Site Visit!

So I’m writing from Boke, at the Peace Corps Regional House. I just left Koba, where I spent four days meeting people and checking things out. My counterpart is Mangue TP Sylla, this awesome old dude who is a super patron and is respected by the entire community. I was really busy during site visit — following Mangue around and meeting various people; imams, the halif, the staff at the National Agricultural School, the staff at the Seed Center of Koba, the staff at the Ag Research Center, and so, so, so many others. Koba is a beautiful city — a long stretch of 32km of paved, beautiful road sans pot holes. Houses and boutiques spread outwards from the main road but it is fairly linear in shape. To one side — rice fields and the Atlantic Ocean. To the other — acres and acres of palm plantations and gardens. Koba is spread up into different sectors; my house is officially in Koba-Basengue. The ocean port (fishing!!) is about 1.5 miles down the road, the lake is about ~15km the other direction. The lake has two sides — one for locals to swim, wash clothes, etc and another private area that is actually an expat resort where I sat with my sitemate and drank a (cold!) beer. Life is good in Koba! There are small boutiques near me where I can buy bread, eggs, peanuts, and small food items. I get my water from a foot pump a little ways down the road — I place my bidon on my bike and roll it home. It’s too far for me to walk it and I haven’t mastered the head technique yet.

Mangue TP is really excited for me to work in Koba. He is the president of the union of groupements (organized gardening societies) and has many contacts. During site visit I visited a garden of a groupement and also Mangue’s personal garden. Spent some time transplanting tomatoes and weeding.  I’m going to be biking a lot in Koba, which is good because a diet consistenting entirely of rice isn’t the best for weight loss. I probably biked 20 miles during the visit. I’m really happy with my site and can’t wait to get back and really move in. I’m replacing a Community Economic Development Volunteer, Chelsea, and she is leaving me with SO much stuff. I am eternally grateful to her! Just the fact that I am entering a house with buckets, containers, and mats — you all back at home don’t understand the importance!

Some funny tidbits of Koba life:

– I saw an old man wearing a “Legalize gay” shirt as I biked past the other day. That’s pretty funny because homosexuality is illegal here. Goodwill somehow makes it’s way here and you see all kinds of random t-shirts that at one point had an entirely different life in America.

– A muslim fete happened while I was at site. I was told we would head to the mosque at 8:00pm. I hadn’t eaten dinner but figured I’d eat when I got back — fatal. error. No one told me that for this fete you stay at the mosque all night, until the sun comes up. Imagine this: me sitting under a bamboo tent surrounded by my entire community, in the VIP section with my counterpart and his wife, susu/arab radio blaring, imams on the ground, and my stomach grumbling. And the funniest part is I enjoyed it all, even though I had no idea what was going on. It was a very cool experience and around 12:30am they introduced me to the whole town. I ended up leaving around 1:00am but it was good face time, and I made up for dinner by eating a huge breakfast in the morning.

So, yeah! I’m doing good — healthy and happy. I’m learning a ridiculous amount of susu, which is going to help me immensely at site because most of the people I will be working with on the farms and groupements don’t speak much French. The plan is to spend the weekend here in Boke with some other volunteers and then head back to Dubreka to finish PC training. Our swear-in date is February 7th and then I’ll be an official volunteer! Inshallah, everything will continue to go smoothly.

I think of you all back home often! Communication is hard here, but I will be going to Boke once a month and be able to access the internet. Love, hugs, kisses, and lots of snuggles to you all back home.




5 thoughts on “Site Visit!

  1. This is your buddy A.Rice at Nissan! Just wanted you to know that I’m following your great adventure! Sounds like your having fun. We’ll be waiting for you back in the USA to teach us all you’ve learned. Tell next time A.Rizzle!!!!! Stay outta trouble.

  2. Hey!

    I just sat down and read all your posts? Blogs? Im not sure of the proper terminology. Techie I am not! I have a new toy, don’t ask why because im very inept! I bought a Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 10.1″.I love, love, love what you have written so far! I will be living vicariously through your eyes and words while you are in Guinea. For that, thank you! With the detail you provide and my imagination I can see your life. Do you still have a host family? Do you have one in the village that you live in? How many children are there? Do they sell fair trade items? I would love to buy something that would help someone out! I apologize for all the questions but I am curious! I hope you are well and will be in touch soon!

    Much love!
    Patti Felts

    P.S. the snow and ice suck! TOO much of it.

    • Hi Patti, thanks for the kind words. I am so glad you’ve enjoyed what I’ve written! When I sit down to write, it’s hard to even know where to begin. So I appreciate the questions and I’ll try to paint a better picture.

      I just moved out of my host family in Dubreka. The family there was Mom, Dad, 17 yr old brother, 8 yr old brother, 4 yr old brother, and 10 yr old sister (who was actually the sister of my mom). It was a duplex and the other side of the house was Dad (MY dad’s older brother), Mom, 19 yr old daughter, 21 yr old son (a twin — the other one was never around much), 4 yr old sister, and a 24 yr old daughter and her 4 kids — 10 yr old daughter, 6 yr old son, 4 yr old daughter, 2 yr old daughter. Confusing, eh? Family structure here is inclusive. A man of a house here may support 10-15 people. It’s also legal here to have up to 4 wives — my counterpart at site has 3. So, we’ve got big families and lots of kids running around here.

      In my site, Koba (where I’m moving to Tuesday!!!), I am also living in a family compound. I haven’t quite figured out the family structure there yet, but there are people ranging from 2-60 yrs old.

      Fair trade items… there is amazing artwork here. I will definitely be able to make contacts and buy things for people during my service here. My PC salary is enough to live on here but by US standards I’m dirt poor. So, I haven’t bought much of things like that. I do plan on it before I leave. The other day I commissioned an artist to make a piece for me using paint and wax… eventually I’ll get a picture up of it!

      As for helping people out, when I’m several more months down the line of my service I will be calling on friends and family from home to help fund my projects.

      I hope that answered some of your questions. Please ask more!!!

  3. Thank you for getting back to me so soon! I’m guessing it will take longer for you to respond once you are at your site? 4 wives? Yikes, I have one husband and that is more than enough for me! I cant wait for you to get started! I will be glad to help you in any way I can! Take care sweetie and I look forward to hearing from you again!

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