Saare Fodde

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

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Flag of Senegal  ,
Monday, April 24, 2006

Hello once again!
Its time for the next installment of my adventures in Senegal. I have posted some pictures in this update, as well as in a previous one.
Most of the pictures in this update are from a recent trip I took to Saare ('village') Fodde which is about 8 km from Kolda, to visit another volunteer.. The original plan was to see a wrestling match, some small theater productions and a drumming ceremony, but things didn't turn out quite as expected.
I met up with Alisaane (Senegalese name), the volunteer in Saare Fodde, at the Regional house in Kolda where he and his host brother Daoda were waiting with a horse drawn cart (called a sheret). It was my first sheret ride. We loaded my bike and a foam sleeping pad for my bedding and headed out of town. Along the way we passed several people that Daoda knew and so he offered them a ride. There were five of us and a bike by the time we finally reached our destination. Most people couldn't help but stare because they'd probably never seen a toubab riding on a sheret before..and this one had TWO toubabs.
Being in the village is a different world compared to my life in the city. At seven forty five every night my host father pulls a TV from one of our huts and the family and many neighboring families who don't have TVs come over and watch until at least 11 or 12. They gather in our courtyard on benches, little wooden stools or they sit on the cement sleeping pad attached to the kitchen hut. There is very little conversation because everyone is focused. (there is only one channel, and its programs are erratic at best and include old reruns from terribly unsuccessful American broadcasts dubbed over in French. ex. Moeshia, Passions, that stupid sitcom with Damon Waynes)
In the village there is no electricity. The evening is spent talking, looking up at the stars, and enjoying the company of friends and family. Its very peaceful.
We arrived just in time for dinner. Lacciri hakko. Lacciri I may have described before; it is ground millet that has been cooked into a fine sand-like consistency. (I like it, but the villagers generally don't. After dinner I told the family that I loved Lacciri and one of them accused me of being mentally unstable after looking up to the heavens and saying 'God help us to have rice'.) Hakko is the Pulaar word for leaf. The sauce that gets poured over the lacciri to make it a little less like eating plain sand is a thin very salty broth made from boiled baobab leaves. I'm not such a big fan of the hakko sauce.
That night was scheduled to be the first event of a three day cultural fair in the village of Dianabo. We took the ten minute walk in the dark just past eleven to see the drumming and dancing that was supposed to have started earlier that evening. Upon our arrival we discovered that the women of Dianabo had yet to start cooking dinner. The village women were supposed to be preparing the meals for all of the elders as well as any guests that arrived to take part in the cultural fair. The men refused to drum without their dinner. Just after half past midnight we decided to call it quits and walked home. (still no dinner, still no music)
The next morning after a breakfast of gossi gerte (rice that has been VERY overcooked and looks like porridge) we walked back to Dianabo for the 10 AM theater production.
We learned that the night before many of the men had gone to bed without dinner, and that the man responsible for organizing the days activities had decided to ride into Kolda for the day. Breakfast wasn't ready until after 1 PM, the men were furious, the activities were cancelled. We sat around talking to locals and eating mangos that the young villagers were knocking out of their trees for us.
The remainder of the afternoon was spent walking through Saare Fodde with Alisaane getting introduced in each compound. We made it back to his compound for lunch. White rice and a little follere. (a green slimy sauce made with okra and the leaves of bissap plants)
I decided to ride my bike home shortly after lunch. The cultural fair didn't look promising and I had a few things to take care of in town. I couldn't help but fantasize about an omelet sandwich in the market either.

I received some great news regarding my responsibilities in Kolda recently. There will be another urban agriculture volunteer assigned here. She will take over in my garden and I will become an extension agent. This means no more dealing with the stress of my particularly difficult counterpart and his erratic behavior. I have already started to interview the women along the river who have very nice looking gardens but often don't use optimal spacing, or treat for insects or other diseases. My initial survey will help me develop a plan of action for the next dry season so that I can possibly offer trainings or demonstrations to help them increase their production. During the rainy season, which will begin shortly, I will be organizing trainings for micro gardening and improved gardening techniques with various women's groups in town. I am also in the planning phase with one such group to start a community garden. There are over 50 ladies who are willing to work and who are looking for a little guidance about how to begin.

Cross your fingers for me and wish for early rain!
Last year the first rain came on May 23rd. I'm counting down at this point, tired of the heat. I hope this finds you all in good health and spirits.
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