Sunday, February 6, 2011

One Month Mark - 2 Feb 2011

We are approaching our month mark in the Gambia and things are going really well. We are finally starting to feel adapted physically and mentally.  And we are enjoying getting to know our fellow trainees; everybody has great stories, I’ll have to write a post about some of our trainee friends and teachers!  Our training is coming along, we both received ‘novice medium’ on our first language tests so we are happy about that. Our schedule remains full and busy with language and culture classes; we have about 6 weeks left of training before we are officially sworn in as Peace Corps Volunteers! Training is good, but tiresome so we are excited to settle into our site.  Speaking of our site, we finally found out where we’ll be living the next 2 years!! A place where the bush is thick, the fish are plentiful, avocados flow like palm wine, and dolphins can be seen from the bank of the river – I’m talking about a little place called…… Foni, Gambia.
 All of these things we have heard about our site, there are even rumors of electricity – but I’m not holding my breath. The peace corps is its normal elusive self on our actual accommodations. All we know at this time is that we are being housed by a non-government organization (ngo) forestry group. We hope this means our house will be okay when we arrive; I expect….nothing but a good story.  We will find out what this entails on February 27 when we go on a site visit – survivor style. I say survivor style because we will not have had the opportunity to shop for our site yet.  So we will be staying in our site for 4 nights with no bed, no cooking utensils, etc! We are glad we brought sleeping pads and sleeping bags.
Our job descipitons include all of the following opportunities: bee keeping, working with the women's community garden, the NGO's community forest, Eco-tourism (there is an eco-lodge that ben will be working with most likely), soap making, and environmental education.  We probably won't have set, structured hours so that will be nice.  As of now, Ben really wants to pursue beekeeping and eco-tourism, and I would like to work with the womens garden, community forest, and environmental education.
A couple nights ago, all the trainees went to see a famous Gambian musician at a fundraiser a Volunteer held.  While the musician was great, the best part of the night was our fellow volunteer’s west African dance skills. We also experienced a televised football game. It showed us how average Gambians watch Television.  A man buys a generator, then a tv, than satellite. Then he fixes his home with benches made from ply wood and bidongs (bucket like items used for storing oil and water), and charges everyone 5 dalasi to enter and watch the program. It got pretty crowded!  I’m sure that will not be the last time we attend something like that.
Since we’ve been here a month, I thought I would make a list of our current Likes and Dislikes. It should be funny to see how these lists change throughout our time here.
Local fruit – currently oranges, lemons, bananas, grapefruit. Yum.
Local food – we watched our host brother kill a chicken last night for supper. It’s hard to get more free-range, all natural than that and it was delicious!
Trees -  they’re plentiful, pretty, and people use them for things.
Freely roaming farm animals: chickens, goats, donkeys, dogs, and sheep are everywhere!
The people are so nice!  
The Weather – right now, its almost perfect.
Mandenglish – example: Mapo, Penno, Post Officeoo. 
Safeway – it has tortilla chips and taco shells and ice cream. Amazing!!
Time (Gambian Maybe Time is alright with me)
Attaya – a special kind of tea, made a special way. Its fun to watch and makes us want to open up an Attaya shop when we come home! People sit and brew it for hours; it is really great – although the taste could use a little work.
Stars – the stars at night are big and bright
Donkey carts
Living by the seasons

Lack of variety in meals – also the lack of dairy products and adult beverages
Not having backyard hens – I didn’t realize how much we enjoyed our chicken eggs in Austin; they don’t keep chickens eggs here so they import eggs from Holland and they’re expensive (no, it makes no sense – they let the chickens roam free to eat them but not their eggs). When we get them, they’re boiled and taste old. Ew.  Life without chicken eggs is no fun!
Sickness – adapting to new food, new allergies, and a new climate takes time and has taken its toll on our immune systems.
Feeling privileged to be able to buy things like ice cream.
Snakes – we haven’t seen any, but we know they’re there and that is enough to dislike them!
Language beginners
Frequently comparing our lives to ‘Lord of the Flies’
The fact that I would pay over $100 for each of the following: Torchy’s tacos, Conans Pizza, and a hamburger.

We will be in the city area with access to internet for a whole week next month.... March 5 - March 13 after our training is over. If anyone wants to try to set up a time to skype, email us and let us know! We'd love to talk to ya'll! Thanks so much for the prayers and support!


  1. so exciting. love the likes and dislikes!

  2. Anna and Daniel MarrFebruary 11, 2011 at 10:03 PM

    I am glad Ben gets to do bee keeping and you get to do all things environmental. Miss you guys! Keep the posts coming!

  3. Wow $100 for a that's a craving. You can do it!