August 3rd, 2009
Bet you’re all curious where I’ve been huh? Well okay maybe not but I’m going to tell you anyway! I’m on my little vacay, in Senegal, at a posh establishment enjoying all of the beer and cheese and ice cream Senegal has to offer in the company of 50 of my closest friends on the continent. So what have I done? I feel like a kid at camp…some days we have technical sessions, training activities, and other times we have trips to various attractions in the area including a company that hand weaves famous African art into huge tapestries the likes of which hang in the UN, the Atlanta Airport, and other rich folks home (they cost ~$1000 per square meter) and I vowed someday I’ll come back when I’m rich and buy one. The artist that scales them up or down for the patterns is waiting for me, he has faith, I’ll be back. The tapestries themselves are all woven by local women and though I went on a weekend and was unable to see them weaving, I saw photos of them working on huge looms and it made me think of Birdi (you would have just loved this place, I wish I could have shared it with you! What an amazing place!). We also visited a local artisan’s village but I found them to be way too used to tourists and seriously over priced…they wanted to speak to me in their broken English even though its much easier for both parties involved to do the bargaining in French, they tried to trip me by dropping the price and then when I counter they would ramp it back up and say it all excitedly like it was a fantastic deal for me to pay 2000 more than the price I just turned down, I’m guessing it works for them with tourists but I told them that I wanted to think about it and then peaced out, besides, my friend Dame tells me I should save my money to spend in Mauritania anyway, that’s where I live and work and I owe it to them to inject my money back into that economy, so I held off on purchasing. There was a little drum that tempted me a great deal but I couldn’t get the man below 5000 cfa (roughly $10.00) and I felt like it was a little bit much so I waited and found it from another woman that knows and loves peace corps Mauritania for 2500 cfa so I’m pretty glad I waited.
In the artisans village I met a gentleman named Booboo who spoke a good amount of English but was not exactly fluent and he kept calling me back to show me his wares, I told him I was just there with my friends and I wouldn’t buy anything so I didn’t want to go look and he relented but then called me back over later and asked “excuse me, can we do the friendly?” which I think meant that he wanted to be friends. Just to be sure I asked what he meant and he clarified with “you know…for….possibility.” I’m still not exactly sure what this entails but I said no just to be safe.
Yesterday we were bussed as a group out to a monastery to tour the gardens and watch the service if we wanted, and sample their Besop wine and goat cheese, it was beautiful there! We walked through grapefruit and avocado and cashew orchards, in vine-draped, tree-lined paths around the whole property. After that we boarded the busses again and took a driving tour around Lac Rose, a pink salt lake where men in dugout canoes were scooping salt off the bottom like sand and filling buckets that women carried to piles on their heads. It was really neat to see, especially the goats climbing the 10 or 20 foot high piles of salt. When we came out the other end we continued on to the beach and had a picnic with chicken sandwiches and apples and then swam in the ocean and played Frisbee...it was fantastic. So clearly folks, I’m living a very rough life here and deserve your sympathy! Oh, hey and thank your Mauritanian government because the delay in visa processing for the security team has extended our vacation and we will be spending a long weekend staying on the shore at another beach community where other volunteers have offered to give surfing lessons and huts on the beach sell cold beers. I’m really suffering…seriously.
If all goes according to plan we should all be back in Mauritania by the middle of the month with our noses fitted snugly to the grindstone, trying to catch up on all the work we’re NOT doing right now. I feel like one of those people that join the army picturing the deserts of the middle east and ends up getting stationed in Hawaii...pinch me, this is surely too good to be true!
Okay I’m running out of computer battery but love and happy thoughts too all, I’ll write more when I know!
ps. Puppy had 6 puppies...so i'll have that waiting for me when i get back too!
Pay it Forward
1 year ago