I recently went on trek for a week to check on projects and help develop some new sites for new volunteers. Myself and Seth went along. He brought his nice SLR camera and we both took lots of pictures with it.
Me in the middle of a village
This trek we did a lot of Mango grafting. We helped a couple PCVs with improving their varieties of Mangos. It is the end of the rainy season.
We stopped at Mikela’s site for a few hours. It was too hot to graft so we took a break and enjoyed lunch.
Most of the Staple Crops are being Harvested and one in particular that I love it sugarcane
This is a mural that she painted with her family and used their hands as hair. Yes, she has a cactus in her compound; It is the only cactus that I know of in The Gambia.
Her counterparts love Obama and chicks. This is a project she is working on with them to improve food security. Mikela got in some grafting practice. Our trek was a week before Tobaski so our drive found a nice ram and a good price so he bought it. I had to test its strength and make sure it was securely tied to the top of the vehicle. The other picture is of another ram being transported. Yes, the ram is alive.
We stopped by Sumner’s site and did some more grafting. He is also doing a poultry project and has some of the largest chickens I have ever seen in this country.
One of the last sites we stopped at the village leader told me that I was the “Leader of beards.” He wanted a picture with me so he called me over along with this young girl to lift up his feet. The picture was little awkward but it worked out.
The Leader of the Beards and the followers
Nate is a PCV, his compound has a monkey and has been featured on my blog before but BOBO the monkey is always a favorite. He now helps groom Nate and wrestles with small children after lunch. Recently Nate texted me and told me that BOBO got loose the other night and they kept hearing children screaming throughout the village because BOBO would attack them and want to wrestle with them. Eventually BOBO was caught and tied back up to his tree.
It has been a while, I think so much of what I experience here now is normal and not out of the ordinary for me that I don’t think other people would care.It could be also that other people just wouldn’t care anyways so it doesn’t matter what I put here.
I have found a new tailor and we have built a great relationship, he knows what I like and he does a great job.He is very fast and reliable.Many service providers here will give you a finish date for a product or service that is at a time they believe will make you happy but it will be completely unattainable for them to reach.When the date passes and you ask them where your product or service is they will tell you “tomorrow” and then when tomorrow comes they will tell you “tomorrow” again.With Yonkuba when you ask him “when will my shirts be finished?” he may tell you “I am not busy in 3 days” or “I am very busy next Friday”.This is what I have come to appreciate about him; I don’t care if it takes a month as long as I know ahead of time it will take that long.For this service and honesty comes a price which is more than some tailors but I am willing to pay for the service.
This is some cotton plaid fabric I purchased a year ago in Senegal.I did get matching shirt and shorts made and yes I wore this in public.This is probably the only place I could wear this and actually get compliments on how nice I look.In America people would ask me if I am aware it’s not Halloween for another month.
This fabric is from Guinea Conakry.It is hand dyed with indigo dye.
The last picture is me in a meeting, in which I do a lot of now.
My first visitors from the mother land came to visit this past week.I dropped them off at the airport and watched them walk through the door to the gate after going through security and they didn’t show up at my house so I am assuming they made it home.
My brother and his wife came to visit.They spent the first day and a half relaxing at my house, the beach and the Peace Corps office.We went to my favorite dinner spot and met a couple of other volunteers.
Brother and I at the beach
We got up Wednesday morning and packed up and headed to my old village.I had to stop by the market and pick up some food to take to my family to cook for the time we would be there.The option was to leave them in the car garage to be harassed or take them along.I took them along and it was one of the busiest days I have ever seen in the market.They were troopers and dealt with it well.Afterwards I told him that there are volunteers that refuse to run the gauntlet of markets like they did so that was good.It was a great time they realized that there are more potholes filled with water than there is actual road on the way to my village.
Howa and I
We arrived in early afternoon to hunger and no food cooked for us as it being Ramadan.So I went to finding food.This meant me telling my host brothers to bring us, fresh Guava, Mangos and some Cashew nuts to go cook.After doing all of that it was just resting and meeting my family.
There was a lot of wide eyes from my visitors and a lot of the same things they were thinking and seeing for the first time was similar to my thoughts and sights a couple of years ago the first time I stepped in to my compound.
Nicole with some women
Small kids taking care of babies
We walked around the village and met a lot of people and took lots of pictures.The final day in village we had my host father arrange everyone for a large family portrait.
We came back to the city Friday afternoon and just relaxed.Saturday we got up and went to the tourist craft market in Bakou for Nicole to buy some souvenirs to take back with her.We then went to the fish market bought some fish and had a big family dinner with fish and chips, tartar sauce, cole slaw, fresh fruit and good company.
Sunday we just sat around packed and relaxed.Overall it was a great trip and was real grateful and excited to have visitors
I received some more pictures from a buddy this weekend and figured I would share them.This is from the first semifinal game that took place Saturday evening.The team in the white and blue ended up winning.
I referee; I have gained so much respect for referees in the past 6 months.It’s not easy these are men with college bodies, basketball fundamentals of a high school JV team, the pace is fast and it took a while to get used to it and get in a groove since I refereed little kids when I was in high school.Its great experience and I enjoy it and it’s something that I want to try and do when I go back to the states.My friend that was a basketball ref in the states says this is tougher than high school in the states to ref.
Dealing with a coach
Some of the things here that are different is the lack of knowledge of rules and the simple fact that refs have no respect, coaches and players are riding you all the time and every call seems like a battle, especially now since it is playoff time. The fans are nothing like the fans in the states, they don’t really cheer or clap or complain its relatively quiet during the games unlike in America.
I just tell myself that I am helping these men develop their skills and that this is a great opportunity.If you would have asked me before I left is I would be a basketball referee for a national basketball league in West Africa I would laugh at you, but now I love it and thoroughly enjoy it.
I mentioned in my last post about basketball and The Gambia.It took me awhile but I have some pictures from the international friendly with Mauritania.I also have some pictures of the Gambian cheerleaders who throw candy into the crowd at the end of their performances.
Mauritania warming up
Both teams warming up
Gambia in the huddle
I also included some pictures from our basketball training from last weekend.