I have been here a while, as I sit here relaxing having just finished making and consuming my now world famous gut bomb skillet; it made me stop and think about the last year and where I came from to where I am now and what I have accomplished. I came into Peace Corps with low expectations I told everyone that if I can make one person’s life a little easier than I have succeeded. I accomplished my goal early on in my service. I figure everything else I do is just a bonus. Some people here don’t want your help or they will stop and listen or see what you are doing and continue to do things the same way as their grandparents and parents did things because that’s the only way they know how. I don’t know if it is fear, lack of critical thinking or just plain “I don’t want to listen to this white stranger.” Either way its fine with me, I believe and know I can’t change the whole country and fix all the problems that are in this country but if I can continue to improve a few people’s lives and make it easier than I am happy.
I remember after that long 30 some odd hour flight from Chicago to Banjul via Brussels finally arriving at the airport and being so excited and then walking off the airplane and wondering why the engine exhaust was being funneled so close to where we were walking out of the airplane but then I realized quickly this is the glorious weather of West Africa. I remember telling people that work for Peace Corps here in The Gambia that “I’ll never be cold here,” well, over the past month or so I have either wore pants, long sleeve shirts or hoody sweatshirt with socks either in the morning or at night nearly every day. I can’t believe it, it’s in the 70’s and I’m cold. Just today I wore a local scarf around my head walking to a meeting we had, I wore it all day. I told a friend I was with “I can’t believe I am wearing a scarf in Africa.” I don’t know how hot it was but right now at 8pm it’s in the 90’s and I don’t feel hot. It is amazing how your body becomes acclimated to your surroundings.
Over the last year I have had highs and lows, been so sick that I wanted to come home and been so hot trying to sleep wondering how people sleep in the heat. On the other side I have had some wonderful moments. I feel like have been adopted into a second family. I have a couple teenage sisters that are surprisingly a lot like teenage girls in America and sometimes I just stop and laugh at the eerie similarities. I have a couple small toddlers that every time I get off the bush taxi at my house they scream “Forday naata, Forday naata,” which translates to Forday is here Forday is here. As they are running towards me with their arms out and then come crashing into my legs and try and carry whatever bag or box I am carrying, even if it is 50lbs.
Overall, I am happy here I have finally settled in and loving it.