (I dont know the exact date yet) and will run into November. I am going to fast with my family. It means getting up before the sun to drink as much water as possible and to eat breakfast. The last call to prayer happens around 6:15 AM and after that I wont be able to eat or drink anything until the sun goes down and I hear the evening call to prayer around 7:45. It will be a challenge. I work in the garden almost every day, and it requires a 15 minute bike ride to get there. I will probably stop going to work in the evenings since by the time afternoon rolls around i'll be tired, grumpy and hungry. I look forward to the challenge, and showing my respect for my families beliefs by participating.

Tomorrow Im leaving Thies with ten or twelve other volunteers to take a little mini vacation before heading south again. We're going back to Toubab Dialo, a beautiful spot on the ocean about forty minutes outside of Dakar. Good food, lots of rest, and swimming in cool water!

The next Stage of volunteers arrives in Thies to begin their training at the end of september. I think there will be at least two or three new volunteers coming to my region, and maybe even one coming to my city. I hope so because there are five volunteers closing out their service and taking off in November. It'll feel lonely without the friends ive just gotten comfortable with, but will also be fun to show the new guy or girl around a little.

When i return to Kolda in a week I think my plan is going to be to refuse to speak Pulaar for a month or two so that i can practice my french. I can understand most conversation, but havent been forced to speak so havent really improved since being here.
To those of you who have sent packages, THANK YOU!
it means the world to be able to sneak away and eat some dried fruit (or chocolate!!!)when the family is sitting around a bowl full of rice!

I hope to be a little more regular with my updates once i settle back in my hut in Kolda, and hopefully will be able to upload some pictures.
much love,
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