Dec 17, 2013

**note: I posted this on my Facebook the other day but I have better internet access now so I figured I’d add it here**

Hello from Guinea! I’ve meant to write sooner but internet access has been down due to technical issues. Additionally, there’s so much going on its hard to think where to start. I’m currently in Dubreka living with a host family, the Camara’s–Mom, Pop, Three brothers, and one sister. My Guinean name is M’mah Camara andmy 17 year old brother Mamady is my best friend — he shows me everything, teaches me French, susu, and laughs at my jokes. I absolutely love my family. They love to laugh and I love to make them laugh, so we get along well. The most common thing I hear here is “ayyyyy M’mah Camara” followed by knee slapping and laughter. The food is delicious – rice, sauce, sometimes spaghetti. Some volunteers are complaining, but my mom’s a good cook. My favorite sauce has coconut water, cassava leaf, pepper, peanut butter, onion, and bouillon. I helped my mom make it the other day! Which kind of turned into a photoshoot — pictures to come.
We eat a lot of fish. Probably more fish than I’ve eaten in my lifetime, but for now I haven’t grown tired of anything and find it all delicious. Lots of fried dough, too. And delicious frozen hibiscus juice.

Greetings here are of prime importance. I live about a 30 minute walk from the Peace Corps Bureau where all of our trainings are held. Every morning and evening the walk takes longer because I’m constantly stopping and asking everyone how they are, did they sleep well, is their family well??? If you could only see their faces when this white girl speaks to them in their local tongue. They love it. Quite a few petits on my route still shout “FOTE” or, my favorite, “foooOooOoooOoote” (which means white person or foreigner) but most people shout out M’mah. They tell me I’m a star here, which I thought was some weird French word I hadn’t learned yet but, no, it literally means star. In the celebrity sense. So life is going well! I’m definitely not short in the friend department.

Classes and training are fun. Lots and lots of French classes, but you would all be amazed to see how far along I’ve come in only 1.5 weeks. I feel confident ill be able to reach a passing level by the end of training in February. So far in technical training we have dug garden beds, planted vegetables (I’m growing corn, beans, okra, moringa, onion, and spinach), learned about small scale chicken farming, income generating activities, and food security. We also have a lot of cross-sector activities about health, malaria, and safety. We have also met a ton of other current volunteers and picked their brains for ideas about their site and more accurate representations of the ride we have just jumped on. We are so busy every day that I mostly don’t have time to think. I get home around 6, take a bucket bath, eat dinner, hang out with friends and family, and then sleep. There hasn’t been much time at all for decompression or philosophizing. I’ve had a few moments where I realize, Wow, I’m in Africa. I live here now. Im speaking two new languages. I’m very, very, far from the nearest WalMart. I’m really happy though. It’s beautiful here, albeit hot. The heat isn’t yet unbearable. It slightly worries me that this is the coldest time of the year but we’re taking it one day at a time. Be where your feet are! I have a great support system here – 32 other members of my stage. I honestly love them and feel very close to them even though it’s been such a short amount of time. We’re a weird, giggly bunch.

In 7 days (Christmas Eve) I will find out where my site will be!! I am tres excited to say the least. There are pros and cons for each placement so I’m not sure I have a preference. I really like Bass Coate (the region Dubreka is in) but that’s the only place I’ve been so I’m biased! I will find the positivity anywhere they put me.

We are going to Conakry for Christmas, which should be nice. American food, site announcement, air conditioning, and running water. Count me in!

That’s all for now. Thinking of you all! Send me letters!

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