Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Things to look forward to...

Situated north of the Cap Vert Peninsula in Senegal, northeast of Dakar, Lake Retba, or as the French refer to it Lac Rose, is pinker than any milkshake you’ve ever come face to straw with. And once you see it, you too will agree that a sippy straw may be in order over a boat. Experts say the lake gives off its pink hue due to cyanobacteria, a harmless halophilic bacteria found in the water. If the color weren’t enough to make you smile, it should be known that Lake Retba has a high salt content, much like that of the Dead Sea, allowing people to float effortlessly in the massive pink water. In fact, Lake Retba has an almost one and a half times higher salt content than the Dead Sea. (via Pinterest -thanks Jo!)
There are some very beautiful places in Senegal, like Lake Retba, to see. This is on my list to visit if I can.
  • Simply getting on a plane-I love to travel and flying (anyplace)!!
  • Meeting the rest of my fellow volunteers, there is usually about 30 of us that go through first 3 months of training together before we go to our individual sites within the country. 
  • Meeting my host family & seeing Senegal for the first time. 
  • Fruit trees! So far I have heard of grapefruit, mango, coconut, orange, lemon, cashews, seetax, bananas, guavas, palm dates, papaya and boabob fruit. 
  • Senegal football (soccer to Americans) team the Lions of Teranga, are pretty darn good from what I hear. I am going to try to go to a semi-pro game while I am still in Minnesota and read up on them.
  • Shea Butter!! They make this from scratch and I am very interested to see the process along with weaving/textiles/basket making and anything else.
  • Having clothes and a big floppy hat made. I do know how to sew...but it's still fun to have things made for you!
  • Seeing the markets of course...I find markets in other countries wonderful and so vary interesting. 
  • Being able to carry everything I own, having less and doing laundry when I need to rather than weekly because it seems reasonable
  • Learning hectares, Celsius, pecks, bushels (and all other non-American measurements), do currency conversions in my head and haggle over things that are cheap enough but you do so out of respect. 
  • Reading a ton of books! I already read a lot, but I hope to get my reading list down to a manageable level and I also plan to keep a list of the books I read while abroad (I wonder how many I will get up to)

And not looking forward to (from what I've heard/read)  
 "I pull it off and watch the watery blood pour out of my would. Leeches have three jaws, and each jaw has ninety teeth that saw open the skin so the leech can secrete an anticoagulant that helps him/her ( they are hermaphrodites) suck blood. I have no idea how the little guy/girl got through the pants that were tucked into two pairs of overlapping socks and heavily sprayed with Deet. Although, he/she was a lot smaller when he/she started out." - Tales of a Female Nomad  
Needless to say I checked after reading this I wanted to know where leeches lived. 
  • I do know scorpions, snakes and other fun deathly stinging creatures do live there. So I will learn to live with them and the precautions to take living in such a place. This post from an expat living in Senegal about cultural normal (past and still present) are very interesting & helpful!!
  • No toilets (either latrine/hole in the floor) and taking buckets baths...this sounds worse than it is (my grandparent still had an outhouse). At least I have water and some sun to power solar panels for electronics, right?!? (see there is an upside to everything-and yes I know that that motto will not work for everything while I'm in Senegal)
  • Lack of quiet (this I hope to get used to and have noise canceling headphones in case I don't)
  • Unable to drive a motorcycle (it's for my own safety) but will be missing my Honda motorcycles for sure.
  • Missing friends, family and very unexpected things that I had no idea I would miss. 
I hope to make a once a month list while I'm there of things of good things & not so good things and see how it changes. I think about the one of the Buddhist four noble truths that says "Life is Pain" and idea that idea that instead of running from pain you learn to sit with it, be aware of it and self-improvement is the way away from the pain. There are plenty of things that right away will seem painful because of being in a new culture, but finding ways to deal, learn, or simply understand will help my tolerance as I'm sure my Senegalese counterparts will be thinking similar things of me.

Plan for the worst and expect the best, right???? 

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