Thursday, September 30, 2010

It’s Raining…Men

Today’s rain storm came on so suddenly, swiftly, and powerfully, I was inspired to take a shower in it. So my brothers and I ran into what most sane people run away from to have the closest thing to a nice cold, running water shower after being ridiculously sweaty while sitting all day in the humidity, praying for the rain to cool things down.

It was honestly the cleanest I’ve felt at site ever.

Byron Yee
Peace Corps Volunteer - Senegal, 2009

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Let's Build a Mosque!

I doubt it had an exclamation point when my dad announced yet another community work day to build our local mosque....But, fun updates:

1. This will eventually become a Grand Mosque, the biggest one in all of Karang. Appropriately it will be located at the origins of our town. They also said it should be finished before I leave.

2. This work day was much more exciting as it involved cementing the rooftop. Realize that all building work in Senegal is DONE BY HAND. I'm a little more sympathetic of the guys that worked on Notre Dame now. Today was a lot of fun and I had a great time. I was also excited to get involved in some community service (because clearly my entire Peace Corps Service isn't quite enough).

Hey! Have you ever caught a flying bucket filled with cement and gravel with one hand while standing 15cm from the edge of a mosque wearing flip-flops?! The OSHA would certainly not approve - nor would my mom...

Sorry, no pictures. I was a little preoccupied ;)

Byron Yee
Peace Corps Volunteer - Senegal, 2009

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Mangrove Reforestation

The hippie in all of us wishes to plant trees. And this weekend, that wish was fulfilled.

2 back to back reforestation programs took place in Sokone and Toubacouta. The work was dirty, but lots of fun. It involved wading barefoot through swamps filled with crabs, including cool one-armed purple fiddlers. Diseases? Yes, but not for me. Others were unfortunate to get some nasty foot infections. Meanwhile I caught an unrelated case of fevers and diarrhea...

But the work included beautiful scenery, fun truck and boat rides, and great company, both Senegalese and other PCVs. It was a great and productive weekend.

Special thanks to Cail, Elida, and Oceanium for their organizational and hospitality efforts. Pictures to come soon...

--Byron YeePeace Corps Volunteer - Senegal, 2009

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

News of the Week

My baby brother (this cute little guy) is now potty trained.
What exactly does this mean? It means that he now pees outside the doorway to my room rather than inside my room. Progress is progress...good work kid!

Byron Yee
Peace Corps Volunteer - Senegal, 2009
Posted by Picasa

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Korite 2010

Korite: the end of Ramadan, the Islamic month long fast of no food and no water from sun up to sun down.

This was my second Korite celebration, but the first time seriously fasting (a total of 15 days), so this was the first time I personally felt justification and reason to celebrate. The morning started with the entire town gathering at the local mosque for prayer, then everyone dispersed to slaughter their meat in preparation for the feast.

Our preparation consisted of running around frantically after 3 frantic chickens for our lunch. I guess its the closest you get to primitive hunting in the 21st century...All our neighbors gathered for our large lunch feast of bread, fried meat, potatoes, and onions. We washed it all down with cold orange soda - my new favorite drink. Then after a quick prayer, we all dispersed for nap time.

Our festivities ended right in time as an intense rain storm came within 30 minutes of the final prayer. 24 hours later, its still raining...But at least we can eat a real breakfast and lunch at normal times again :)

Byron Yee
Peace Corps Volunteer - Senegal, 2009

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Vacation Part III - Back home and back to work

Like all vacations, they have a bittersweet ending.

What makes this especially difficult is saying goodbye to a very, very close friend. Nina proved to be a fantastic travel buddy and a wonderful companion. Thanks so much for linking up with me, I had a great time.

Well now, I'm back "home." Senegal welcomed me back with heat, humidity, a little harassment, and day old rain water floods. But I can now take all this in stride as I am full of good food, love, and peace. So, thanks to all for this wonderful opportunity and experience.

Paris, je t'aime.
Italia, grazie mille.
Senegal, bring it on. (Sorry, that doesn't really translate in Wolof...)

As always, pictures will eventually be up once I have time and working technology. Ciao!

Byron Yee
Peace Corps Volunteer - Senegal, 2009

Vacation Part II - Italy

After Paris, off to Italy, another lovely country...

1. Pisa: You know, the leaning tower seemed shorter, fatter, and less leaning that I expected...
2. Cinque Terre: My new favorite place in Italy (sorry Florence, I still love you too)
This was a magical place where one could hike, sunbathe, swim in the ocean, and eat delicious walnut ravioli all in just one day. Cinque Terre consists of 5 small towns located on the cliff side, each of which has its own unique feel, community, and charm. We were also able to meet up with another awesome friend, Erin Jensen, who was wrapping up her Slow Food program before heading back to Bellingham. Thanks for meeting up Erin!

3. Florence: Yes Florence, I still love you. Especially since you have some of my favorite paintings and sculptures - The Birth of Venice, and David. We also ate the best tasting Gelato ever and lots of wine and cheese. No seriously, one night we literally ordered a plate of cheese with honey and really good wine. My stomach and I had a love/hate relationship...

4. Venice: Another magical land (or lack of) where one can walk for hours, cross hundreds of bridges, and still remain terribly lost. But that's all part of the experience.
We forked up the money to go on a sweet gondola ride (when in Rome...) and had a lovely time with our gondolier Augustus, whose idol is Casanova. He claims to have a lot of girlfriends.
Finally, we were very lucky to be in town for the Regata, the annual ceremony on the grand canal. We saw a huge procession of gondolas in various shapes, sizes, colors, and splendor. Then we watched the excited races of gondolas, both big and small. It was a super awesome trip and a great way to spend our last day in Venice.

Byron Yee
Peace Corps Volunteer - Senegal, 2009

Vacation Part I - Paris

Just came back from a fantastic 15 day trip through France and Italy with my best friend, Nina. These blog posts attempt to give you all a quick recap of my linguistic, cultural, and gastronomic adventures.

First stop: Paris!
I flew from Dakar overnight to Paris and met up with miss Nina Jean Painter who had already been visiting her host family for a week. We spent about 5 days in Paris, visiting several museums, churches/cathedrals, and of course the Eiffel Tower.

Food: I officially satisfied my huge craving for crepes, wine, and other delicious things that are either unavailable or unaffordable in Senegal.

Birthday Celebrations: How cool would it be to spend your birthday in Paris on the Eiffel Tower? Well Nina was lucky and was able to do just that. We had a great dinner and a very chilly and windy time on the big tower.

Finally, I guess I didn't completely escape Senegal, as I ran into some vendors and chatted with them in Wolof. They were too surprised and confused to see an American tourist in Paris speaking their local tongue to have much of a conversation, but it was still fun...

Byron Yee
Peace Corps Volunteer - Senegal, 2009