Howdy boys and gals!
Hope life has been a big bundle of sunshine. Well for me, Madina life has been spectacular. Since I've been in town, I've only made a couple of children cry. The best was when I was walking down the street giving my little cutesy dog, Shady Baby (named after one of the most popular music artists in Salone), some exercise and I hear this 4 year old boy screaming and wailing. I look over and this woman is dragging the small child to the street while yelling "Fada, Fada!". Shady and I enjoyed the free entertainment, so we stood there. The two of them approach me and the woman is yelling at her son to bow down to the ground and touch my feet. Then she instructs him to say "I love the cross" and tells me that he uses "abusive language." Uhh...is this an exorcism ma'am because I left my holy water back at the house? I guess you just never know what you're going to stumble upon on strolls around the village!
I've also come to the conclusion that my dog is more popular than I am in my community. We'll be walking around and everyone will ask about the name of my dog. I tell them and then awkwardly stand there and say, "And... um...if you were wondering, my name's Rachel." Shady Baby has been proven to be a friend magnet though, woohoo! Now when we walk around town everyone yells his name over and over again. Also, a lot of people will yell, "Give me that dog," and my response is always, "No, this is my child!" Everyone gets a kick out of that, mostly because most people don't really have pets here.
Besides going on walks with Shady Baby, I've also been running and biking a decent amount. I usually run down this dirt road... well, they're all dirt roads so I don't really get a choice in that matter... but I run on the road that leads to my closest volunteer's village. I usually run to the next village and I always seem to pick up some kids along the way. Just like my buddy Forrest Gump! I'm sure it is a sight seeing me jogging in all my Pitt gear and 7 kids in their torn and tattered clothes and shoes trailing behind me. The one day a child was wearing an old Michael Jordan jersey and all I kept thinking was, "Here I am in Sub-Saharan Africa running faster than MJ himself!" Suck on that all those coaches that cut me from those sport teams in Junior High - look what you missed out on, ha!
My days are also filled with working on my house - it is going to be my home for the next two years. One of the first days I went around sweeping and wiping down the walls. Basically it turned into World War III - America vs. Arachniland. The spiders were vicious and had a lot of troops, but I ended up with the victory in the end. Cleaning has just been one of the domestic skills I've picked up. I started my first coalpot fire by myself and brooked (laundry). Everything just takes a lot of time, especially when you're an inexperienced American in Africa.
Also, since I've been in Madina, I've been going to the carpenter, the tailor, market day (on Fridays), and going to a Catholic church. I've also been on some adventures to pass the time. My two closest volunteers and myself had to go to a town about 70 miles away to go to the bank the one day. We got there no problem, but then we couldn't find transportation back. So, what did we do? Well, we just started walking in the African sun. After a couple miles, a member of Parliament stopped and gave us a ride in the direction we were going. We were back on our own two feet again before we knew it. I eventually got home, but it sure was an experience! Another day I biked 25 miles on this dirt road to my district capital. I really thought at one point I wasn't going to make it from being hot and tired, but I looked up above and threw up some prayerful words and made it safe and sound.
This month was Ramadan, so a lot of people in my town were fasting all day long. The last day is Pray Day, which was really fun! We had a little soccer match, The Bread Sellers v. the F.C. Banguras. It was raining cats and dogs - it was pretty entertaining to watch all the boys slipping and sliding in their gel (athletic?) shoes.
As I write this I am in air conditioned room at the Peace Corps compound in Freetown, which is just marvelous darlin! School starts next week - can't wait!!
"Treat people as if they were what they ought to be, and help them become what they are capable of being." - Goethe