July 24, 2009
Helllllo Friends and Family,
Here I go, playing with your heart strings some more! So I’m taking a little...umm…trip. To be exact it’s a country-wide peace corps excursion to Senegal! BEFORE YOU FREAK OUT I AM NOT BEING EVACUATED AND THERE IS NO SECURITY THREAT THAT CAUSED THIS TRIP! Okay, now that I have that out of the way, heres what happened:
I had big plans for this weekend, I hopped on a taxi late yesterday afternoon and headed out to Tabatha’s village, Coumba N’Dao, and we planned mosquito repellent making sessions, moringa powder demos, a pilgrimage out to the Pulaar village to visit some mutual friends, and some world map painting, plus some good old fashioned duck duck goose with the eco-health camp girls. Unfortunately, as frequently happens ‘round these parts, all of my big plans were foiled. About 2 hours after arriving, Tab and I were wandering from house to house in the town greeting every one of Tab’s friends that would be offended if we didn’t greet them the moment another volunteer arrived in town, me stumbling shamefully through Soninke greetings and Tabatha yammering away in her nonsense language as I like to call it (just kidding Tab, you know I appreciate the importance of Soninke, I’m just jealous because I can’t speak a local language!) and we get a phone call from Emily in Selibaby. Phone service was spotty at best and through the static, this is what I understand Emily’s side of the conversation to roughly have sounded like:
Sshshshshshsh(static)shshshsh very important news! Shshshshshs(static)shshshsh going to Senegal shshshshshshshshsh by the 27th shshshshshshshshshs probably coming back shhshshshshshs bring everything shshshshshshshshsh……(dial tone)
So naturally Tabatha and I had a panic attack, finished our greetings, because not doing that would be unspeakably rude, especially since we had already greeted some people and playing favorites is not a good idea, and then climbed up on the roof at her house and held our cell phones up in the air until we could get through to our APCDs and to Emily for more information and we learned that the panic attack was entirely unnecessary and a little over the top, but oh wellll. The “evacuation” is a test of the emergency action plan, we’re “evacuating” to the PC Senegal training center (apparently a 5 star establishment compared to our lovely Rosso spot) and hanging there on peace corps’ dime for roughly 10 days to discuss the future of the Mauritania program with our dramatically diminished volunteer population, which will probably involve consolidating sites that have only 2 or 3 people left in the region and a general, shall we say, coming together of peace corps Mauritania! As if we weren’t the closest most awesome group of peace corpions that ever there were…
Anywho, whilst we are gone a special crew of security evaluators are going to go through our country with a fine tooth comb (as they will be doing with all the sahel countries as a routine thing) to make sure all is well and good and that way when we all get back to our sites all of our parents can rest easy that our current living conditions are probably not sanitary or healthy but at least they are not in anyway threatening our personal safety and we can feel good and happy and maybe get some work done and stop playing games with your hearts. So there you have it, think of this as putting the lid on a big container that has all that crap that happened this summer in it and MOVING ON! Back to Peace Corps Mauritania business as usual!
After finding out what all of the hullabaloo was about, Tab and I canceled all of our plans, packed up all our things, said some goodbyes, and grabbed the first taxi back to Selibaby this morning. Now all 6 of my region mates are here, hanging out at my house, and tomorrow we move en masse to Kaedi and then Nouakchott where we’ll be meeting up with everyone else and taking a big ol’ bus down to our humble lodgments for a 10 day surprise vacay in Senegal. I went to my host family’s this morning to try my dandiest to explain what this all means in French and they didn’t really seem concerned at all. I brought them a baby mango tree, told them I’m going on a surprise trip to a Peace Corps conference in Senegal and I’m not absolutely positive when I’ll be back and they, being much better adapted to Mauritania’s tendency to mess up anything planned in advance, said “okay…safe trip! Hey wouldn’t it be funny if it rained tonight and you couldn’t go anywhere tomorrow?” (no….it would not.) And then they added “Hey! Lets braid her hair!” So that’s brings us to now, with a throbbing head full of very tight braids, packing my “most important things” to depart on an “evacuation” drill first thing in the morning, watching the horizon get darker and darker with threatening clouds and crossing my fingers that it won’t rain.
To those of you that know that when I moved into this house I inherited a VERY pregnant dog, no, she has not had any puppykins yet, and I have to leave her in a time of need, but I found her a very dependable dog sitter, and I’m quite confident that she’ll be fine. To those of you who get a hold of me on a regular basis, starting the 28th of this month I will be reachable only by my orange number, which I don’t know off the top of my head but I’ll text it to you. To those of you who are curious, I have not seen a giant spider since I moved in to my new house, and am being haunted only by the occasional mouse in cleaning up after me in my room and funny little toads that make weird old man noises hopping all over the place. And finally, to Tabatha’s Dad, Tab tells me you enjoy reading this, so I wanted to say thanks for letting me know that’s its worth posting these on my blog too…that and you’re daughter’s awesome, but I bet you knew that already :o)
Love and hugs all around,
Pay it Forward
1 year ago