Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Sorry for the long delay in posting, there really has been a lot going on, we promise. Fiona and Carrie were here for a few days and we realized after we dropped them off at the airport that we didn't take a single picture with them (sorry Fiona).

But what we do have for you is our latest adventure to Dakar. You would think that taking the highway 25 km wouldn't be such a big deal, but believe us, it really is.

Lucky for us everyday is a day in paradise, the weather is still beautiful here.

Unlucky for us, is the size of Herma's back seat. Crystal was booted from sitting in it because "her hips were too big". Funny story, we got pulled over and Herma got a ticket because she had too many people in the car. Funny?Funny! Because any given car rapeed has at least 15 more people in it than it should.

While in Dakar we had our usual run in with the local vendors, this time we gave in and bought this great Rasta hat...
...great until you see it from the side, nice, eh?

Most of the other errands were boring, so we'll leave you with some pictures of how we do it here in Senegal.
This is a great little off-the-beaten-path restaurant that Herma took us too for cokes.
Us ladies got to stick together.
The weather's beautiful, wish you were here, wait you can be in March, check Dox out, eh?

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Birthday in Africa

Happy birthday to me (and Kurtis--by birthday day buddy). Kurtis just photoshop yourself in, eh?Had someone told me at my last birthday (which was spent at Platinum) that I would be celebrating 28 years of life on this earth in Africa, I never would have believed them.My HOT DATE!!! Love you baby!Check the cool art in the back ground.
The whole place was in neutral brown tones and super cozy/modern, can you do that at the same time?
We tried out some ice cream, mine was pistachio and sesame, yum, yum!
What else goes with ice cream than an ice cold beer?
"Proast", it's essentially the same thing as "toast". Thanks Herma.Thanks for a super birthday, see you next year!
The restaurant was super cute and modern, for a minute I totally forgot I was in Africa...then I walked outside.

Monday, January 12, 2009

From Keur Soce to The Gambia

Picking up from our last post...we traveled another 100 km or so to The Gambia. We went to drop off some stuff for a friend and renew our visa. For those of you who do not know your West African geography, The Gambia is a country completely surrounded by Senegal. The Gambia borders the Gambian River about 15 km on each side. Rumor has it, the way the British staked out their claim was by taking boats up the river and shooting canons out on both sides, wherever the canons landed is where the border of the country was. Don't know if it's true, but it's interesting.
We needed to get to Banjul, the capital, and in order to do that we had to take a ferry. By the time we got to the dock and waited for the next ferry to come it was already dark.
It was interesting being on the ferry because there were a lot more white people than we usually see in Malika. It was interesting to be one of many, many nationalities on this ferry.
We stayed with some friends of friends of Herma's (that's already 3 degrees of separation), but it doesn't really matter because we have found people to be VERY hospitable. So these friends-of-friends, ended up having their OTHER friends from Holland over, so we all went to the beach to hang out. We thought we were in for just a short dip-in-the-ocean and head somewhere else, we ended up staying at the beach ALL day, it was amazing.
The Dutch friends ended up knowing these locals who were Gambians, but sounded like Jamiacans. Actually, they ALL sounded like Jamiacans. But the locals ended up owning this restaurant/bar right on the beach. They brought out beds to lay on, and Cokes and peanuts, it was SO nice. It was like a resort...but not like this one which was full of fat toubobs (white people). It had more of a off the beaten path feel, it was super cool.
After a while, the owners of the place decided to shut down the bar and all the guys went to play futbol.
You know? Soccer?
Those who weren't playing futbol were just playing in the surf.
Or, just enjoying the sun. Crystal's dread buddies.
After the game, we all just hung out and enjoyed the sunset.
Later that night we were all planning on going to a Sizzla reggae show, but Crystal had gotten sick earlier that day. We were all a little dehydrated so we drank some water from the fridge that we THOUGHT was filtered (cue music, da-da-duh) almost immediately Sandro started to throw up. So it just ended up being Scotty...
...and "the crew". The show went until 6 in the MORNING!!! We were going to catch the 7AM bus back to Senegal, but Sandro and Crystal were still too sick to go. Luckily neither of us got sick from the water, just Sandro. So we stayed an extra day. We didn't do anything exciting because of the sickies, but we did manage to get out and go to this super cute Jamaican restaurant...
...where Scotty and Sandro had fish head soup.
It was really cute, but still rustic and a little run down which just added to it's character. They had a couch and books. It's the kind of place where the workers and their friends just hang out all day.
The next day we all felt good so we got ourselves to the ferry and this nice Ocean Search and Rescue guy helped us get a fair taxi to the border. Once at the border we got our new stamps and hiked the 2 km to the bus/taxi station to catch a bush taxi, which is really just a run down mini station wagon full of people. It took us 8 hours to go the 150 km from the border to Malika, crazy, but that is Senegal. Needless to say, we were HAPPY to be home.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Our trip to Keur Soce

A couple weeks ago, we headed to Keur Soce with our friend, Boubou (in the gray and white striped shirt). We were going to do some research on a well project that our church, Dox, is involved in. We got to the bus stop early enough to stop by this restaurant to get some breakfast...yes this is actually a restaurant, serving great sandwhiches for the equivalent of $1 USD each.The bus ride was a grueling 8 hours. Every half hour or so the bus driver would stop to drop off people or pick up more and when he did these vendors would climb onto the bus to sell their goods to the passengers. I wish we had gotten some video so you could appreciate the speed and the amount of noise that this particular kind of selling could execute, amazing, they have made it an art.
Once in Keur Soce, we visted several outlying villages to see what their current water situation was and what their needs are. This is the first village we visited, the same village where we bought Chaco. After taking pictures, everyone would crowd around me and want to look at the picture I had just taken of them. They loved having their picture taken and then seeing what it looked like.After visting this village, we drove about 20 km in the bush to the next one. Sandro (our Swiss friend--also staying with Herma), Chaco and Crystal all rode in the back of the truck.
We drove through several villages on the way, each time a crowd of kids would appear and chase the truck through the village.

The drive to the next village was amazing. It looked like all the movies you see, open country with boubob trees. We experienced an overwhelming feeling of freedom and also just amazment of remembering that we are in Africa. We are so blessed.
The sun was setting before we reached the next village. Here is a pictureque boubob tree, they are amazing.
At the next village we walked with the elders to the proposed well cite. Here they told us their needs and after we all squatted in a circle and prayed for the well project. It was an interesting experience to here everyone praying at the same time, Muslim, Christian, all praying for the village.On our way back, it became too dark to visit any more villages that day. We drove past several villages, all of which were burning something(s) in the middle of the villages. We never really got a clear answer of what they were burning or why, but it was cool to see the light from the middle of the village from the fire lighting up all the huts in the darkness.
The next day, we looked at a couple more water needs, one in particular is not digging a well, but rather burrying a pipe from the existing waterline to an outlying "suburb" of Keur Soce. We marked out the distance from the water main and it will require a trench to be dug that is only about 350 meters.Here Boubou and Scotty marking the desired stopping point for the water line. It will be located in a central location and will ease the strain on families moving to the outskirts of Keur Soce.
We are working closely with the leaders of the community. They were the ones to indicate which areas are most in need and they are helping coordinate the project. They are the leaders of the area and with out their blessing the project could not go through.
Not everything in Keur Soce was work, we also had a chance to hang out with some of the villagers, especially the children. Once they saw the camera, they were all over Scotty.
When the kids got a little loud it scared Chaco. She would huddle up next to Crystal to hide, so sweet.