Monday, June 18, 2007

Another day

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Words cannot describe exactly how I feel right now, but it makes me feel good to try, so here I go. Today began like most of our other days so far. Cultural and language training, safety and health awareness, one more round of immunizations... my body is pumped full of immunizations at this point... At the end of all of this, we took a trip to the crocodile pond in Basau, which is not far from where we are staying in the Kombo region. The crocodile pond is very historic and mystical to the Gambian people who believe that the crocodile symbolizes fertility, and come to the pond to pray and/or bath in it one cannot bear a child. There is also a small museum with various African artifacts and historical summaries from different Gambian time periods. The crocodiles are tame, and allow visitors to pet them... so here is my snapshot of petting the crocodile. However, take this picture with a grain of salt, because the true experience of getting to the pond was worth more than a picture to me. In fact, I had my camera out, ready to take a picture, and decided that there was no way to truly portray the streets of Basau with a photograph... so I put it back in my purse. This was my first image of what it really means to be in a third world country. The homes of these people were crudely constructed of corrogated tin and stacked upon each other very closely. The streets were crowded with people of all ages, goats, dogs, and trash. A small stream filled with trash and what smelled like a sewer... and probably was... ran beside the road. Since the crocodile pond and the museum attract tourists, the children come running to you asking for gifts and money. They are used to seeing Toubobs like us, which is the Gambian word for foreigner or outsider. We drove our air-conditioned Peace Corps van through these crowded streets, each of us taking in the sight of it all. Then we got out of the van, went into the museum, took a bunch of pictures and read a bunch of information. Then we each waited in line to have our picture taken petting the crocodile... then we walked back to the van, got in, and drove off. Many of my fellow trainees have traveled to very poor third world countries before, but no one had seen a sight quite like this before. I believe that this is why the Gambians are wear such bright, beautiful colors and act so happy all of the time. They have to add a little bit of color to their lives. This experience has run deeply through me. I am determined to do something to add a little bit more color to the lives of even just a few...

9 comments:

chaddaddy said...

What up kid!! So what is more dangerous?? Petting that crocogator or me on a bad Jim Beam night. LOL!!! Glad to see you are doin fine. Physics is tearin me a new one this summer, but I think I'll still pull off an A. Chris says what up and I'm still finding new waterfalls every month. Should have atleast 200 different ones for you to see when ya get back. Anyway, have a good one a on another continent for me. I'll be travelin before too long myself.
Luv ya
Chad (Dove cirlce forever)

Sarah said...

So, people actually bathe with the crocodiles? Yikes! I'm glad you still have all of your extremeties. Sounds like it was pretty overwhelming to take in all of your surroundings on the way there. You might not be able to change everything...but I have no doubt that you'll brighten the lives of those you encounter during your two years.

On a side note, when I saw your picture of the mangoes, I couldn't help but think that you should have packed your mom's juicer :) Maybe she'll drop it in the mail!

Jen said...

North, lookin' good girl! How appropriate you show up with a mandolin. Thank god you brought it. Somehow, I can't imagine Rocky Top having any other words so I'll just have to trust you on that one. Just don't let the croc eat your mando. But the real question is, "Did you bring any DUCT TAPE???" by the way, did I mention I'm still not dealing with the Telluride thing very well. Seems trite compared to what you are experiencing. Love ya, Ox

mom said...

Step away from the crocodile!!

Julie Walker said...

wow - this blog thing is really cool! i'm just catching up with all the posting and comments! you sound like you are truly taking it all in and i can feel the emotion within you with all your explanations and experiences....keep it up!!! that picture of you petting that crocodile really freaked me out at first - i can't imagine you swimming with them! wow! i will be checking this every day now, even though i think you might be moving on today and may have limited access.....i'm amazed at how much you can share and how much we can all keep in touch with you! i love you bunches! xoxo Julie :>)

Kelly said...

Hey Campbell,
Before I write anymore, just want to say HAPPY EARLY BIRTHDAY. I am afraid by the 30th you may not have access to get birthday greetings so this is mine to you! I think it is amazing spending your birthday in Africa so enjoy.

So, OMG,I don't think I'd have the balls to pet that croc and you aren't even looking at it while your posing for your pic. I'd be keeping my eyes on it every second! Tamed crocs??? So did you actually swim in the pond then? I love the pics so far especially the one of you with the Gambian woman. You look so happy. The language must be hard, you'll do it thought, I know.
I love you, Kelly

Kelly said...

OH your ma's comment is perfect!

John said...

You ROCK, Kristy!! Inspiration, move her brightly....

Eric said...

Sounds like you’re seeing some amazing things... Don’t swim in that river, even with every shot possible.

Take it all in and be safe,

Love you Sis