Monday, March 21, 2011

A Toubab in Darou Khoudoss

"Toubab" means foreigner; everywhere I go a dozen little voices call out "Bonjour toubab! Toubab! Toubab!" and the brave ones dash up to shake my hand, shriek gleefully, and run away.

I spent the last week living with a host family in my training village, Darou Khoudoss, a little town of 4,000 built entirely on sand about a half hour north of Thiès. I live in a four-bedroom house with my host family; we have a nice little courtyard with a couple mango trees, a few banana trees, an orange tree and a lime tree. There's a faucet, so I don't have to pull water from a well, a squat toilet, a little room for bucket baths, and electricity most of the time. I have my own room with a bed, a white plastic lawn chair, a plastic floor mat, and the obligatory mosquito bed net. All things (including cockroaches) considered it's a pretty nice place, and everyone's been fantastically welcoming, supportive, and encouraging, so I've had a pretty good week.

My neene (host mother) Maladho and her husband Ibrahima have a 10-year-old daughter named Bineta, who adores me, constantly shows me off to her friends, and is trying to teach me to dance. My uncle Lamine (Maladho's younger brother) and his wife Amina have an 18-month-old, also named Amina. Petite Amina was very wary of me for the first couple days, but now follows me around, chattering away, trying to feed me little biscuits, and generally "helping" me with whatever I'm trying to do. My twenty-something cousin (Maladho's sister's son) Alfaa also lives with us - he was particularly excited when he found out I was from California, just like Tupac.

I am called Adama Diallo, after my host mother's mother, and I spend most of my time in Pullo Fuuta language class or sitting in the courtyard, pointing to things and asking what they are called, counting to ten, or playing games with my host sisters, who unfortunately only speak French and Wolof. There are two other Peace Corps Trainees in my town, and for our first Training Directed Activity we started a garden at the local elementary school, digging out and enriching a few beds for vegetables and setting up a little tree pepinière. The kids are really enthusiastic, which is great, because clearing four inches of sand off the entire garden surface area would have been miserable without fifteen eager helpers.

This afternoon I got my second rabies vaccination shot, so my left arm feels like an achy and leaden and I'm going to go hang out in the Disco Hut until dinnertime. Tomorrow I'll post the story of how I awkwarded my way into drinking hot Emergen-C with breakfast all week.

En bimmbi!

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