Today is September 11th. The new group swears-in as Peace Corps Vounteers tomorrow. They are very excited and quite ready to finish with training and get on with the rest of their service here. And I agree... it's been a busy 10 weeks. Since they arrived here on July 3rd, my life has been a blur of traveling between Fatoto and various training sessions. But my brief visits to Fatoto this summer were calm and relaxing. It rained there every day in August, which kept the temperatures down and made it possible for me to spend time lying in bed, listening to the rain patter on my family's corrogate roof and reading books. I've always enjoyed rainy days, but after the 3 months of living through temperatures in the 110's and 120's, I have a whole new aprreciation for rain, or even just clouds. The country has undergone it's rainy season transformation. Areas that were sandy, brown, and barren are all lush and green now. The roads, which are difficult enough to travel in the dry season are just patches of mud, with scattered lakes and numerous potholes. Every available patch of land has been sowed with seeds of millet, rice, and corn. Most of these plants are already taller than I am.
When it was not raining, I was outside in my garden, weeding and composting and sowing new seeds. Those who sent me seeds from the states will be happy to hear that I've managed to get some of them to grow, including zucinni, cucumber, cilantro, basil, sunflowers, and watermellon. In addition, I have three garden beds full of tomato plants, one bed of bell pepper plants, and a few sickly-looking cabage plants. Nothing has fruited yet, but some of my plants have begun to flower. I also intercropped squash, pumpkin, and watermellon in my family's cous fields, which have also begun to grow nicely. I've discovered a new passion for gardening that I never knew I had before now. Sometimes I wonder what my Peace Corps experience would be like if I could just plant seeds and work in gardens all day. I hope that I'll have the time keep up with it once school starts.
I will be heading back to Fatoto on Sunday. School was supposed to open this week, but in typical Gambian fashion, few teachers, headmasters, or students actually show up for the first week of school... so I'm not actually missing anything. I'm excited and hesitant to get back into the classroom. I am working on a few projects that I'd like to implement in my school and my community this year. If I manage to do it all, it will be a busy year, once again. In addition, I'm planning on taking a few weeks off of school next month and actually getting out of The Gambia. Josiah and I have decided to do a little bit of traveling. Originally, we planned on traveling to Sierra Leone, but after researching the costs of that trip, we've decided to do a slightly different trip. The visa itself for Sierra Leonne is $100. There are less expensive countries to travel through, so we will be traveling through Senegal, Mali, and Guinea. I'm really looking forward to it. Now that I've traveled all of my little slice of West Africa, I'm ready to see some more!