i am in an internet cafe in Soma, a town about 10 k away from my training village. i will try and email as many of you as possible, but the google email server is very slow here. so if i don't get many fired off, just know i love you all and miss you too, of course.
things have changed so much since my last post! i have a new family, my host family, which has a whole different structure than any family i've had before. i have a father, who has 3 wives, and many children, most of whom have grown and moved, but many of their children still live in my compound in Kaiaf. my "small father," or my uncle (but still a father) also lives in our compound. he has two wives and so i also have many nieces and nephews running around. it is a very confusing family tree. more branches and less of a trunk.
but they are wonderful. they have named me Fatou Sanneh, which is a fairly common name here. there are 3 other Fatou Sannehs in my family alone, and at least a dozen scattered around Kaiaf (which has about 2,000 people). one of them is my niece, and she is less than a year. she is probably the cutest baby to ever have lived. she lets me hold her sometimes, but i suspect this is only because she wants to play with my hair. i have plenty of pictures of my whole host family which i will post as soon as i can.
i live in a luxurious 2-room hut, complete with a desk, chair, bed, and water filter. it is pretty swank. the well is a cool 10 minutes from my house, so i get to greet the whole village with a bucket on my head about every other day. i have 4 windows, 2 more than the average peace corps trainee. be jealous. i was coexisting peacefully with a very spastic lizard, but he has since moved out. i am relieved by this mostly because he really liked to sit on my screen door and dive-bomb my foot everytime i opened it. friends!
most days i have language lessons, and then visit (some work) in the garden. we have a pretty sweet little garden at the village school, and it is growing fairly well. we even built a scarecrow for it (it mostly makes the Gambians laugh, instead of scaring anything). we are attempting to grow squash, eggplant, tomatoes, carrots, and okra. so far squash is the best. when i am not in kaiaf, we have technical traning at a place called Tendaba, where european tourists come to birdwatch. i am learning about "advanced composting" and tree id. among other things, of course. very exciting stuff. they are teaching us how to use dilute urine as fertilizer. it is awesome. i hope that didn't disgust everyone. it helps plants grow...
but i am about to wrap this up with my BIG NEWS. this week we learned our permanent sites and i have gotten really lucky! i will be living on the southwestern coast. my hut is 15 minutes from the beach! i will be working on several different projects, including possibly collabrating with a URI professor and the WWF doing wildlife surveys (of turtles!).i am near a reptile farm so i may get to do some environmental ed, as well. i will not know exactly what i am doing for awhile but things are looking GOOD. i am so very excited to see my home for the next two years and stroll on down to the beach. i am also looking forward to many visitors...why not make your next beach vacation a Gambian one? come work on your tan!
i probably will not have interent again until late december or early january, so MERRY CHRISTMAS/ HAPPY HOLIDAYS everyone. i'll be thinking of you all. and maybe, next time i post, i will be a volunteer instead of a trainee.
keep your fingers crossed.