Peace Corps year 1

rain rain come and stay

The rainy season still hasn’t begun in earnest in my village. Rain here is so scattered that it can pour in Tamba and barely sprinkle on us, about seven kilometers away. Thursday night we had big puffy clouds overhead, lit on one side by the half-full moon and on the other by lightning from storms passing us on the north and east.

In Cory and Josh’s village, we watched a massive wall of clouds charge straight over us, bringing a cool wind but only a moderate amount of rain. But it sure looked impressive:

storm over village

The first rains set off a flurry of construction in the village—the new batiment in my compound is almost completed, and my family both repaired my hut roof and built a shade structure in my backyard.

And while there aren’t clouds of mosquitoes yet, the flies are out in force and, even more exciting, nasty things like gargantuan scorpions are appearing:

hand and huge scorpion

This guy was knocking around one night in Aissatu’s hut, next door to me. Aissatu pinned him down with a stick and Mamadou cut his stinger off before tying a string around his tail and hanging him, still alive, from a tree. He dangled there, trying to take swipes at passing livestock, until the kids finally knocked him down and killed him later that day.

I’m in Tamba for Cory’s birthday and a regional meeting, where things were exciting for the Peace Corps regional med officer, who happened to stop by and, while he missed Glen’s kidney stones, had to deal with both a case of breakthrough malaria and Bandi’s infected shoulder. As best we can tell, his giant oozing wound was caused by his rabies shot—a dirty needle or maybe just general incompetence. Yet another use for duct tape:

Bandi on operating table


Big Bird and Car Talk

While it’s nice to be removed from the 24 hour coverage of, say, the Michael Jackson case, there are some things impossible to ignore even from across an ocean:

Steep Cut Proposed for Public Broadcasting

Sign the petition at

Peace Corps year 1

spring has sprung wet sheep

Spent a few days in Dakar to pick Steven up at the airport, attend my first VAC (Volunteer Advisory Council) meeting (I’m the new Tamba rep), get the last of my vaccination shots, and take a mini-vacation at the beach. A good time was had by all. Now it’s back to the village and the start of the rainy season in earnest.

The day before I left the village last week, everyone was out in the fields plowing and even seeding the first of the millet fields. The rainy season is apparently really early this year; I’ve already seen one huge storm—two hours of gale-force wind, rave-worthy lightning and huge raindrops.

The morning after a rain the world smells like wet sheep. It’s blessedly cool until 10AM or so, when post-rain freshness turns to post-rain humidity. The guys are happy because they don’t have to get up at 5AM to pull water for the animals. Everyone else is happy because rain means greenery means the cows will start producing lots of milk again.

Seeing green is strange after months of dead grass and bare dirt. The slowly spreading carpet of sprouting grass is evocative of either the joy of spring or the onset of mold, depending on one’s mood.

As moldly as it/I may get, I’m excited about my first rainy season: I’ve got 34 kilos of seed, a 7,000 CFA spray bottle, and (hopefully) a newly repaired hut roof.