it's official...i'm learning Mandinka. and the village i'm moving to is near Tendeba, in a central region south of the river. so i don't have to take a ferry boat anytime we all meet up. i like Mandinka, and the LCF assigned to my learning group is very very nice. all the LCFs are great, of course. so now it's a blitz to learn as much Mandinka as i can before friday morning, when i move in with my host family and have a whole day of "bonding time" with them. it should be pretty intense immersion, apparently they love them some big families. according to the last census (which was in 2003), they constitute about 40% of the population. so i should be able to speak to most people i meet on the street. although most people here are multi-lingual anyways. but all in all, i'm very happy about this assignment and can't wait to get started. although i am sad we'll have to leave the beach.
tomorrow we're going to the marketplace to buy fabric for our new Gambian attire and perhaps small gifts for our host families. i'm excited to get some fly Gambian clothing, i hope the colorful fabrics look okay with my tubab skin. "tubab" is the Gambian word for any outsider, they call each other it playfully and just reference us. we also call each other tubabs playfully, especially when someone does something particularly un-Gambian, like shows their knees or plays american football on the beach.
there's not too much else going on today, we had a long talk this morning about what we're actually going to be doing here, and it sounds awesome. we're going to be getting more specific later, but for training at least we're going to be learning tree identification and planting gardens to get used to growing in this climate. i love all of the trees here already, even the baobab, which is called the "drowned-rat" tree because the fruit looks like drowned rats hanging off the branches. but green drowned rats. it's crazy. and who doesn't love banana trees? also, i can't wait to see the mangroves. everything here is still so new to me, i can't believe we've been here such a short time. i've really lost my concept of time, because every day seems so long.
today i got stamps, so i should be sending some letters home soon. i haven't got all the addresses i need, partially because i haven't gotten any mail yet. so the Gambian mail may be moving a little slow. if any of you missed the memo, i can def. drop my address one more time. even though pretty soon i'll only be getting mail once a month, i'd always love some letters.
Casey Donahue, PCT
US Peace Corps
78 Kairaba Ave
Banjul, The Gambia
someone asked about the zip code, and the best answer was...there is only one Kairba Ave in the Gambia. they don't need a zip code. it's kind of like rhode island and the one area code, it makes sense but it still blows your mind. anyways, i have to study, just like college...goodnight.