Peace Corps year 2

fun even when it's not!

This past week I had a really great visit from George and Doug, who were looking for a break from the clean, well-ordered world of Silicon Valley.

It was a quick visit—made quicker by their 34 hour delay in Brussels—but we managed to pack in a party in Tamba, wedding festivities in the village, a day in Niokolo Koba, a stop by Cory and Josh’s site, a Tex-Mex dinner imported from the States, and pizza in Dakar.

They made it very easy to be a host, keeping cheery attitudes despite the fact that the itinerary was inadvertently expanded to include a nighttime stop on the roadside when our truck ran out of gas, a 4am trip to the hospital at the request of George’s stomach, a ride through a rainstorm in an Alham without windshield wipers, and vomiting episodes for both me and Doug (we blame the elk jerky).

I’m sure Doug will post photos long before I manage to upload all of mine, but here’s one of us in the national park:

us on top of 4x4

Peace Corps year 2

'ET' = 'Too Early,' bass-ackward

I, along with all of the PC Senegal volunteers, are very sorry to be saying goodbye to Gretchen, who will be officially terminating her service at the end of this week.

Gretchen was an agroforestry volunteer at a site where trees don’t grow and the lone female volunteer in an area where Peace Corps only sends men. She weathered the death of her village mom, caring for orphaned triplets, the loss of multiple pets, a flooded pepiniere, a broken foot, sand storms and 120° heat, and had just returned to Senegal from her grandmother’s funeral.

Gretchen had ample reason to ET over the past twenty-one months, but she stuck it out because of her dedication to why she came here and to the work that she was accomplishing. She has our respect for that, and our best wishes for the future, as well.

Peace Corps year 2

senegal in the news

In lieu of original content, I’m giving you two articles on Senegal that both appeared in the last week. I rarely get around to checking online news sources anymore, mostly due to a lack of internet time, but wouldn’t you know that when I finally do, Senegal pops up everywhere I look. has an article on talibes, who are apparently being smuggled into Dakar. These are the kids who are ostensibly learning the Koran but seem instead to spend all their time wandering the streets with old tomato paste cans, begging for money and food.

The New York Times reported today on the continuing flow of migrants from West Africa to Europe. Would-be immigrants have apparently had to change their route from Morocco to the Canary Islands after Morocco stepped up efforts to prevent migrants from reaching Spanish territory.

Peace Corps year 2

doom… kaboom!

The first storm of the season slams into the village as a wall of wind and dust that turns the world apocalyptic orange. Everyone runs for cover—people into the batiment and animals to the leeward side of huts. Huge, cold raindrops start slowly but soon become a torrent. The storm brings a ten degree temperature drop and a wet, woodsy smell that lingers through the next day.

(It also drives great masses of earwigs out of the poles of my hut roof, from where they drop down and get into everything… but I choose instead to focus on the awe of the storms and the magic of all the things—bright green sprouts, crumbly termite towers, velvety red bugs—that emerge from the wet soil.)

orange world


raindrops on thatch

termite towers

red bugs

beginnings of pond

Peace Corps year 2

clouds of DOOOOOM!

Behold! I bring you animals:


Yet more Uno:


Rain clouds:

storm clouds!

And a cliffhanger, filled with foreboding, in which you will tremble at the approaching storm clouds… of DOOOOOM!!:

storm clouds OF DOOM!