Thursday, March 22, 2012

Back to Village

Things have calmed down now and we have settled back into our village.  Ben settled back into managing the bee project with Luis, and I was just approved for my library and resource project at the school.   We started working on it 2 days ago! 
Recently we helped Luis harvest a wild hive from Luis’s friends’ restaurant in the city.  We drove to the city, dismantled the hive, and the next day Ben and Luis took it back to his farm in a European bee box.  All three of us ‘got got’ (stung) but it was still fun and the bees are doing well at the farm.  It’s hard to explain why this is a crazy thing to do so I’m hoping the pictures will do a better job of it than I could.  Elma, Luis and Maria’s daughter, told us we looked like Ghostbusters.

Lots of bees!

Ben trying to smoke out the bees

Ben had a few meetings with the women’s tie and dye group. They are having trouble collecting money from people who paid on credit.  The money has been due for 2 months now so Ben had a meeting and explained that if they give back the fabric and allow others who can pay now to buy the fabric, then the kafoo will be able to do more jobs and at the end of the year would have more money.  They were surprisingly receptive to this idea. 
I have also been helping with our school garden and another school garden at a neighboring village with our sitemate Jessica.  I gave both schools seeds and instructions on how to plant an intensive moringa bed and made a small handout for one school to keep track of their produce.
Breaking ground (they all got stickers afterwards which they loved)

Also, we really appreciated all the care packages that came around January!  Thank you so much!  Miss you friends and family!

"Going up and down"

I like how Gambians talk about traveling or being busy.  Instead of saying you have traveled or went out they say ‘you have been going up and down’. And as I mentioned back in January we got to do some traveling.  We went to Dakar, Senegal for the West Africa International Softball Tournament (WAIST) and then flew to Tanzania to meet my parents for a safari.  Both Dakar and Tanzania were great, and all our travels went smooth.  WAIST was a lot of fun and felt like we were in America.  We hung out with lots of other Americans, ate fajitas, cheese, ice cream, nachos, hot dogs, played softball, went to a mall, and to an island with a nice beach.  I realize this list of food may not impress most people reading this, but to volunteers, it is what we dream of.  Dakar is West Africa’s biggest city and it has a lot of good restaurants, venues, and beaches.  We are excited to go back someday.

Tanzania was also fun and cold, which we really enjoyed.  We stayed in Dar El Salam for our first 2 days and enjoyed walking around the city, going to the Indian Ocean, and eating delicious street food.   The food was a lot of Indian food with different spices and curry than we are used to here in West Africa.  It was delicious and fun for us just to walk around and look at everything that is so completely different from Banjul.   From there we took a bus to Arusha where we met up with my parents.  From Arusha we took a 10 day safari! We took lots of pictures, and saw lots of animals!  It is definitely something anyone can and should do!  Our favorite thing was seeing the lioness with her cubs. 
Indian Ocean

Guided tour

one of our 'tented' lodges

top of the crater

Lion cubs!

Our ride

Maasi women

When we returned from Tanzania, my parents came back to Gambia with us and visited the Gambia coast and our village.  The village really enjoyed seeing my parents visit and ask us about them; likewise, my parents really enjoyed seeing our village and listening to us speak mandinka.  Right after my parents left, Ben flew to Georgia for Andrew and Sarah’s wedding.  Ben had a great time with the Turner family and came back with funny stories and lots of food from America!