Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Last Hurahh

It has been a while since the last time I have updated my blog.  I have gone to America, returned started thinking and preparing for the future after Peace Corps and now I am counting the days when I will leave The Gambia; my home for the past 40 months. 

I went on my final food security trek this past week, It was bittersweet I got to see many of the projects that other volunteers have been working on finally come to fruition and be successful after all of their hard work.  On that same token I have see projects that volunteers have put equally the same amount of work into if not more, not be as much of a success. 

As with all of the treks I have been on there is a lot of window time.  I tried to really observe as much of The Gambia as I could, paying attention to details and trying to see things that I might not have seen before and appreciate the things I have see many time over again. 

The first morning we arrived at the ferry.  We had to wait in the line of cars for over two hours.  During this time we got to observe the individual pictured below.  He was a ‘Marabou’ from Mali.  A Marabou, is a religious healer often peddling medicines and other remedies for every imaginable sickness, ache and problem.  He had a traditional Malian shirt and a Dallas Mavericks jersey underneath, I never discovered if he was a Mavs fan or not.  He had two large Royal Pythons, one about four feet and the other probably about 10 feet.  As ferries would arrive he would take these snakes out of a box on the front of his bicycle and lay them on the ground, lay them around his neck or let them hang from his umbrella.  From a  distance it looked like the man was kissing them. To me this was interesting but then I noticed he would grabbing them and kissing them.  I thought this was interesting so I took the camera and kind of hid behind the car and zoomed way in and snapped some pictures.  It wasn’t until I looked at the picture I discovered that he was actually putting the snakes head into his mouth.  I freaked out!  This guy is crazy, I showed the picture to Bah2 our Gambian program assistant and he just laughed and said he probably is selling medicine for snake bites, which is ironic.  People were rushing over and buying little sacks of medicine. 

Later that night we reached another volunteers garden project and below are some pictures of her vegetable nursery that is very very large. 

The next day we went to Keith’s garden.  His garden is looking real good.  The rows of vegetable look like they were put in with a ruler.


One project that we visited was refurbishing a old garden.  One of the problems that we were looking at was a cement lined well that was tilted because of water erosion.

Small boy with a dirty face

As we were driving through a landscape that is now brown and some shade of green because it is dry season and the rains are still month’s away color is something that catches your eye.  This apple blossom pink tree was beautiful, it was almost seem to sparkle.  In all of my treks and traveling all over The Gambia I have never see this tree.

 We were traveling through a volunteer’s village and noticed as we were approaching it there was a lot of smoke and a bush fire was approaching.  As we arrived in the village there community garden had already been burned and was continuing to destroy everything that was in its way. 

We stopped by to check on a tree that the volunteer had planted a year ago to pick some fruit to plant.  This tree is a Ziziphus mauritiana, of Indian jujube, or Pumelo de Sahel.  It tastes like an apple.  It is a marvelous tree, it has thorns so it can be planted as a live fence and goats and other animals love eating the leaves.  It also produces this sweet fruit that can be sold or eaten.  The variety that grows all over The Gambia produces fruit that is the size of a marble and these fruit are the size of ping pong balls. 
Just like every trek some stops involve long village meetings, trying to resolve misunderstandings or explain expectations of both the volunteer and community.
Cashew blossoms
 After the meeting this small child’s mother told me to hold her child so she could carry the chairs,  I would have much rather carried the chairs as I am not a huge fan of small children but I took one for the team and carried this child to her house.  As one person said when I explained this picture to them they asked, “why didn’t you just let her walk?”  well, the answer is I didn’t think of that and she didn’t say “put me down”  It also didn’t matter that we didn’t speak the same language…

The next project is a volunteer helping a hospital with gardening and grafting mangos.  When we arrived another volunteer was there with him.  I was lucky enough to capture her smile, probably the best in The Gambia.
I also capture probably the best Peace Corps staff smile; Bah2, the guy loves grafting so as you can see he is all smiles.

 Bah2 also admired some murals that Jessica painted at the hospital.

 This is a gourd tree these large fruit are picked and dried and bowls are made from them.

Sarah painted this nice mural on the side of her hut.  In her village the people make beds, chairs and other things out of bamboo. 

We went out to the village apiary and looked at some of the hives that the village maintains. 

 This is Bah2 and Sarah working on some paperwork in her house.

This is a beehive they made. 

Another village meeting

 Below are a couple batik shirt I purchased.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Another Trek

I recently went on trek for a week to check on projects and help develop some new sites for new volunteers. Myself and Seth went along. He brought his nice SLR camera and we both took lots of pictures with it.
Me in the middle of a village

This trek we did a lot of Mango grafting. We helped a couple PCVs with improving their varieties of Mangos. It is the end of the rainy season.


We stopped at Mikela’s site for a few hours. It was too hot to graft so we took a break and enjoyed lunch.
Most of the Staple Crops are being Harvested and one in particular that I love it sugarcane
This is a mural that she painted with her family and used their hands as hair. Yes, she has a cactus in her compound; It is the only cactus that I know of in The Gambia.

Her counterparts love Obama and chicks. This is a project she is working on with them to improve food security. Mikela got in some grafting practice. Our trek was a week before Tobaski so our drive found a nice ram and a good price so he bought it. I had to test its strength and make sure it was securely tied to the top of the vehicle. The other picture is of another ram being transported. Yes, the ram is alive.

We stopped by Sumner’s site and did some more grafting. He is also doing a poultry project and has some of the largest chickens I have ever seen in this country.

One of the last sites we stopped at the village leader told me that I was the “Leader of beards.” He wanted a picture with me so he called me over along with this young girl to lift up his feet. The picture was little awkward but it worked out.
The Leader of the Beards and the followers

Nate is a PCV, his compound has a monkey and has been featured on my blog before but BOBO the monkey is always a favorite. He now helps groom Nate and wrestles with small children after lunch. Recently Nate texted me and told me that BOBO got loose the other night and they kept hearing children screaming throughout the village because BOBO would attack them and want to wrestle with them. Eventually BOBO was caught and tied back up to his tree.
BOBO and Nate
Gambian Clouds