Monday, March 28, 2011

A New World

Our first 2 weeks on site have been pretty great.  There is so much to say; I have filled up several pages of my journal each night it seems.  Because almost every day we discover something new about our family, village, or area.  I will try my best to convey what the past 2 weeks have been like for us, and apologize for the complete lack of organization (and perhaps too much detail) of which the following entries will most likely entail.  I want to say thanks for the emails, posts, and encouragement regarding the blog – it helps me find the time to write when I know people are enjoying reading about our experiences.
We are trying our best to take it slow and get to know the community before we start working on any projects as this is what the Peace Corps advises, but people in our village have expressed interest in many tasks so we have started a tree nursery at the school, a garden bed and 2 compost pits in the women’s garden. We also started an herb garden, tomatoes, and a compost pit in our backyard as well.  It feels great to have some things growing in the ground again, and they grow so fast here. Our herbs that we planted are basil, cilantro, oregano, and chives, and in the women’s garden we planted tomatoes, okra, cucumber, peppers, and egg plant – or as Gambians call it, garden egg.  
Having a bed in the womens garden is a daunting task for me because although I’m supposed to be teaching the women about gardening, I have all of 2 years experience gardening in my life, and not a single one in Africa -compared to the women here, who seemingly have had more gardens in their lifetime than I have in years!  Yoo, wo koleta (ok that is difficult!).  But I am coming to terms with the fact that yes my garden could fail, miserably.  But I am still hopeful about my garden techniques because I have seen some of the women spending lots of money on synthetic fertilizers and not using any compost or mulch, and others transplant their vegetables by yanking them out of their nursery beds – ouch! But again, I am trying to go slow, and concentrating hard on just observing and being there in the garden rather than trying to tell them how to do anything. I just show up every day, ready to water my bed and compost pits, help my host moms with theirs, and greet all the women. Because really it is a social time as well as work. And, it is beautiful there. Pictures soon to come for sure! Gardino ninyata (Garden is nice!).
 I’m working on trying to know our peoples names – another daunting task, as a common greeting here in the Gambia is calling out the person’s last name.  I am terrible with names; I think that I inherited it from both my parents (example, both my parents still call the ice cream store TCBY – TCYB, and when reading this will wonder if it is really called TCBY or if I am just kidding around – Love you Mom and Dad, but its true).  
But It doesn’t make it any easier when the villagers have names like ‘Hapu Buta’; I try to remember her by thinking her name is similar to happy birthday but then I just end up calling her Happy Buda and laughing at my ridiculousness.  It’s okay she’s about 7 and thinks it’s hilarious too.  And everyone knows our names for the most part, and we know about 10 people names (out of 300-400). Why can’t they have a village yearbook or something? ;)  Maybe that should be our 3 month challenge!

Our new house for 2 years! We'll get a better picture but our portion of the house is on the right side with the door open.

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