It has been so long since I’ve written. We’ve been very busy with language classes, tests, and a counterpart workshop. The workshop was for all the counterparts (local community members who help volunteers with projects and integration into the community). I have three counterparts: Monsieur Sarr (principle of a primary school), Monsieur Sall (a school inspector), and another counterpart from the mayor’s office. Paul has two counterparts: Madame Ly (a matrone) and Monsieur Dem (ICP-chef du medicin of the health center of Podor). They are all people whose work and role in the community will help us with development projects.
After the workshop, we got a beautiful weekend in Popenguine (north of Sally and Ngekhokh along the coastline). Our trainee stage rented out a beautiful home on the beach. We swam in the ocean, read books in the sand, ate at some nice restaurants, and just relaxed for a couple days. It felt other-worldly and there were times when I forgot that I was in Senegal. The coast is so beautiful.
We spent a final week with our homestay family. Paul and I had a rough few days dealing with a mango fly larvae (possibly)…but that is a story that Paul should tell. We spent a lovely day making beignets for our families and then went around together to all our homes to say thank you. I adopted a very sick kitten. We named her Hunter. Paul insisted it was too early to name her and perhaps he was right. Evan’s host sister found her on the streets, dying of thirst. We cleaned her up and started feeding her milk from a dropper bottle. She was doing really well—walking, eating, peeing, pooping, purring, suckling—but blood in the stool is typically a bad omen. The morning of the day that we were leaving Ngekhokh, I went to feed her but she was cold and rigid. Paul came back from his bucket shower to find me sobbing on the floor of our room. You think that I would know better. She was as lifeless as any animal I have ever killed for the museum. And petting her wouldn’t bring her back. And after an already awful start to the day, we had to say goodbye to our family. We walked to the boulangerie where the bus would find us. All the Ngekhokh families were there with their trainees. Women and children everywhere, greeting each other for one final time. Evan’s many sisters. My aunt, two brothers, and cousins. It is so hard, stepping away from a place that has been home to a vast unknown. Pop left for home early; he hates goodbyes. I kept picking up Ami tokosel and pretending to board the bus with her in my arms. Our neene was still not back from Mauritania. But we’ll see her for a good-bye party in Thies on Thursday. Goodbye Ngekhokh. Hello Podor.