Pictures from Senegal

Sunday, March 7

What Hobbies?

Before I left, there were a number of different interviews to join the PC. One face to face, and quite a few more via telephone. If memory serves, in every one of them I was asked how I was going to cope with the stresses of this new job. I can't remember my answers specifically, but I'm sure it was nothing those guys in DC hadn't heard before: something about finding new hobbies or keeping up with my old ones.

Well, my old stress releasing hobbies included watching movies, tennis, working out, reading, and cooking. After I've been here nearly 6 months, I can effectively determine which of these will work, and which wont. There is a tennis court in the westernized neighborhood, but as I didn't bring my racket and I haven't met anyone else who plays... we're out of luck there. And speaking of workout in general, there's no gym per se here so I'm left to my own devices (not the best scenario). The PC bike I was issued isn't useful in the land of sand. And as it is so hot, I'm considering a modified version of bichrem yoga (heat provided by Mama Africa).

There is a mild shortage of reading material. There are books, but this requires 1) reading in french or 2) going to the PC library- out of Mboro- and trading out on a regular basis. Who has the time for that? I could get an online subscription, but that costs money. For now, I'll keep reading, but at a reduced pace, utilizing the library and Google news. Movies are a little more readily available. There is an underground trading of movies throughout PC, and now that I have a very large external hard drive (thanks Dad) I am building a database of my favorite movies and TV shows to keep myself entertained.

And lastly, cooking. I'm fairly certain that my family not only doesn't believe that I've lived alone before, but they also are sure I can't cook. I've made things for them. I've explained that I lived alone. I even talk about recipes and preparation methods with my mom. They still don't trust me. I can cook when I go to PC regional houses out of Mboro, but again that's a vacation time scenario. Occasionally, I can force my hand at home (when fish is being served for everyone else) if I jump in before my mom and start making something, but that doesn't happen often as I do try to work a lot.

OK, at this point I have movies, some reading, potential yoga (although I'd need to find a mat), and sporadic cooking experiences. It's time to find other hobbies. Preferably something involving motion as movies already covers the sitting on my butt style. A few weeks back I was feeling particularly bored and guilty for sitting in my room for hours at a time during the afternoon, so I grabbed my camera and started taking pictures of my brother. Then I wandered around outside and took a few more shots. The next day I started walking around town taking photos. I did this a few more times, even going to the market with my mom one day. I rather enjoyed myself- though I took a lot of boring stupid shots- because I did accidentally find some really cool things to shoot, played with the old beat up camera figuring out some different techniques, and got myself out of the house. Aside from the nice long walks, and people I got to meet because of this activity, I found out that my town is creating a website and there is the potential that some of my pictures could be utilized there. Score.

Other possibilities I'm considering are joining the church choir (because they have a keyboard I could potential borrow), but I have a feeling that requires a certain amount of religious commitment I'm not thrilled about. Or there's taking up running in the wee hours of the daylight. I hate running. Perhaps I can skip trying cooking myself meals, and start baking desserts or breakfast items. I suppose that one could also consider blog writing to be a new hobby, though I frequently find myself mildly stressed at the self-imposed "one entry per week" mandate and the constant reminder the back of my mind to be on the look out for discussion topics. But what's a girl to do? Gotta keep the folks apprised of the situation.

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