Back to the real world after slightly over two weeks in village! I was just on the verge of going a little loopy at the two week mark, but luckily I'm now at my regional house in Linguere. It feels amazing to have an internet connection, a fridge, cell reception and PACKAGES! Let me start off by saying a huuuuuge thank you to Michael & Mary Jean and Pat & Dawn for the absolutely amazing packages! They were greatly, greatly, greatly appreciated.
Village life has been much of the same as before... lots of amusing language mistakes (at one point a man asked my friend Jenn how old she was and she responded "ten horses"), attempts to begin actual work (I've learned that growing cucumbers in the desert is surprisingly easy, but keeping goats out of the garden is not), and many more ridiculous moments when I wish a camera crew was behind me recording everything.
Some examples... Jenn and I watched a doctor stitch up a man's toe with clothing thread. I've been learning insults (like "you're so ugly you look like a hyena,") and it's now quite common in village for people to scream out to me to insult them. And this morning at the regional house, one of our dogs brought in a live hedgehog (which we thought was dead) and proceeded to throw it at all of us as we screamed and hopped around like our feet were on fire. Just average, normal days in the life of an American in Senegal.
Also, another new item to report... it's beginning to cool down here and it's very slowly creeping into rainy season. Which means... SCORPIONS! I've never been really afraid of any bugs but scorpions just freak me out. And we don't just get your standard scorpions in Mbeuleukhe; we also get horse scorpions (below's a photo stolen from my friend Justin's blog- don't let their small size deceive you, they're scary). I was visiting Jenn one night helping her water her garden and one literally charged at us, ready to attack. We freaked the eff out. Her family ran out to us to see why we were screaming and, naturally, assumed that we'd seen a frog. When we told them that it was a horse scorpion that was causing us to freak out they cracked up. The standard Senegalese response (and you can really ask anyone and get this verbatim) is: "Oh, they don't do anything. Don't be afraid of them. When they sting you it hurts really bad. You'll cry." These people aren't scared of the horse scorpions and laugh at us when we scream, but had we said that it was a frog that we were yelling about that would have been perfectly acceptable. Because, after all, frogs are dangerous and sneaky characters.
Now that I'm done my scorpion rant, here's what I'll be up to now that I'm out of village... currently I'm in Linguere for two nights getting myself a little organized and caught up on the important stuff going on in the world- like learning that Snooki was recently in a car accident in Italy (thanks to Cait Mac for informing me about that). Then on July 1st my friends and I are heading down to Kedougou, one of the other regions of Senegal, for a big 4th of July party! It's my first time traveling for pleasure here and I'm so ready for a little R&R.
I'm also pysched because Kedougou (down at the bottom in red) is supposed to be beautiful, complete with waterfalls and warthog sandwiches. I live in region Louga (green, north) and the trip is kind of far, so I think that we might end up spending the night at the regional house in Tambacounda too. I'm excited to check out more of the country... especially since my region very closely resembles a big sandbox with thorns.
I will admit that I'm a little sad because 4th of July is my favorite holiday and I've never missed the annual Cape May Point bike parade before. Those of you who've never been to this historic and celebrated event cannot understand the pain I've been feeling thinking about this. I've been mentally preparing myself that come the morning of the 4th I will not be getting out my streamers and ribbon to decorate my bike and get to listen to the age-old argument of who will get to ride the double-bike this year. I guess I'll just have to suck it up and enjoy the waterfalls in Africa. It's a sad, sad life I lead. But seriously, I'll be thinking of everyone in CMP on the 4th! Shout out to the CMP Pattons, my blonde sister Taylor, all of the Glassboro frisbee fam and all of our other friends and family that I always celebrate the 4th with. Have some rainbow water ice and think of me.
And before I leave, two final notes of business: First, I am now the proud owner of a new camera thanks to my thoughtful parents who must really want me to finally start taking pictures. So, get ready for pictures, people! If all goes according to plan I should put up a new post next week on my way back up north to village.
Secondly, I'd like to use this blog to publically campaign for my brother, James Patton Patton Patton, to reactivate his Facebook. I respect his decision to take a break from technology and go against the grain... but seriously... when your only sibling is away in Africa, and you're notoriously bad about checking your e-mail, and you lose your cell phone at least once every three months... isn't it just easier for everyone if you have a Facebook? The world needs to see what James is doing, and I for one miss being able to share precious brother-sister bonding via a social networking website. That's my position and I'm sticking to it.
Happy 4th of July everyone!