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"The · darkest · thing · about · Africa · has · always · been · our · ignorance · of · it"


In a miraculous turn of events, the Basse internet cafe is actually…

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In a miraculous turn of events, the Basse internet cafe is actually working today! This is doubly miraculous, because a) I've been here at least five times this month, sometimes waiting up to 45 minutes, before finding out the internet doesn't feel like cooperating that day, and b) the Basse government powers-that-be have decided they can no longer afford the fuel that powers the generators that produce Basse's intermittent electricity. They have resolved the problem by randomly leaving sections of Basse powerless occasionally. Makes it hard to use a computer...

So anyway, I can't promise that my luck will hold out much longer, so I'll make this quick and give you the highlights of my life right now:

- I'm pretty sure I have worms. The faint-of-heart won't want to know how I know, so I'll skip that part. Let's just say I had to send some interesting "samples" to the PC med unit with the PC mailrun car on Sunday. PC screens and treats all that kind of stuff when you finish service anyway. I probably have schistostomiasis too, which is kinda fun because I remember discussing it as this rarely heard of disease in my college biology courses. I get to go home and be the person who's had every exotic disease ever. If I were a girl scout, I'd have earned my "weird disease" badge several times over. (No, such a badge does not actually exist, to my knowledge.)

- I shipped out half my belongings on mailrun to other volunteers in-country. I sold it all to make a few hundred bucks, which I'll put toward paying back Minty's shipping. So now my house is so empty it practically echoes. I can't help thinking though, that the wide open floor would be great for a dance party.

- I get picked up in a PC car on Monday! That's when I'll say my goodbyes to my host fam, probably crying so much that it'll scare the children and they won't want to hug me. Then Monday night will be in Basse for a farewell party, at which we'll make smoothies with the new PC Basse house blender. That is, if the government deigns to grant us electricity that night.

- By now, due to Gambian gossip circles (the only thing which outdoes the Peace Corps gossip circle), pretty much the entire country knows I shipped my dog to America. The image I've tried to convey is that I put him in a box and shipped him as luggage on top of the plane. (Ask any Gambian where luggage goes--on top of the vehicle!) I make sure to reiterate to them that I did not have to buy him a plane ticket because he's luggage, so no I will not buy you a ticket to America either. And no, he will not die in the box. Yes, I'm sure.

Despite having shipped Minty almost two months ago, most people seem to envision him still floating out in the middle of the Atlantic on a boat, being smuggled illegally into the US. They are shocked to hear he's already at my parents' house.

Just yesterday, my host father (who I swear I've told eight times already) gave me the "what?!? He entered there already??" To prove it (because he was clearly in doubt), I started regaling him with tales of Minty's new life. "So, I have this chair in America, right? [I don't know the Mandinka word for couch.] And it's my chair, but it's at my parents' house. And even I never let my dog on that chair! Even my America dog! But now, my parents call, and they tell me 'your dog sleeps on your chair', and I say 'bii lai wo lai tii lai'!" [That translates to some cross between "WHAT?!?!" and "Oh no you didn't!"]

Host fam: "He sleeps on your chair?!?!"

Me: "On my CHAIR!! Even here, I did not let him on my chair! And even my America dog, I did not allow her on my chair! I tell them 'no, I do not want dogs on my chair,' but they say, 'but he likes your chair TOO much--and he is sleeping.' Bii lai!!"

Host fam: "On your CHAIR?!?"

Me: "On my chair!"


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On March 24th, 2009 02:54 pm (UTC), (Anonymous) commented:
From Mom:
So after all these months of sending you things to make you more comfortable (sending America to Africa as your Dad puts it) this is the thanks we get -- encouraging your host family to think we're crazy!
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On March 24th, 2009 03:02 pm (UTC), (Anonymous) commented:
From Dad:
In 24 years, you've never accused us of being too lenient -- aren't we supposed to be able to spoil our grandchildren?!
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On March 25th, 2009 01:34 am (UTC), karne_asada commented:
lol I am going to make a badge in your honor. I am sorry to hear about your...um... infirmity. Yikes. Hope you feel better soon and your stool is back to normal! Also, I am working on phonetically learning the Mandinkan for "Oh no you didn't." I hope to have it down pat when you come back :)
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On March 25th, 2009 03:40 am (UTC), dancing_darling commented:
* dies laughing *
I love your parents. Both of them. See above.
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On March 28th, 2009 04:40 pm (UTC), (Anonymous) commented:
I loved this entry. You made me laugh...and I can just envision your poor dog, floating about the Atlantic in a crate on top of a boat. Glad it didn't happen that way.

Gwen
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On April 3rd, 2009 12:39 pm (UTC), (Anonymous) commented:
Too much! I love that. They used to say about Roland, "He likes mil-ik toooo much" I think they were saying milk, and I don't even know where they got that because I definitely did not feed Roland milk. When you get back to the America we'll have to let Minty and Roland see each other. I know they never met in The Gambia, but they'll know they are from the same place, the good 'ole URD. I hope you enjoy your last few days, even though they are Gambian holidays. Have a safe trip back. I would suggest not going to the grocery store for a few weeks. There are way too many choices. It'll blow your mind.
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On April 3rd, 2009 01:58 pm (UTC), safaribeth replied:
(For those reading this who don't know who Roland is, the above message was posted by the awesome Susie, who used to live about a 2.5 hour bike ride west of me. She took Roland, then a bat-eared puppy, with her when she went back to the States February 2008.)
Anyway, Susie:
They DO say "mil-ik" when they try to speak English! Funny. Matt Storer's dog Rhythm is in the US (Vermont, I think) now too, so we can have a play-date. Both Bear and Willy's owners, sadly enough, did not take their dogs to the States as promised. Willy's still roaming the URR, and even lived with me for a couple weeks after I shipped Minty off. Willy followed a new volunteer all the way from Kuraw to Basse last week--even swam across the river with three legs (his bum leg worn out from the run). He nearly drowned.
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