Friday, April 16, 2010

wrap. it. up.

wrap it up is something i've been saying a lot lately, at least in my head. we're headed into our last day of all-vol, a conference where all the volunteers in the country get together and we have a big meeting where we talk about...policy. and policy. and policy. and sometimes people complain. about policy. it's a long, painful, nessecary process that can not be avoided but is absolutely exhausting. exhausting.
but it's the last day! by this afternoon, whether they're done or not, they have to wrap it up!! and then i'm finally free to go home for the first time in more than 2 weeks. actually, i'm going to Abuko nature reserve to help make a firebreak tomorrow-but after that i'm going home! it's more than time. i think my school probably thinks i've left the country. they had spring break for one of the weeks i was gone, so it won't seem AS long to them. but i want to make sure they're going full-tilt on their tree nursery. i'm one of the regional coordinators for the all-school tree nursery competition, so i have to work extra hard to make sure my school isn't slacking. i'm also trying to get them to plant more native species instead of invasives, and any tree other than a fruit trees, but even fruit trees absorb carbon so i can't complain.
and i just need to readjust to village life. there's been a lot of toilets, electricity, reliable phone service, and delicious western food in my life lately (they actually have Nutella here) and i'm headed back to rice, a pit, and flashlights. but i'm not really complaining. i'm just psyched to see my host family and ride my bike again. also, tourist season is winding down so i think i will be less and less confused with the tourists that come through my village because there's no one to confuse me with around.
this is not to say the last two weeks haven't been worth it. IST taught us some amazing things, and it was great to see everyone from my training group (and everyone in the country). i would have to say the major highlights of in-service training for me were 1) the demonstration glass hive and 2)advanced composting techniques. more on that later, i promise, but i'm offically obsessed. but i have to wrap this up because our transport is here. love ya, mean it.

Friday, April 9, 2010

hope you like the new pic

i thought this lovely picture of the beach was a little more "Gambia" than the old one (me in America making a face). i've spent the better part of the evening watching the internet come and go as i try and upload photos. so enjoy them, because they were quite an effort to get up on the old facebook. i named the album after my favorite Gambian joke. if you ask someone how they are doing, they will say "oh i am just managing." but one day (at a police checkpoint, of all places) the police officer, when he heard that we were managing, said "i guess we are all managers, because we are all managing." it made me giggle.
the festival was pretty great, some of MY favorite acts from around the region showed up. and the bumster-boss lady population was through the roof, which always makes for some excellent people-watching. it was some late nights though, and i'm glad it won't be back for a year. i need more sleep than that lifestyle requires.
but anyways, things are good here. we've had some in-service training going on, where we learn more intensive skills like bee-keeping (i've already got most of that covered, but it's nice to hear from someone other than my counterpart, i suppose) and tree-grafting. today we practiced on real trees. i don't know how well i did, but i do know that grafting trees feels like playing god. but you need a really, really sharp knife. we're also going to be doing some advanced composting (yay) and other gardening stuff. i'm pretty psyched to get back to site, of course. they keep giving us all these good ideas but i have to wait another week at least until i get back to try them. ay yi yi. in-service training itself is pretty exhausting, but it has been nice to see other volunteers for awhile. there's just something about being with someone who knows what it's like to be toubab-ed on daily basis that's just...therapeutic. also we've some really intense discussions about sustainability. it's something that comes up all the time here, and it's amazing how a small group of people working towards the same cause can have so many different opinions. but it's really important for us to keep talking about it, to keep that dialogue open, because otherwise who knows what we'd wind up doing. it reminds you why you're here and makes you re-think what you've done so far and what you want to do again. we've also been talking a lot about food security, which i'm sure you can imagine is a huge issue here. it goes really to every aspect of life here, you can't look at one issue plaguing this place without tracing it back to food security. so i guess it's good we're trying to focus more on that now.
speaking of food security, apparently it's socially acceptable now to post things on your blog that you want people to send you in care packages. i had no idea this was okay, but when in rome, you write your wishlist on your blog.

granola/luna/protein bars
peanut butter m&ms (the candy-coating keeps them from melting)
plain m&ms are also appreciated :)
sour punch straws ( i loove the strawberry ones)
any seeds you want to see if they can grow in a hot climate (apparently this is ok)
fun mix cds (or cds in general)
this is going to sound a little silly, but please remove all excess packaging (otherwise i have to deal with where to put my plastic waste, which is not easy) but put everything in ziplock bags. counter-intuitive, i know. but while i am okay with no excess wrappings, the rats and bugs that live both in the Peace Corps mailroom and the Banjul post office have other ideas. and they are not to be trifled with. anyways, don't worry about this list too much because if you take the time to send me a package i'll be so grateful to you that it could probably be a dirty sock and some sugar packets and i'd still be psyched. and i have a pretty barren backyard right now (baby monkey's a digger and chewer of most things green) but rainy seasons a'comin and i'd like to get some stuff planted out there so if you've got some seeds lying around and you've ever wondered how they would grow in africa, apparently there's no overregulation of what you can plant here. i know the volunteer before me tried for a pecan tree and it was too hot, but that's only the beginning. people have grown pomegrante here before, and pineapple (yummy) and all kinds of things. so send 'em on if you wanna know and i'll give you a full report. because my tomatoes and basil are doing great, but i'm looking to expand to other gardening endeavors.
and trees! i got so many seeds today, i can't wait to get some trees in the ground.
anyways, i'm around the internet for a hot minute, so i'll probably post again soon. check hourly!
or maybe every few days.