Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Baby Monkey was adopted.

you would think that being saved from the life of a typical Gambian cat-the beatings, the parasites, the hunger-would make him grateful. but no. despite the steady diet of fish and powder milk (and cheese if he's been particularly sweet lately), despite the petting, the protective flea collar, the baths, and the love, despite the fact that he has a perfect life, he still insists on waking me up at 5am. every morning. this is a new trend. he used to sleep through the night (and most of the day). but i guess since it's hot hot hot his nap schedule got rearranged and now "be really obnoxious and cry loudly until casey lets me out" happens from 5 until5:30 every morning, instead of the middle of the day when it used to happen. and yes, he has been reminded that he was adopted. it didn't help.
otherwise things have been pretty good. my cold is little more than a pesky cough now, and it actually has been cooler these last few days. i can breathe even at the hottest part of the day (through my mouth, but i'm still breathing). we're all getting geared up for the big festival this weekend, i'm actually getting excited. there's going to be so much music. i love watching the Senegalese dancers that are going to be coming, as well. they're just impressive people. i'm on the "hospitality" committee, which basically means they want me to keep the tourists attending happy. i think it should be a pretty manageable job, i just hope there are no drunken scenes. the soldiers are coming to help control the crowd, but i don't know how they will feel about disciplining tourists. which is where i come on. i'll use some of my american moxy to keep them in line. or just tell the soldiers not to worry, they're people just like the rest of us. last year the soldiers locked up all the overly intoxicated rastas, cut off their dreads, and made them work in their garden. i don't think they're allowed to go that far this year, but i hope the boys are thinking of their dreads and behave.
after the festival i'm headed back up north for a girl's leadership camp. it's pretty exciting. i can't wait to see girls from all over the country working together. it even involves a "bridge-building" activity. who doesn't love a well-placed metaphor? i'm doing the icebreakers, which is in my opinion the most important part. just kidding. but i think it could be the most fun. the girls are at a really fun age, so hopefully nobody will be too shy and we'll be able to get them to bond. i think they're all going to love it. after a week together, how could they not?
so i'm off to search for lunch

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

you better believe i'm tan.

against my best efforts (sunscreen, sleeves, hats, avoiding the sun) i am a toasty brown (at least for me, being so fair-skinned). people in my village joke that soon i will look like one of them, and be a lovely chocolate color. i'm not sure about that. i'm still holding back.also, due to the culture here (lenient muslim, i suppose) i am actually only tan from my mid-calves down, on my arms, and my face. the rest of me never sees the sun.
international women's day went reasonably well, we actually had to do our activities the day after because monday was commonwealth day also, which included traditional dress, girls with candy braided into their hair, and a parade. the parade went to the military camp, where the commander treated us to a speech about student-on-teacher violence and teenage pregnancy. in celebration of the commonwealth, i guess. it was a great day though, and there was dancing in the afternoon. "traditional dancing" here is fun to watch and imitate, but it's a little awkward because everyone wants to see what the white girl is going to do. yeesh. it's worth it, though, to see what everyone else does. they get really into it. i love how they try and one-up each other. it's all a dance-off.
today i went to most of the upper school classes to talk about a tree nursery competition the school is participating in. the teacher i am working with is a little overenthusiastic (a problem i prefer to the alternative) and is having trouble letting the students take control of the nursery. he really wants to win, i guess. i just want to make sure the students learn how to raise trees. i really like this competition because it gives me lots of chances to talk about how important trees are, something you can't do enough here. as it gets hotter, there are more and more bush fires in my area. we passed 4 on the way here. it's such a sad site, and there's no real fire department to take care of it. people lose their farms and homes all the time.
the solution is firebreaks, but people are reluctant to build those, and often do not get around to it until later in the hot season. i suppose bush fires have been going on so long here they are almost viewed as inevitable, the way people see floods and tornados. hopefully they can be educated and encouraged otherwise. it's a long process. i know people know about firebreaks, but getting them to make them is another story.
so i am busy busy, when i'm not working i'm sitting around complaining about how hot it is. it's getting hotter, and i feel completely justified in complaining simply because i'm doing it with gambians. if the host country nationals say it's too hot, it's too hot. it's nice to commiserate. my mandinka is far from advanced, but my weather-based complaints are excellent.
while we're on the topic, i've been making a list of things i thought needed to be refridgerated before i came here. here's a brief version
1)eggs (cooked or raw)
7)leftover food from meals

i can't believe people here don't have all sorts of bacterial infections. or maybe they do...
anyways, i have some emails to reply to. i've hooked up with this NGO that does some really great work, but the majority of people there have computers and want me to be keeping in touch with them via email. it's not an option for me, so i have to cram before each of our meetings. my brain is a little fried, but at least they get stuff done.
fo waati do (till another time)

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

this one's for the ladies

but fellas, listen close.
march 8th (monday)is international women's day. it even has it's own website: it's a little heavy.
i am planning on going to the basic cycle school and doing some activities with the girls there. then i want to go to the skills center and repeat. but i'm on the hunt for activities to do with them, if you know of any good ones, please call/email/facebook me with suggestions! i'm working with a student who is staying in my village, and the two of us want to really bring home the point that women can work and have a family, and of course that education is the key to everything. so let me know if you have any ideas!
right now we are going to have a discussion on setting goals and doing an activity called "pat on the back," where everyone stands in a circle and writes something nice about the person in front of them on their back. it's cute. but it's not enough.
otherwise, things here are good. it's been hot hot hot but not so bad today.