Sunday, August 10, 2008

Full Update...Finally!

I know I’ve promising to update you for a while, and now I am finally following through. I’ll try to keep it kind of short, so I don’t bore you. I promise pictures will be up by the beginning of September. It’s just that the internet is so slow when all the other trainees try to do it, that I don’t have the patience. Stories will have to tide you all over until then.

Site Visit

First things first….my permanent site is in Kiffa. On a unrelated note, on the drive out, we passed a bunch of herds of camels, and had those “Oh my gosh…I really live in Africa” moments. Kiffa is a regional capital towards the eastern side of the country. I like it a lot. There is one volunteer already there, and five of us just starting, plus another 6 who will be at other sites in our region. I actually have a work partner, Eric. We are both doing Girls Education and Empowerment, so I’m really excited about the amount of work we can get done together. The city itself is pretty big, and is on the road from Mali, which means we get a lot of cool products that pass through to be exported out of the Mauritanian capital.

Though it is a big city, it is much cleaner and prettier than Rosso, where I am doing training. With about a half hour walk, I can be out in the dunes, and during our site visit we went out there. I’ll give you more information about Kiffa once I officially move in the first week of September (it will be Ramadan, when most people don’t work, so I’m sure I’ll be bored and e-mailing more than usual).

Home Stay

My home stay is still going well, although I’m getting antsy to live on my own, and especially cook for myself. Here are just a few more of those fun stories about the ridiculousness that is my life here.

Sickness…. So all Peace Corps volunteers get sick. It’s a generally accepted fact that during your first few months you will get sick quite frequently. I was very lucky my first month, and was generally pretty healthy, but we all knew that I probably had some terrible illness coming my way to make up for my good fortune. When I got back from site visit, I finally got the dreaded illness, which is basically generic stomach problems and a raging fever (don’t worry, the story ends well, and I am currently healthy). I’ll spare you the details of the illness itself, but I thought you’d all enjoy knowing the things my family here tried to give me to make me feel better. They are, in order (remember, I was already feeling incredibly nauseous):

  1. Sour milk with corn
  2. Dairy products of all kinds
  3. Spicy food
  4. Lemons

It was the first time I refused food they offered me, but I had to do it. No sour milk and corn in this toubab’s system!

Stars…I tend to spend a lot of time looking at the stars at night. There aren’t any street lights, or much light at all for that matter, so they’re really bright and beautiful. Sometimes my sister star gazes with me, and she told me she is the only person in Africa is likes looking at stars, though I’m pretty sure this isn’t true. That actually has nothing to do with the story.

Anyway, on one particularly good stargazing night, I mentioned to my host mom how beautiful the stars were. She replied by saying (remember, I now live in an Islamic republic with a fairly pious family)

“God gave us these stars” Okay, I guess I can be on board with that.

“And all He was in return is that we are pure of heart…” Seems reasonable

“That we don’t lie” Fair enough. Maybe we finally understand each other…

“And that we pray five times a day. That is the most important!” Oh, so close!

That’s all for now. I’ll be responding to all of your e-mails within the next week. I promise!!! I hope to hear from the rest of you. Also, in Kiffa, I’ll have pretty regular internet access, and will probably be able to use Skype, so e-mail me your Skype name and we can try and set up some time to chat.

Miss you all!

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