16 October 2012
The following are reflections on what a year in country has done to the inner workings of Fatoumata Chetdo (that means Mandinka, in Pulaar) and Fatoumata Fulo (that means a Pulaar from the Fuladou, our region of Senegal). Fatou and Fatou is a comedy duo my friend Whitney and I have created to entertain ourselves and our fellow travelers as we suffer through Senegalese public transportation.
FC: So I was sitting in Sharon’s compound and realized there was no way this was the same world or time that I had lived in the rest of my life.
FF: As I biked through the heavily wooded forest I came upon what I thought was a herd of goats and turned out to be a pack of baboons. As I slowed, in some fear, I thought how does this same place exist with my home in South Dakota.
FF/FC: God made this all. He is watching the baboons and the cows grazing clover in America.
FC: Sitting with my best friend at site and the child she named after me, feeling closer to them than anything else and thinking nothing else exists outside this room.
FF: The bush is deep and full, full of trees and an abundance of life.
FC: I am not white.
FF: It is normal and natural to physically exert myself for necessities. Walking 10 kilometers to a road, pulling water from a 10-meter deep well.
FC: The stars at night are endless and magnificent and by some miracle I am not going to fall off the ground into them.
FF: If the diversity of this world is so great, what could be out there on other planets?
FF/FC: In any one space of green there are a 1000 shades of green.
FC: Not everything exists for a reason. Some plants serve no purpose to us but thrive anyway. The plants we value for food are only valuable by chance of having a large enough seed or sweet enough fruit.
FF: Our villages have evolved over generations but also remained the same.
FC: Our villages knew we existed before we knew they existed, before we ever came to Senegal.
Real time conclusion (7 Jan. 2013, only a little later): I think what it comes down to is that after a year in Senegal somethings are unfathomable and somethings are much easier to fathom than we ever thought they’d be. My friends, PCVs like Whitney and Senegals work partners and neighbors, have mostly made all the fathoming fun. And if you’re not going to spend time in the woods having philosophical thoughts while you’re in the Peace Corps, when else are you going to do it? Promise I haven’t gone too far off the deep end, though. My parents and brother were just here to confirm that and hopefully we’ll get their report up here on the blog soon.
Oh, and at the peak of our insanity we shaved our heads. What a perfect time to find out the true shape of our heads?
Love and Deep Thoughts,