|Wow, this feels altogether like a different world-- I just got back from WAIST, the West African Invitational Softball Tournament. A place for Peace Corps volunteers from several West African countries, american ex-pats living in the region and even Japonese ex-pats and west africans working within the ex-pat community to get together and celebrate a great American tradition-- co-ed slow pitch softball. It was so strange-- we've been here so many months and all of a sudden we were dropped into this softball paradise with high school cheering sections, ball park hot dogs and a swimming pool. I even played my first softball game ever (I have a real future in this, I promise). Anyway, it was a great two days (especially the morning where Kari and I gave up the game and just had a few beers before heckling the other team on our way to a sweet victory)-- but in an eerie way I think for myself and for a lot of other volunteers it was the most homsick we had felt too-- just too much American-ness... families there with their kids watching the games during the day and then nights out to the bars that awkwardly resembled college nights ( you know; back when I was in college) Still definitely worth it|
For those of you who will appreciate this too... during the 4-day event there are a number of activities that Senegal Peace Corps volunteers host in order to raise funding and awareness of the gender and youth-oriented programs that volunteers host during the year at their respective sites. There are some great activities; including bike tours for girls, girls and boys clubs, scholarship programs for good students and lots more-- all of which takes a little bit of cash. So anyway, there is a silent auction we do where we try to offer products and services to the ex-pat community-- and I threw some tennis lessons on there.... so there have been a few bids, but it is more just my own selfish desire to finally play some tennis!!! (there are maybe 2 courts in the country)
We also just had a wonderful afternoon visiting our tech trainer in his home in Dakar-- he invited some of the people in the small business development program over for lunch during the tournament, and also so that we could meet his wife and two little girls... again I wish I could put photos up, it was fantastic. It is always overwhelming to see how the ex-pats live in Senegal-- the nicest parts of town and far removed from the center-- but our tech trainer welcomed us as Senegalese and as a Senegalese would-- it was maybe the first real glimpse of the city we have had
One more thing about all of this -- we have only been in Thies for a week, but I am already anxious to get back to site. There is something so real and comfortable about living with my Senegalese family, in my humble compound and working with the members of my community every day that is so much more satisfying than running around Dakar-- it really doesn-t even compare to the rest of the country.
Thanks for all your notes and emails, can't wait to hear more!!!