Hot season. A mid-service volunteer shared that he thought hot season was the best time to arrive at site because by that time, Ramadan has begun. He argued this makes life easy and allows time to settle in with the family as many are lying low during the afternoon heat. Ramadan is a period of about a month celebrated by those of Islamic faith when one is reminded of their bounty by going without. Through sacrificing food, water and in many cases one’s own saliva as well as pleasurable desires like cigarettes, one is honoring Muhammad and developing self-control. In my humble opinion hot season is an absolutely miserable time whereby 7 a.m. the sun begins to scorch the earth and sweat development is tangible from every pore.
While I fiercely respect those who endure Ramadan, I am overwhelmingly bewildered. This year I have elected not to participate, and I struggle – those who endure are much stronger than I. Simply because I would rather endure three rainy seasons than three hot seasons, I disagree with my counterpart’s point. I also have a different view on the amount of down time upon arrival. On one hand, its nice not to be held to a standard that others are not held to in turn, namely productivity. On the other, coming from a culture which insatiably pours over the exertion of work ethic, it has been an interesting transition.
Meh, whatever; my life is wonderful. While many are thinking about rent or next important meeting, I am halfway around the world from everything I knew dripping sweat, hoping the spider above my door frame doesn’t decide to jump on me and wouldn’t have it any other way.
I once met a man in an Ethiopian airport on his way to settle down in Malawi because “it feels more like home there than where I am from.” Taken aback at the time as to how this might be the case I happened to be on my way to Uganda where I would soon gain a hint of understanding. Almost three years later I too have moved to an African country, where in a little village to the far southeast, I too feel at home.
The rhythm of life is intimate here. Each morning I trot the same dirt path for a few hours work at my health post, greeting members of the community who either work along or frequent the route. If the Sunday market is on, I stroll through to chill with the community and visiting sellers. If not, I make my way home to escape the heat to study, design projects or play with my siblings under the mango tree.
Once the heat of the day begins to retreat Ill occasionally head to the market for cold hibiscus juice and greet people. If I have the energy to endure the heat Ill head into the jungle along a slightly treacherous path up to the waterfall where a majority of the village is likely to be found. At first blush it doesn’t seem like heading to a waterfall is a good use of time, but in fact it is surprisingly efficient. It is common for people in Senegal to be multilingual as the country is ethnically diverse and school is taught in French.
The village I serve also happens to play host to tourists, so those who speak English elect to help me with my projects or chat in the local tongue. In fact, I have been able to get two projects well underway from time spent lounging on the rocks. It is also fun to watch the reaction of tourists when I come up chatting away in Pulaar to locals then switch to French to greet them – until I find out they are from Spain; in which case I hope they either speak English or would rather swim.
On a call with a fellow volunteer I couldn’t help but gush about site and the happenings there. In discussing the contents of this post she said “you know what, this is your life and your blog and if all you want to do is share how stupid happy you are, you should share how stupid happy you are!”
To summarize, I love my life - I am stupid happy here.
The contents of this website are mine personally and do not reflect any position of the U.S. government or the Peace Corps.