Guess what! I’m in Gambia! It’s crazy but I don’t think things are that weird here. And I know it’s only been 4 days but I’m not yet feeling home sick. I do miss being normal. I’m not normal here by a long shot. In the larger cities of America where I’ve lived all my life, seeing internationals is an every day occurrence. In Gambia it’s not. And I may be black, but I’m not as dark as they are. I don’t walk like them or dress like them. Here, I am tubob. That means “white,” in Mandinka. Some of the people from the lodge that we’re staying at explained to us that the word “white” is synonymous with “westerner.” Some of the other African American people who are traveling with us sincerely dislike being called, tubob. But I don’t care. It’s only the kids who call us that and they don’t mean any harm. They don’t know what else to call us. They also can’t say much more than that in English. Most of the adults here do speak English, but it’s definitely not their first language and if your sentence gets too complex they may not understand you. There are 4 major tribes of people here. The largest group is Mandinka. There’s also Fula, Jala, and one more that I don’t remember. Each of those tribes has their own language and that is the first language of the people. They probably speak English at school and when they run into someone of a different tribe, but that’s about it.
I don’t even know what to say right now. So much has happened it’s hard to know where to start. I guess I’ll start with where I’m living. Like I said earlier, we’re in a city called Brikama. It’s a large city here, but it would be considered a small village in the US. We’ve been pretty spoiled thus far. The people at the hospital where we’re volunteering arranged for us to say in on of the town’s best hotels which is very close to the health center. There are beautiful tropical plants everywhere. People eat mangos and coconuts right off the trees. There are a few large umbrellas planted in the ground with chairs around them for relaxing. There’s also a covered area in the center of the hotel court yard with 2 tables underneath. That’s where we have all of our meals. The hotel has electricity every other night and running water most of the time. Of course we still can’t drink it, but we don’t have to go to a well to get water for showers, so that’s nice. The rooms have 1 full size bed in them each with a large mosquito net. I haven’t needed to use the net that much yet. It’s surprising but there aren’t that many mosquitoes here. I’m pretty sure the mosquitoes in STL are worse than the ones here… you know… with the exception of carrying malaria. The critters that I run into the most are ants and flies. Yesterday was the first rain of the rainy season and after that TONS of moth type bugs came out. I was glad that I had bought sun glasses. Not for the sun, but for the moths! Although, they definitely come in handy for the sun too. Even when the sky is cast with clouds, it still manages to be bright enough outside to make me squint. I wish I could post pictures of the huts but the internet here is too slow for that. Anyway, they’re cylinder shaped with tin roofs and hay over the tin. The walls are pretty thin so you can hear people talking outside of your hut and they can here you which means you should always be careful of the things you say. The staff at the hotel are very kind. It’s a family that runs it and they live in the compound that is directly next door do the hotel. I like sitting around with them, talking and listening to American music. There is sooooo much American music here. Most of the movies here are American too, but people don’t seem to watch movies that much. In the internet cafe where I’m writing this, there’s a poster of Sleeping Beauty on the wall. I thought that was kind of funny. Here, the road are not dirt roads; they are sand roads. The sand is red like clay tennis courts.
There’s so much more to say, but my time on the computer is running out and I have a bit of a headache right now anyway. But at least it’s not diarrhea, right?