Pictures from Senegal

Sunday, August 30

Letters From Abroad- August

Hi Family,
I've made it. I'm in one piece physically. Honestly though, having a rough time getting my head around things. Need to keep reminding myself that this is just like summer camp only permanent and with squat toilets. There are a lot of people here and it's a bit hard to make instant friends and get acquainted with everyone. Hopefully when we break off into small groups it will get better. My french skills from Rosetta aren't that helpful either. Bummer. Already taking malaria pills. More shots tomorrow. Can't wait for the side effects.
Write me.
Much love, Alys

I have to confess, I was really unhappy and depressed my first day here. I was thinking every two seconds that I just want to go home and I'm stupid for doing this. But then I'd say I would not approve of me if I quit so early. I would be so ashamed!!! I couldn't go back to Hino and my house. I would have nothing to do with myself. I need to be here.

Then day two was much better.

And day 3 is ok, but a little scary like day one. It's really hard for an anti social person to make friends especially when there are 50 other people here trying to make new best friends too. I'm trying though. I'm making an effort. Although some people do not like my sense of humor. How is that possible? I'm waiting until Monday when we split into small groups of 4 to 5 people for the rest of our training... then I can get to know friends those people.

The Bleach Story.
We have to filter and then bleach our water here... but in my first weeks in country I didn't have a dropper for the bleach so I was doing it by hand. And then one night, while it was a million degrees in my room at 2am, and the power was out, I poured free hand in the dark. Subsequently, I drank too much bleach and had to be evacuated to Dakar a day later because of the burning in my throat and continuous throwing up. The med team kindly advised me that I didn't have to be here. Great. I had an endoscopy where I striped down and a huge man (who may or may not have looked like Frankenstein- I was mildly delirious from dehydration) held me down while they shoved a camera down my throat. Turns out I'm fine, with a mild case of acid reflux. Great.

On the way back the some current volunteers along for the ride convinced our driver to take the road less travelled to Lac Rose (Pink Lake) appropriately named because the water is actually pink. Surrounding the lake were my first glimpses at camels. Then five minutes more through sand dunes and we were on the beach! The ocean, my first African coastline. The whole thing was surreal, awesome. We drove the land cruiser about 3 feet from the water for an hour back to my village. We went through a neighboring village just as the fishermen brought the days catch ashore... swordfish about 5-6 feet in length! And then there were the millions of crabs running out of our way as we were raced down the coast. Almost made the trip to Dakar worthwhile. Almost.

Loving is a strong word, but I'm making it. Things are a roller coaster here between wanting to cry "Uncle" and really enjoying all the new and different stimuli. Of course I'm still in training and spend all my time trying to learn French, but I'm sure things will calm down some time in October.

Daily Food

Breakfast is very French. We take about half a loaf of french bread and smear chocolate spread, peanut butter, butter, or jelly on the inside. Then there is instant coffee mix, which the Senegalese take with at least 6 or 7 cubes of sugar. Occasionally my family will make eggs with lots of oil, butter, onions, and pepper. Other popular choices by volunteers are bean and onion sandwiches (egg or mayo optional), millet with sweat milk, or yogurt.

Lunch is the main meal of the day. We sit on leather mats on the ground around a big metal bowl. We get a spoon to eat with. Inside is a bed of rice with boiled meat (beef or fish) and various boiled veggies; some you'd recognize and some you wouldn't. This is the biggest meal of the day, and one mostly like to have visitors.

After we enjoy a portion of seasonal fruit. Mango, watermelon, banana, grapefruit. All of it delicious and my favorite part of the day.

Dinner, like breakfast, is taken at a table. It's still boiled meat but generally with beans, fried potatoes (homemade French fries), or noodles. Yes, noodles.

Sunday, August 23

Stay Tuned

Ten days in country and I'm still flipping hourly between fatigue, mild panic, and excitement for the possibilities. I've seen a lot of "different" things that I may never find enough time to write about; from the swordfish to the camel, the plethora of mango and the lack of toilet paper. I've already experienced the efficiency and callus of the medical team, and apparently lived to tell about it. I've laughed, cried, danced, ate, and even found a beer. This is only the beginning. There are two more glorious years to come... so stay tuned. I will not always have access to the internet, but I will post journals from my personal diary and little blips of excitement when I have time.

Saturday, August 15

In the beginning...

Arrival was, to put it mildly, overwhelming. As my closest friends and immediate family members can attest, I had a rough time. In light of such, I had the foresight to hold off on starting my blog until I was settled. I did however send numerous emails to the above mentioned and I will begin my blog by posting excerpts from those crazed emails. Along with this, I'm adding notes from my private journal and pictures taken by myself and friends.

Welcome to Alys in Africa...