Peace Corps informed us about a month ago that Mauritania (RIM) will be cancelled. I then heard through the grapevine that 1st year volunteers were given the option to leave the country will full-term benefits. They've scattered our group throughout Africa and luckily for me, I'm one of the few who was placed in the adjacent country: Senegal. So, my packing list will hardly change but from what I've gathered, Senegal will be a very different experience. For one, the Sahara desert does not cover ANY of the country, so we can conclude that I won't be dealing with 125F degree days and sand storms ruining my electronics and zippers. Senegalese culture is less conservative than that of Mauritania, so there's no need for ankle-length skirts and head scarves. Alcohol is legal. Street food is plentiful and delicious. There's a mango season, and I'll have regular access to fruits and veggies. The country is, for the most part, green and it's inhabited by animals such as giraffes, antelope, rhinos, hippos, monkeys, and warthogs. Senegal is the Africa I had imagined living in when I first applied for PC over a year ago. But since they assigned me to RIM, I had been mentally preparing myself to live in exile, in a sweltering land of sand dunes and camels, surviving on oily sandy couscous, and gatorade flavored water. In a strange way, I began to look forward to it.
This is new assignment is a blessing, as I've heard from many that the programs in Senegal are much better organized and the country is filled with more amenities. I can do without the sand-filled meals.
I've been doing a good job of keeping my days jam packed. I spend much of the time explaining to people why I'm still in the country, and the rest is divided between selling my furniture and car, spending time with friends and family, studying french, and eating everything in sight. I've been indulging on Pinkberry, Krispy Kreme and a mountain of chemical-filled junk food that I haven't had an interest in since grade school. Cheetos, Twinkies, Slurpees, boxes of Nerds and bags of Pixie Sticks, Laffy Taffy's, ice cream bars, and spicy chips. I must be nostalgic of childhood and Americana. Two more weeks of lovely hot showers and soft down blankets. Then, Africa here I come...for real this time. Inch'allah.