Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Living in Happy Camp

I was asked to put some pictures up of my room so I am going to make another blog post about life at Happy Camp.

Here is my room!

This is my bed! With the lovely mosquito net that makes me feel like a princess.

This is the view of my room from the door. There are two more beds to the left, but I have no roommates.. I used to have one but she went home and I miss her so much! Now I have tons of space I don't know what to do with lol
I have a bathroom in my room! I don't use the tub because there is not enough water, but to the right in the picture is the shower and there is no shower curtain.. Makes for a very flooded bathroom, but I really am not complaining!

We've been trying to get out of Happy Camp as much as possible and that is getting easier as the culture shock has worn off. But I was sick a couple weeks ago for an entire week so last week was  my recover period and this week is my I'm-feeling-100%-better-and-want-to-do-everything week. I felt so useless when I was sick. I didn't go to school, I didn't go to my internship and I slept a lot. I walked down the street (literally less than a minute walk away) to get bread and was exhausted, it was so frustrating. But when I'm not frustrating with Happy Camp I like it, but also want to get out and interact with Gambians or buy amazing things.

One thing we have at Happy Camp is language and culture class with Baboucarr and Awa. Five of us (Madeleine, Kyle, Austin, Sam and I) are learning Wolof and Daniel is learning Mandinka. It was very overwhelming at first learning a language so different than anything I'm used to (and it still has overwhelming moments) but we definitely have grasped the basics. There are no verbs to conjugate! Just a lot of pronouns...

Greetings are so so important in The Gambia. If you pass by someone or enter a room without greeting them you are considered a very rude person and you will offend anyone around. Greetings usually consist of a series of questions and answers. Most of the time I start with saying "Salaammaaleekum" which is the Wolof version of the Arabic phrase "salam aleikum" which means "peace be upon you". And the response is "Malekum salam," "and peace with you." Some basic greetings in Wolof are: (note that there are some letters I cannot type)

Question: Nanga def : How are you?
Response: Manag fi : Literally means I am here.

Question: Jaama ngaam? : Do you have peace?
Response: Jaama rek: Peace only

Questions: Ana/Naka waa kér ga: Where/How are the home people?
Response: Nung fa/fi : They are there/here

Question: Mbaa defunu dara? : I hope nothing is wrong with them?
Response: Déédéét defunu dara?

Question: Naka suba si? : How is the morning
Response: Suba sangi fi rek : The morning is here only

Question: Jama nga fanaan? : Did you spend the night in peace?
Response: Jaama rek: Peace only

Question: Naka becek bi? : How is the afternoon?
Response: Becek bangi fi rek : The afternoon is here only

Madeleine pretending to teach, sometimes we have too much fun in language class.

Sitting down to learn some Wolof!

Awa is an amazing woman as well as a great language teacher. She has helped us girls find nice fabric in the market at a great price and I can ask her about anything at all. She is a very strong woman as well as hilarious and has so many stories. 

At first we loved to make food that we were used to from home in Happy Camp because it's hard to find good Western style food here. Now we love the food here and are starting to learn to cook some Gambian things, but before here are some of the things we cooked:
We regularly made midnight eggs and ate American snacks in the beginning of our trip

A woman came by selling crabs and we decided to cook em up Maryland style because no one we were with knew how to cook them Gambian style.. We hope to go catch some crabs and make them Gambian style soon!

We get avocados sent to the house a lot because we get our dinners catered to us during the week and they also sent fruit! So we decided to make guacamole! It might look very different (yellow?) but it was absolutely delicious!
Now people are more into making Gambian food here. I have been out of the house or busy every time this has happened though unfortunately! I am learning to cook Gambian food form my family and from my friend at the University of the Gambia, though. People have made a Gambian style porridge (with groundnuts and rice), yasa, benechin and onion sauce. All of which are my favorite Gambian dishes! 

We are also enjoying trying things that are strictly Gambian. Like buying food on the side of the street and in the market that we cannot find back home. There are many good vendors at UTG. They sell rock buns (which are like muffins but denser and so delicious), meat pies (which are just like they sound), Gambian pancakes (kind of like donuts, fried delicious dough) and so much more.

An example of something we can find in the market wold be what is pictured above. This is sweet sop (in English) an amazing fruit I have discovered here in The Gambia. Apparently they have it in California as well... I will be missing this fruit a whole lot. It is so sweet and different than anything I've ever tasted.

Something else fun to mention is that during the rainy season when it would rain A LOT, Happy Camp would flood. The rainy season ended in the beginning of October. I miss it because the rain would cool off a hot day, but it was also more humid sometimes. October is dreadfully hot. Even Gambians complain ("Dafa tanga lol" - it is very hot, is a common phrase now a days), but apparently November will be much better.

This was taken from the second floor of Happy Camp by Madeleine. So this is right outside our door. There's a street underneath all that water somewhere. This is what I call the Kanifing River. Because we live in Kanifing in case you don't know!

There's a sewer down there somewhere. Kinda scary because you could walk in it and not see and totally fall. Gotta be careful.

This picture was taken by Madeleine as well, right outside the door to the inside of Happy Camp. Don't worry we helped save the house from drowning!
More to come soon!

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