Tuesday, July 27, 2010

C'est pas juste

David, Adam, Tom, I am so sorry. Be strong guys. See you soon.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Tweet tweet

More doctors smoke Camels than any other cigarette!

I never liked twitter much but now I have a few people who I read there tweets from time to time so then i got my own. I know, too much technology, but twitter isn't that bad. I get to read what his shaqness has to say. Right?

If you wanna follow me on the tweets I'm ben_zucker

But really working at this office job in Dakar when there is so much to do and see in the outside world around me has been really good for shaping my goals. This is not the life I want to lead (I think) Tweet less, Kiss More is not a bad mantra. I wanna do real things, not advocate for their policies. I want to actually plant the fields, not write papers on nutritional security for migrants in West Africa.

One more tidbit about the Gambia, I am not much of a bird watcher fanatic, but I saw a ton of beautiful birds there that were tweeting at all times. Including a fat annoying rooster that would hoot and holler with no connection to sunrise, what the eff?

last friday i went to this guy named Fara for him to make me a bunch of saweet leather supplies. he is a real artist and his shop is awesome. like a week or so ago i went to Sandaga (the huge market in downtown Dakar) and went to a leather shop where they sell all different colors and styles and qualities of leather. i got some pretty good brown stuff and Fara said it was good quality and since he is a leather artist I feel like I chose well. I ended up buying a whole cow.

sorry about the lack of pictures but when i get back stateside ill make an album. i feel the end is near! im nervous/excited to go back to the land where everyone speaks my language

last weekend i went to the island of goree and had an amazing time with 7 of my closest friends here. beach time, exploring, un petit fete, la weekend tres bien passe. we stayed at this place called Auberge Firek, i really recommend anyone who is looking for a good time to stay there, its chill, nice, and especially fun when you have good company.

ok, off i go back into AMLD work land, one last week to finish up my projects. take care now

Friday, July 16, 2010

The Home Stretch

Major power outages have delayed this post, only a week and change left! (I am afraid to actually make the countdown, I love me some Africa)

The America countdown has begun. 15 days left and I will enjoy every one of them. I hope that I will be able to make it back here one day and there are tons of things that I will miss but Senegal has opened my eyes and my brain and thats all I can ask.

Last week I went to the Gambia. It was a great trip. The journey was long. I took a sept plas (station wagon car with 7 passengers and a driver) to the border and took cabs and a ferry till i got to some random spot on the side of the road. I arrived and stayed with this girl Maggi and this guy Jeff, they are peace corps volunteers and let me crash at their house in the city of Fajara (in Kombo, near Banjul). We went out, I explore town a little, pretty low key first night. I ended up getting seme delicious fresh honey from Jeff. Then i went to the village with a girl i had met in Dakar at a concert named Jessi. She was so amazing and we had an incredible time hanging out together. I honestly learned more about how to be a good person chilling with Jessi in her village for 3 days than i have in a long time. We played in a river and went to some meetings and i saw the school and the health clinic and the water pump situations and a beehive and tons of other places it was nice and green and relaxing to be sans electricity. Sidenote: Dakar in july has had really terrible electricity. Out for hours on end all week at work.

Back to the gambia. Staying with us in Jessi's village of Sibanor was this girl named Danielle. She is pretty great too and is an excellent cook. She, along with Jessi's homestay mom, gave me a cooking lesson. Sidenote: i am in the process of making a Senegalese/Gambian recipe book, stay tuned.
It was Danielles birthday on friday so we went back into town, i went shopping all day (gambia is like 1/3 the price of senegal), went to the beach, and then i made fried chicken wings for danielle's birthday. That night i stayed at this girl jasmine's house with Jessi and Jasmine and i went out to the club, Lebanese men bought me many drinks. je ne sais pas.
Went to an island the last day, and hiked for a few hours with all of my gear (mistake) and then took a septplas home. Gambia is more low-key, and different from Senegal in some ways (british vs french, small country vs w/e Senegal is etc.) but people and life is pretty similar all in all.

Now that its my last few weeks in Africa I am both freaking out that i didnt do everything cool and i am thinking of how awesome america is. i miss baseball and family and friends but i love the little things about here so much. the public transportation and delicious fish are up there on the things i will miss most. i hang out with Jenna a ton these days. Shes extra smart and wonderful in many ways.

The health project looked like it was going to revive itself magically (i had a good meeting) but now i think AMLD has bigger plans for the project and does not want me to try to make it happen really fast. Which is too bad, i was getting pumped for a few days. But its OK. I dont know.

I got a great postcard from Kate. Shes awesome. I also got an amazing package from Cammy, who knows how much I appreciate the art. And of course momma and poppa have sent me some awesome packages filled with american supplies. Thank you all so much.

Bissap is purple. Sugar is sweet. Senegalese livin is awesome. This trip has been a treat.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Ca va bien

Well well well! I havnt posted in a long time for a number of reasons but I will not get into them here. New blog style, no pictures because my computor officially died like 2 days ago.

I have moved into the new place which is awesome and i chill with my roommates luc, cody and matt. we just took in two hilarious new roommates guillome and bertrand. They are french and are brothers and bring the funk. Bertrand is a great guitarist and guillome is a gentleman and a scholar (and works for tostan).

Today my NGO put on a training (basically) on gender in the security sector (RSS, Inclusive security) with another NGO DCAF. There were like 25ish legislators from the senegalese senate and national assembly. to be honest i hate capacity building. it has lost all meaning. the conference was entirely in french and wolof so i understood only like 1/4 of what went on. it was at the old club med and we had a delicious lunch. people snapped at me to hand them packets and the microphone and stuff and i was majorly offended. but its ok because i have a beard now, wore a suit, and knew i have chilled more in my 21 years of life than any of those politicians ever have. im just kidding but seriously hopefully when i am a senator i will be nicer to foreign interns.

the makeup of the people at work has changed. adia and bety (secretary and finance lady) have left and now we have Jenna (urber smart new intern who makes me look bad from amerrica) and Ouley (from amerrica/senegal, shes senegalese and speaks like a billion languages including japanese). they were fun to hang with all day but we basically had to be quiet and listen to these politicians go on and on as they built this capacity building out of words.

oh yeah, i went scuba diving for the first time last weekend, it was awesome. i went down to this shipwreck and saw tons of awesome fish. everyone must try this.

ok, on to the future plans
i plan to try to commit myself to learning how to surf with my last month here. first lesson is tomorrow. wish me luck. ill try to do 10 lessons.
this weekend i am celebrating the independence of les etas unis like the rest of america. 4 of july baby, should be fun. we are having a party at Akon's house on Ngor island. Akon, you know, Konvikt? should be great we have fireworks and such (thank you peace corps) then, on the 4th, i will travel to the gambia for my long vacation. i am staying with this really nice and welcoming peace corps volunteer named jessi. i think i am going to stay in her village and then maybe travel around to the sites she says are cool. i dont really know. i am winging it sort of. if it is not fun i will come back to Dakar but i am sure it will be an amazing time. gambia is not too far (like 5 hours by car) and is a whole different experience (so im told). i am ready to explore a little outside of dakar, i think, and no better way to do it than to leave the country and MIGRATE.

how im feeling:
as the title of the post says "ca va bien" after 4 months in Senegal i have kind of hit a little bit of a rhythm and am very happy here. i bought a grill like a week ago and have been grilling a ton since then which is great. in the new house i cook a lot which is good for my mental well being. i made bagles again, also good for the sanity. i am excited for my adventure to the gambia, ready to learn how to surf, nervous that i am leaving africa and may never get to come back, ready to continue my existence here but i also miss the comforts and people of home as any normal person would. i miss the fam and the squad both at tulane and in the 301. I miss camp and the freaks from switzerland. I miss minnesota but most of all, i am glad to be here and ready to roll for the last 20% of my journey to senegal.

this was kind of rambling and long but i know some peoples must read this because i can see the hits keep coming. i will be back online after i return from the gambia, hopefully with stories and recipes and tons of other good stuff to share.

btw, about my computer, i spilled water on it my first week here, and now it finally fried. maybe it will work again back in america but for the forseeable future i will be skype and photo-less. sorry yall. peace OUT and i will post again when i get home. lataaa