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Kash's Journal

28th February, 2005. 3:31 pm. roomates

I come back to my hut, after two weeks or hard work; and major partying, searching for a place of solitude...only to open my door and find:

one lizard living in my armoire.

two new mouse holes, one right behind the backboard of my bed.

a bird nesting on the INSIDE of my roof. A bird LARGER than your head.

A whole new colony of fireants in my douche hole.

AND about five new chicks grazing in my yard.

Suffice to say, I have had enough roomates for a lifetime.


and for some reason, I STILL think my hut is the best place in the world.

Make Notes

25th February, 2005. 12:08 pm. 3 more months

I think one of my first jounal entries was entitled "3 more moths", because i was leaving for Senegal in that time. But now, two years and three months later, it is labled that again, because that is how much time is remaining.

I spent this past weekend in Dakar with every single one of my friends, and for the first time got nostalgic about leaving, so bad I thought I had to vomit.

It was as I was in a cab, going downtown to meet the gals for dinner. We stopped at a light right by the fish market, and an old cripple comes into my window, sticks his hand in, and sings "Griallah," or "FOr the love of GOd." NOw, usually i ignore all these guys and feel no sort of compassion whatsoever, from my hardened state of living in Africa for two years. BUt this time, I lookied at him and wanted to cry, not because i felt sorry for him,, but that i was really going to miss him and all those just like him!!!!

I am really going to miss this damn sandbox of a country!

I starting thinking about all my transitions in the past two years, from honeymoon bliss, to depression, to disbelief, to anger, to bliss again, to nonchalence and back to bliss, then to depression, to shock, to bliss, and now to acceptance and love.

I mean I really love this place, and I have hated it so many times. BUt it has become part of me no, and I canot change that ny more, ever! I thought of going abck to Chicago and stopping in traffic, and not one merchant selling marabout stickers, or toothbrushes, or cripples or blind peope coming up to my window, really pains my heart.

Anyway, so this is the beginning of the end. And I am just trying to figure things out, slowly but surely. It is hitting me it really is. It hasnt until now, but being thetre in my Dakar with all my friends, and being so damn comfortable in that ciyt, more than anywhere else on eareth, it hit me.

I am ready to go home, but I am so thankful i have these thhree months to transition and think about it. I used to think i coul d just jump on a pane to chicago an dbe fine, but now i know i will never get rid of this place.

my peace corps boss was a volunteer in sengeal in 1975, and he just showed me a group email he got yesterday from this peace corps friends in 75, and he told me, that peace corps service is only step 1. it never dies, and there is so much more ahead of us. thats a nice thought.

Read 5 Notes -Make Notes

25th February, 2005. 12:01 pm. WAIST 2005

So this past weekend, Dakar hosted the 32nd annual West African International Softball Tournament.

Hundreds of Peace Corps volunteers from around West Africa showed up in Dakar on Friday afternoon to begin four jam packed, ridiculousy fun days of softball and parties.

I don't think I can convey to anyone at home, how much fun this is.

Imagine, living in an African village alone, for lets say, like me, two years. None of your friends are there, no entertainment, no beer, and no English conversation. For two years. Then all of the sudden, you go to akar, and it is filled with young Americans just like you, that have been waiting to gt out and party for two years!!!! Oh yeah, that is how fun it was. Considering ever single person, was in my same position, every single person was hardcore into having a good time.

Each day we starting off by playing other peace corps teams like Guinea, Mauritania and the Gambia on th field.

Beer was sold in coolers at the sidelines from 8am. And it was taken advantage of. Every night there was a sponsered party, where the beer was free and the fun was unlimited.

THis years Waist was especailly fun, since I had already traveld to the Mauritania and the Gmabia and befriended many of the volunteers there. Likewise, they knew many of us.

Also, we overtook DAKAR. I mean, conquered it. W took over every restaurant ever club, it was as if we were the only residents of our own secret nation.

Anyway, I am just beginning to recover from it and it is already next weekend.

I only have 3 more months!!! can you believe it!!!!

Make Notes

11th December, 2004. 3:09 pm. LOCUSTS! Help!

Yesterday, the plague of locusts traveling around Africa DESTROYED my village.

It was late afternoon, I was sitting in my adorable newly painted pink hut, drinking a cup of tea, and listening to Charlie Brown Christmas Songs CD, getting ready for my upcoming jolly holiday in Poland. ALl of the sudden, I heard this fluttering so strong, I jumped out of my chair. I looked outside, and stood frozen in shock.

After the moment of hock, I immediately ran out of my hut frantic, out of my compound and just stared at the MILLIONS of enormous red locusts that blocked a view of the sky (thinking Armageddon was near(. All the women of the village began running pass my stunned self, dashing 2 kilometers to their gardens, CRYING and SHREIKING prayers to God to protect their vegetable gardens.

I have never seen such rapid and complete destruction all my life.

Within an hour, the whole village was morose as the locusts began to leave, after having destroyed EVERY SINGLE CROP AND VEGETABLE IN THE VILLAGE INCLUDING MANY TREE LEAVES WE CONSUME FOR FOOD. All throughoutt the village I could hear prayers, "For the Love of GOd, help us!" "Allah; help us!" "Allah is Great!" I get chills thinknig about what happened last night.

MY entire village was crying, all the women have lost their gardens, their money, their work for the newt 6 months. These are the dry season gardens that they LIVE OFF on and FEED THEIR FAMILIES./ ALl of the money the farmer make during the summer rainy season goes into buying the seed for these dry season gardens. Now it is ALL GONE. I cannot believe it myself, and hated to leave on the worst day in my village in possible 20 years.

The only thing I can do for them is once again encourage you guys to send the attached email to your friends, colleagues, family, etc. My project has not been fully funded, and right now, I dont know how they will even survive next year without outside assistanec. It is not possible.

Please one last time, forward the below link to your friends who may be interested in donating. I am never this persistent, but really I have never seen anything like what I saw last night. These people really need help.

For those of you who have already donated, actually most of you, THANK YOU!!!

Love always,
Kash





Greetings all,

Many of you may be aware that Senegal is one of the poorest countries in the world. Along with its' lack of natural resources, Senegal is prone to extreme natural disasters such as rapid desertification, locust plagues, and drought. This year especially has been a tragic one due to lack of rainfall and a tremendous locust invasion that has eaten and destroyed over 75 percent of the vegetation in the country. All Senegalese live year round on their rainy season harvest, yet this year most have only 25-50 percent of their harvest due to locusts and drought. Needless to say, this upcoming year will be a test of survival.


My name is Kasia Krynski. I am a Peace Corps volunteer currently serving in Sirmang, Senegal. My village is home to 800 people consisting of several tribes: The Fula, Serer, Mandinka, Jiola and Bambara. We live in thatched roofed huts and our only profession is farming. My village is in DIRE need of a community garden, including fencing, seed and a deep well, so that they can tend and farm all year long. This way, they can insure nutrition and food for our community despite the natural disasters.

Not only is the staple food scarce this year, but children is Sirmang on average receive about one vegetable PER YEAR!! They are prone to many diseases because their immune systems are so weak, and fall to illness often. This community garden project, is a solution to our nutrition problem, as brainstormed by the village leaders and groups. They believe by providing fencing and a well, they can consistently provide vegetables for their families, since they cannot afford them on a regular basis from the market.

If you would like to donate to this worthy cause, below is the online donation site link. PLease realize, that 100 percent of donations go directly to the community project. There is no middle man here.

If you can, please forward this email to friends of yours that may be interested.

All donations will be given to my village project.

Thanks,
kash

Make Notes

3rd December, 2004. 3:06 pm. PAINT JOB

My parents are coming to visit me in a month. They will only spend a couple of days in my village, no big deal, right? Wrong. My village family has already preparing for this; They insisted I paint my hut and clean out the weeds that make up my straw roof, immediately. I was like, "Fine!" So I asked them what I needed to buy in order to renovate my hut walls. I told them I dont want to make it a big deal and I was only going to paint my hut, if I copuld do it in a mornings work. they were like "of course, thats all iot takes!" They replied that it was no big endeaver, just go down to the store and buy some local paint and you can even mix col;rs to get your desired effect.

So I went on this "no big deal" shopping trip. They made it seem as thought it was going to be as easy as picking out paint at Polski Hardware, get some samples, pick one (I was going for the burnt orange look), have the guy shake it up and you leave with a gallon of paint. Not so here; INstead, after hours of questioning people, I was sent to some weird factory across the border in the Gambia, bought kilos of a toxic white substance, and two tubes of colored paint that i am to mix in the toxic chalk.

So after hours of figuring out what to buy, I return back to my village, where they said I had to mix everything the night before I started painting. SO we dumped the white stuff in a barrell and added water. Immediately, the mixture began to explode and bubble out of the barrell!!!! Now I have no idea what this stuff is, but I now breathe it every day an night, as it lies on my walls...

So then I get exited because it comess time to mix my colors of paint to create that burnt orange look i have been dreaming of; If I remember correctly, in grammar school art class, yellow and red make orange, right? Apparently, in Senegal, yellow and red, make HOT PINK! ELECTRIC PINK!!! I looked at the color in disbelief, but by now there was no way out. I gave up and said, "whatever, lets just paint." So my village brotehrs are like" NO we cant just paint, we have to chip off the old paint of your walls." ok. They obviosuly have a differnt defintion of a "no big deal" paint job.

So we started chipping off the old paint. Within minutes I hear my friend go "uh-oh." I look where he is working, and there is a huge hole in my wall!!!! I can see my otside toilet hole!!! Apprently by chipping that sensitibve area, the whole thing collapsed, because my hut is made of mud! He is now trying to fix it, but by touching the area, more and more dirt is fmlying off. Now my all is crumbling!!!! So now we have to go back in town a hire a mason to come save my home before ot completely collapses.

So we go to bed, no progress that day; The next morniong the mason arrives. We spent the whole day pretty much building a new wall, since it collapsed the day before. Of course now we have to wait for it to dry. Anotehr sleepsleess night not in my hut. Then THE NEXT DAY, we finally painted my hut PINK.

So now I live in an embarrasingly pink hut; Inside and outside; I tried to prevent them from painting the outside, but they insisted my parents would like it. SO now from far away, you can see my pink hut. It is pretty bright and obvious.

So there you have it. that is my week in a nutshell.

makes you really appreciate Benjamin Moore paint and my dads hardware store. Along with cement houses :)

Make Notes

18th August, 2004. 2:33 pm. Much better - Village wedding

Ok so its been a few days since my last entry, and I feel much better. Like i think I mentioned before, I go though a lot here, and its really hard not to be able to talk to people about it. Volunteers are great, but we are all in the same boat, so we just end up whining. When all I need is someone to listen and tell me "its all right." a friend, moreorless. So basically I needed to vent.

So i went back to my village after that awful couple of days in the city and as soon as I got onto the last 2 k stre'tch, and jumped on a donkey cart filled with familiar village faces asking me about my trip, I was immediately relieved. When I saw my mosque in the distance and the outlying huts, I laughed out loud. It feels SOO good returning to my village each time, knowing I will have peace, quiet, friends, my own bed, and wonderful people. That I wondzer, why do I leave to go to the city every 10 days??? Why do I do that to myself, when I just get stressed out. It pretty much comes down to two things, drinking a beer and speaking English with buddies.

Anyway, there was a wedding in my village this week. And again, for the upteenth time, it never fails, I had a huge grin in my face, and butterflies in my stomach as I was watching the celebrations, thikning "Oh my God, this is SOOO African, and I live here." It is a totally surreal experience. Day to day life in the village is really not as romanitc as you may thing: cooking for 6 hours, washing clothese, pulling water, weeding fields, all to drop down at 9am after a meager meal of birdseed.

HOwever, when there is a celebration, you can hear the drumzs 5 kilometers into the bush! Of course, like always, my village sisters made me look like a clown by getting me all dolled up in Senegales attire, with a head piece and all. We go to the brides compioun and the whole thing is FILLED with gifts; 100 pans, a morter and pestle, 100 cups, 20 pots and pans, firewood, mats, etc. The bride has about 10 meters of fabrick layered over her, her whole face is painted like a doll, and she has about 5 sets of huge gold earrings on and tons of talismans attached to her heair. AS I am eyeing the gifts, the griot "oral storyteller" is jumping around the crwod, doing dances, and singing the family history in five diffenrt voices. Chewing Kola nuts, making her mouth bloody red (its like a drug, stronger than caffeine), she was trying to rile up the crowd and it worked. SHe even lifted her skirt up as she was looking seductively at a nearby man, her 80yr old wrinkeld face in a wide toothless gring, LOL it was really a sight to see.

ANyway, like always, the drumming began and the dance party didnt stop. These women look like they are POSSESSED as they get in the middle of the circle, their legs moving in ways I have never seen, turned their bodies in a hundred directions, all with a baby on their back....sleeping. I of course got in, to please them, made myself look like an utterfool, to the great joy of everyone else. The sun began setting as the big fat mamas in back finished cooking their enorlmous pots of "witches brew" over and open fire to dispurse amongst the crow.

I really feel so lucky everytime I go to a celebration which is like once a week. If it is in a SERER compount (my tibe) they are the best, as it is us theat invented the DJEMBAY, the african drum. I alsways wish that someone back in the states could just peak in on me at that moment as I am trhwn into the circke trying to mmove my body aruond like they do.

Anyway, we came back to my compoun mlate that night and all relaxed under the starlit sky. My famlily began giving me props on my new dance move I displayed unbeknownst to me, that had my butt jerk out (jyrating, yeah real sexy.) ANyway they told me they were going to throw a party for me when i was leaving, and it instantly put a huge knot in my stomach. Here i was just a few days agoi, cursing everything, and then after being with people I really do love, that moment of realizig that I WAS going to leave them, and never ever ever have this life again, made me freak out?. I had tears in my eyes and a taste of how hard it is going to be to say goodbye.

I mean after all the hard stuff thats happaned, my villagers have never let me down. They have stood at my side since the day i arrived and immediately took me in as their own, a Serer daughter and sister and friend. they gave me their name, initiated me into the clan, and vouched to wrak havoc on those who dared offend me.

After all my annoyiong questions, language miscommunications, and faux pas I have displayed, they have never once grudged me, but instead just given me more help. ANd I was already beginning to plan my life at home in nine montsh, thinking about jobs, aprtments,e tc. I was really researching it when i realized i should stop at the moment and really take advanatage of it here. And besides I have like 3 upcoming vacations in 6 months, to other african exotic places, plus tons of work that will keep me away from the village. I just realized how important it is for me to be there and get the most of it.

ANyway, things are much better. I think the WORMS really got to me. I couldnt sleep, eat, only cry when i had them. my last one is finally leaving, and things are much better. It is soo nice to be able to type and sit without wanting to cut your fingers off. Pretty graphic but true. When you get sick here it is MISERABLE. Anyway, i have a meeting tonight with 6 volunteers at the local restaurant/bar in the cit. I am on the VAC team, Volunteer ACtion Committee. I know, such a dork. But we are the ones that makes sure DAKAR ADMIN hears our needs. Things like making sure there is WORM medicine in stock when a volunteers is in extreme pain!

OK, Im off. Until next time!
Kash

Make Notes

13th August, 2004. 12:31 pm. I am soooo tired.

It's hard living in a developing country. It is really hard. When you go on vacation, it's all a good time, nice hotels, beer, and palm trees. However when you are actually living there, its nothing ubt harship. Those palm trees may be there but they certainly dont produce beer and smiles.

I had a really hard week. ITs like my whole world fell apart in more ways than one. Rainy season has come in full force, and with it, its delivered all its gifts.

Worms:
To begin with, I have been infested with worms, for two weeks now. I mean, they are IN MY BODy, and I CAN SEE THEM. They have chosen mùy hands and are enwrapped through my fingers...five of them. THey grow longer each day and are really sickening to watch and EXTRËMELY pâinful. I have not slep in two weeks. I wake up every 20 minutes cursing out loud, crying, biting my fingers. It is simply miserable. And the only thing i can do it smear on cream every day and WAIT.

It is hot and humid, and there is no place with AC to relax. I cant get McDOnalds to better my bood or even a video. I cant read a book bc the pages irritate my worms. So I just lay there like a zombie and curse these little worms.

My doctor just told me that the reason they are trveling so much in my hands is bc they are trying to find their way out, to no avail. they are originally supposed to infect Sheep, that is their host. That certainly did not make me feel better. Now i am an animal, just like a sheep.


Locusts:
In addition, to that awful problem, people are beginning to freak out about the impending locusts. My job is too deliver seeds and analyze fields, yet only 30 percent of my farmers have planted!!! They are afraid that it will just get eaten so I think they are saving the seed to eat when times get rough. So I have gotten into many fights this week telling farmers to give me the seed back if they dont plant or else. Of course I cant do anything about it, so pretty much I have no Ag work to do, any my boss says "thats life."

City:

Cities are not natural here. They allstarted as big villages and just grew. So amidst some buildings are tons of huts and shacks and a vilalge ambiance anyway. This means they are totally chaotic and disorganized. There is no organization at all.

I come to the city today to get money, and because my boss said I had to change three things in my proposal before it could be approved. So of course, i am already on pins and needles hoping my proposal will finally be approived. Then I go to the bank and after a 45 minute wait, the lady closes her stand and tell s me to get in the other line, of people. I nearly lost it.

First of all, in this developing nation, there is NO BUSINESS STRATEGY. For instance, the local gas station used to sell ice cream. But they STOPPED selling it after all the white people, us, began buying it because they had to restock every week and itw as too much work. Logic...

Also, the concept of lines, getting into line,has not been acquired here. You go inside a room, and fight your way to the front of people, holding out your arm, and screaming to the bank teller. Meanwhile, people are pushing their elbows into you from all sides. Its actually really dangerous.

As for discipline, that was never taught here either. So as you are walking down the street, from point A to Point B, atleast 5-10 people will knock into you becasue they dont wathch where they are going. No one looks when crossing a street, and no one cares if they knock into you wshen passing you buy. So basically you are just constantly getting beaten in this country without consciously knowing it. It is beating me up!

Well at least it is beating me up this week. I guess I am just venting. Since I cant do it in the village. When I tell them my problems or concerns, they just tell me to "take it easy."

After an hour of getting pushed around in the bank and finally getting my money, one guy goes to me "see, everything ok? you got your money, there is no problem." I wanted to scream at him, telling him i lost an hour, about 5 lbs in sweat, and acquired several new brusies, that yes that is a problem for me. BUt they just dont understand.

In addition, EVERY STEP I TAKE, anywhere i go, I get harrassed. People constantly hiss at me, say stuff, and i walk through this town like an ice queen never aknowledging anyone. Its really hard on the soul. I guess it is mostly Kaolack. this city is known to be one of the most aggressive African cities, and it just so happens its the closest one to me. It is filled with merchants screaming for attention, mopeds cutting over your toes, and really dirty streets.

Even as i sit down for my "break" to read emails from people I love, people harass me, ask me for my email address or try to get in full conversations as my minutes count down. THey just dont understand. They ALWAYS have time for talk and greetings. They ALWAYS have time to kill. I guess in that respect I am just to American and canot stand to lose time pointlessly.

anyway, i think these worms brought on my mood. They are really really awful. Andi think because they have affected my whole body, I am just really irritable. Because as many problems and trials I go through living here, there are many many moments that make it worth it all, especialy living in the village. I thank God I am a village volunteer and not a city one. BUt I will have to write about those magic moments next time. As for now, I have to go numb my hands with ice to take away the pain :)

LIe I said, life is hard when you live here. ON vacation, you can go to the nice hotels, in Senegal too, and have a lovely time. But that is not life here. I am going to the beach in a week for four days, to be treated like a tourist.I am going to roder pina coladas, eat meat, and speak Engligh. Yipee!

Ok enough venting, until next time.

Make Notes

8th June, 2004. 1:58 pm. Transition

So I was pretty depressed last week, and procrastinating my return to the village. Little did I know my depression would seep away in the village, and these African rough cities was what was giving me headaches.

Anyway, after my arrival into the village, (my village mom greeted me in tears, wrapping her arms around me), I took a deep breath in my hut and was like, "Kasia, get yourself out of this funk.3 and that was how it began. I took out my journal and re-read my first page, and it sparked a lot of things in this little head of mine. Reminders of who I reammy am, and why I came here and put my US life on pause for a little bit. I would like to share it with you.

"March 18, 2003 TUESDAY
On the plane...Ny--->Paris

WOW. I cannot begin to describe what I am feeling now. How incredibly lucky I feel. Ecstatic. I don't think it is just luck that brought me and this amazing group of people here. Our choices were all similar in life, and all lead us here, and we are finally sharing this fantasy of ours, but its real! AGH! I am moving to AFRICA!

I am following my dream, doing it, nothing is going to stop me now. I feel like the luckiest girl alive. I am young, a college grad (from the best school ever, mind you :), happy, acting on dreams; independant, and totally open to all the adventure ahead of me. Come my way! Try me!

I can't imagine life better than this, but I know that it still can get better: one day I will fall in love..., or have children, which makes me even more happy since I know this will not be the last time I feel like this."

Anyway, I as happy :) and it goes on for a hile. Obviously, I was totally idealistic and romanticized everything, and totally naive about the adventures. Because they really had come my way, and it wasnt all fun and games. But rereading that journal struck a chord, because i remember that feeling, and how at peace I was with that decision I made. And how right and good that felt. I remembered again what I came here to do, not feel sorry for myself and whine about not having all the pleasures of America. but to help these people, but more importantly take from them, learn from them, live with them.

So although transition is still a struggle, I have had a great week in the village. The cities in Senegal are hard, rough, aggressive, but the vilagers are anything but, and i shared a magiccal week, looking at everything with those new eyes i had last year. Except this time, everyone already knew me and liked me, and i didnt have to learn their ways all over again. Its special.

So I am doing this for another year, not that there was ever any question of me quitting, God Forbid, but I am doing this the right way. I will stop whining, and do this with full force.

Love you guys tons, and see you next year (when I will finally stay, I PROMISE§)
Kash

Make Notes

7th June, 2004. 6:32 pm. village nights

I just finished an excellent book, "The Shadow of the Sun," that my friend Greg gave me while I was in the states. It is written by a Polish journalist, Ryszard Kapuscinski, who lived adn wrote about Africa for over 30 years. A lot of his thoughts hit home with me. I want to start of this story, with a quote from one of his stories.

"Whever I return to my apartment (in my case, hut) from some longer trip, I bring great confusion and discomfort into the lives of those I find there. For the place doesn't stay empty during my absence. Barely have I shut the door hehind me than a teeming, bustling, and meddlesome world of insects takes possession. From cracks in the floors and walls, from behind window frames and out of corners, from under moldings and parapets emerge into the light of day armies of ants and centipedes, of spiders and beetles; out fly swarms of flies and moths; the room fills up with the countless and varied little nothings, which I am unable to describe or name; and all this moves its wings, grinds its chops, and minces its limbs."
Rysszard Kapuscinski


Contrary to last week, where I felt I was the only person in focus, and all around me was a blur, since I have been in my village, the "background" of Senegal has been vividly clear.

Take last night. Nights are always welcomed here. As soon as the sun sets, people unwind, laugh, relax, gather and talk. The air is plesant and one can finally take a deep breathe without suffocating:) In our home, not only our nights pleasant, but busy as well, for we have a lightbulb AND a plug where a radio is usually turned on. My village sister Fatou runs an Arabic school out of her room every night, for the young girls ages 5-15, who are also part of ,y girls club. Considering there is no school in the village; my sister is a rockstar for teaching them how to read with no tangible benefits given to her. So as we finish dinnerr (birdseed) and I take a seat next to a friend by the blulb, I hear the sweet young voices of the girls chanting their koranic mantrras. At the same time, men and women gather in our compound to speak with my older brothers about village issues, or just to recap the daily activities and share village gossip over a few rounds of strong tea.

And I, sit by the light bulb, patiently teaching my two other sisters Ara, and Mati, to read Wolof. They are currently taking a class each week, and I help them practice every night so that they are the best in the class. This has become a nightly ritual for our compound for some time now. After about an hour of reading, I make my rounds to each group and say my goodnights.

I head back to my hut for my most priceless time of day. This is when I lock my front door to the worl, while the brisk breeze flows in from my back door. I put on some soothing music, turning up the speakers, brew myself a cup of tea, and light those scented candles. I get comfy at my desk, and begin either writing in my journal, letters or working on some projects or tomorrows plan.

However there is always a catch in Senegal. As I approached my hut last night, I hear vicious awful shrieks from the inside of my hut. Tehre was no mistaking those dreadfu sounds, MOUSE! Now, I am no sissy. I can play hard like the rest of them getting down and dirty: pulling water, weeding fields, chasing giant cockroaches and spiders,etc. However when it comes to these beastly rodents, I am a little sissy. "AGH! Mouse! Help," I scream. Of course, my family is so used to this and were just waiting for the next time they had to help since i have been back from america.

My two sisters run to the recue laughing the whole way as I remain jumping up and down on my hut porch. The enter my hut, gasp, and then begin laughing again.

"HOttie," they yell (that is my senegalese name:), "just come in and see, please!" As I cautiously peek in my hut, I see something stuck to the glue trap I set the night before. One mouse, no, two, no, three mice!!!!!! STILL SHRIEKING! All caught within two hourse. AND, one is eating the other, biting and knawing at it to death. Blood is splattered, an my hut stinks like rotten fish.

So the girls take those awful creatures somewhere to discard them, and my other sister Fatou comes to give me incense to burn, for that smell. As I sat there in my hut a little shooken up still, listening to my soothing music and with a hot cup of tea, I had 10 sticks of incense burning, which must come as a shock to any paserby at the moment. When incense is lit In Senegal, it means "lovemaking" is in action, please "do not disturb." People must be wondering...Oh Senegal! HOw many more trials will you put me through. The "hardest job you'll ever love" eh?

Make Notes

1st June, 2004. 5:07 pm. Burning

I FORGOT HOW FREAKING UBEARABLE THE HEAT IS HERE. You guys asked me a lot of questions about daily life in Senegal while I was home, and for some reaso I blanked out there. But I can give you all the answers to them now.

A1: No I do not wear makeup because it would drip and splotch all over my face like a Jackson Pollack painting.

A2: As for my hair, you NEVER see it, because it is up in the tightest bun possible while streams drip down my neck.

A3: I never sleep because I am either scared to death of the monster mice that I room with, or the millions of bugs that bounce of my walls, or perhaps because i can barely breathe through the wall of humidity that surrounds me.

Anyway, to say the least, it has been a HARD transition. I mean, it is MAY here. And that is why i went home this past month. It is the most miserable, hottest, most humid month of the year here, right befoere the rains. So only ALLAH knows how loud I will laugh and how many cries of joy I will make when the rains come. They tend to clean the earth, cool things down, and make things green and live again. Allaluyah! Alhamdelilah!

I will be going to my village in a couple of days, which I am really looking forward do. It is the best part of living here, having a village fdamily that loves you and cannot wait for your arrival. and plus, my hut is cooler than this regional house or any other place in Senegal. I cannot wait to be in my sweet little home again. Until then, I am stuck IN Kaolack, perhaps the hottest, mosquito infesteest, dirtiest, city in the world, working on some computer projects.

I miss Chicago like CRAZY. I miss my friends and family so much. YOu are the real thing, and it is sometimes hard to find that here, where everyone sees you as a wlking dollar sign.

Although I al totally homesick still, I can feel myslef adjusting little by little. I am beginning to get excited about projects, and the beach vacation we have planned in two weeks. Life is not bad, but it just hurts being away from my beloved hometown.

Wish me luck, pray for me. I need it this time. ANd write whenever you can. It makes SUCH a difference.

Kash

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