Dread the days when you feel like doing nothing at all, and end up basting in a pool of your own sweat, admiring the tenacity of that film of moisture that perpetually clings to your skin no matter how many times you try to wipe or fan it away. (Ahh, if only all your work efforts possessed such tenacity.) Those days tend to multiply during the month of Ramadan, and you find yourself watching trees shiver in the distance as the heat warps the air, and sometimes your brain as well.
Coupled with personal family pandemonium, August did not leave Thiaba Diallo (that’s me, for the uninitiated) a happy camper. On the plus side, fasting proves to be a much simpler enterprise when you find yourself supine on a mat most of the day, preoccupied with answering long-distance phone calls (a frustrating enterprise when you are located in a village with phone reception that would make your average teenager cry) and lack the general chutzpah to utter inane phrases like “Allah is my boyfriend/husband” or assume my role as village comedienne to the inhabitants of Temeye-Thiago.
As such, I spent the majority of the month of August in a delirious haze of hunger, frustration, apathy and humidity, which only got compounded by increasing disappointment with the hospital gardener, the well at the women’s group garden not being deeper, an impending site visit from my program boss Massaly and USAID, plus girls’ camp preparations. Ultimately, I was compelled to buy an air ticket back to America to sort out aforementioned family matters. I had originally planned to head home to Singapore (the place where I was born and raised for the most part) in January, but this trip took unanticipated precedence. Expect me back on American soil come October 1st to 16th, where my time will be divided between New York City, Washington D.C. and Charlottesville, VA. Friends and family, I hope you will have the time and energy to meet up with me on such short notice! To my fellow Senegal PCVs, send me requests before October 10th and I will try my very best to fulfill your manifest desires. To my friends and family in Singapore, I am sad that the January trip will not be happening, but I hope to see you all again in 2013, inshallah, provided that the world does not end in 2012 with the impending Senegalese elections in February.
It has been 2 months since my last update, and while I doubt anybody has been mourning the information blackout, I apologize nonetheless (plus there’s always Facebook). Thankfully, September has proven to be much more fruitful and positive—the hospital is going through administrative changes, and talks are in the works about hiring a new gardener; a grant to fund deepening the women’s group garden well has been given verbal approval; Massaly and USAID’s site visit went smoothly; plus the girls’ camp was an unexpected success, and one of the highlights of my Peace Corps service to date. There is no doubt in my mind that the camp will be held again next year—some PCVs are even considering extending their service just to participate in next year’s camp. More details and photos of the past week will be put up on the camp website, http://campgemsabopp.wordpress.com in the near future, though I have no doubt that I will soon be waxing quixotic about the halcyon days of September when everything seemed to be going my way and where the grass for once, was actually greener on my side.
After 2 years of service, Peace Corps Volunteers from Latin America come back with a great love of dance and latin cuisine. Volunteers from Asia inherit a deep sense of spirituality and thought. Volunteers from Europe come back with a knowledge of alcohol and hospitality. Volunteers from Africa, head home laughing.
-Peace Corps anecdote