Friday, April 13, 2012

Hello Banjul!

We (18 trainees and various Peace Corps volunteers and staff) began the drive from Thies, Senegal to Banjul, The Gambia on Wednesday morning at 6 AM (I don't know how this miracle of punctuality occured- It was actually 5:57 when we left). Our embarassingly large convoy consisted of 2 buses, a trucks full of baggage and a Land Cruiser. We all arrived in Banjul at around 5pm. The trip was OK (except for fellow trainees who felt ill the whole day) and we even had enough CFA left (Senegalese currency) to buy a few snacks along the way and share them amongst ourselves. Including some excellent egg sandwiches with hot pepper sauce.

Many people in our group will agree, that although we really miss the trainees from Senegal who we've lived and learned with for the past month and a half, we are really excited to be in The Gambia! It is excellent so far - the beach is very nice, the Banjul transit house is deluxe (there's a fridge and a shower!), there are about 7 bookcases filled with books for volunteers and most signs here are in English as opposed to French. This last point is significant considering that we spent the previous month guessing what things said along the street (and what people said). Community members here keep greeting us in English and we find ourselves surprised and confused, like it's all a dream.

Last evening we were invited by a Peace Corps employee to a cultural event with drumming and dancing. Here are a couple of photos from the event:

Mystical Dancers

Samantha and Colette with dancers

Tomorrow morning we head to our training village to stay with host families and continue practicing the Mandinka language. We'll only be with them for about 2 weeks, but hopefully we can learn a lot and enjoy our time there. Everyone keeps emphasizing that training villages are different here than what we experienced in Senegal  - they are smaller, more rural and do not have electricity. They also involve having our own pit latrine, whereas in Senegal it was very much the norm for Peace Corps trainees to share one pit latrine and one bathing area with upwards of at least 25 people. We also get our own bicycles to visit other trainees when we have free time. We are going to feel very spoiled in this respect!

Until next time...

~ Colette & Darrin  (Maamaa & Kawsu) ~

The road through our eventual home of Bwiam

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