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Sunday, December 27, 2009

Christmas 2009 and IST

These are pictures from In Service Training (IST), which I helped run in Kombo. There are also pictures from Christmas, which I spent in Basse. Pictures from top to bottom are;
1. Eating Christmas dinner outside in Basse.
2. Anne at IST.
3. Evalyn, Steve, and I.
4. Muhamadou Bah.
5. Tanya leading a session.
6 and 7. The Neem Tree we cut down and decorated for Christmas.
8. Whitney, Melissa, Kane, and Katie.
9. Mike and I. Mike is unhappy about his gifts.
10. Katie and Lead watching the sun set.

MERRY CHRISTMAS AND HAPPY NEW YEAR! I have just returned from a one
week journey across The Gambia and back for Christmas. What an
adventure of a week it has been. It all begins on Monday, when I woke
at 5am and made my way to the Banjul ferry. I managed to get into a
car headed to Basse while on the ferry, which made the trip very
smooth. I was in Basse by 2pm, making what is normally a 12 hour trip
into an 8 hour one. NICE! I had just enough time to grab my bike and
ride the last 30 km to my site over the bumpiest and sandiest road
imaginable (picture the surface of mars, but with more rocks). My host
family was very happy to see me and one of my host mothers, Maimuna,
even hugged me (proof that I am instilling at least some kind of
behavioral change here). On Tuesday I went to school and helped give
out rewards and hand written grade report forms. My grade 9 class did
very well this term. I spent the evening checking on my garden, where
I found that the carrot, zucchini, tomatoes, and cucumber were
exploding with growth. I thinned out the beds and chased off a lamb
that was cheeky enough to dash into the open fence door and take two
bites off a cashew tree sapling. If all goes well I will be swimming
in vegetables soon. On Wednesday I rode to Fatoto to help my principle
enter some school information onto a computer (they're trying to
computerize school records ... despite the fact that there is no
consistent source of power in URR -sigh- ). I left a welcome note
for the new volunteer who will soon be coming to Fatoto. I will have a
new site mate, which I'm excited about. I spent the evening packing
for my journey to Kombo and tutoring Isatou, a woman who comes to my
hut to study English. On Thursday I rode my bike back to Basse where I
spent Christmas Eve and Christmas day with a few other volunteers. We
cut down a Neem tree, brought it inside, and decorated it with random
things that we had. I managed to hook up some lights that I had found
in Kombo to a car battery. We made egg nog (I had to buy 18 fresh eggs
from a Fula woman, who looked very happy about it). We also made Chili
and fruit salad. We went to midnight mass and then to bed. On Friday
we relaxed and watched "Love Actually." We ate crepes and admired our
tree. Saturday found me crammed into yet another car headed to Barra
and then on to Banjul. I had a smooth trip and made good time. I've
spent time on the beach and eaten out with lots of people here. My
parents and little brother will be coming to visit tomorrow evening.
I'm very excited, though it is going to be hard to impress Mom and Dad
after having lived in Africa for 14 years. I'll do my best. It's been
quite the week, but the next two weeks promise to be even more
exciting with my family here.

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