Saturday, July 5, 2008

Arrival: Round 2

Alright, I'll try this again. I've underestimated how slow things move here and how fast 30 minutes goes by. I'll attempt to actually complete this post.

We officially arrived in Jambanjelly around two weeks ago now. It took us about 48 hours of travel to get to the village, but we made it and the village was so excited to see us. Settling in to life here has been easier than I expected. The people are incredible here. Everyone is so nice, and so willing to take the time to make us comfortable. Within 10 minutes we had all been given our Gambian names and inundated by small children. We're living in a compound right near the center of the village. All families live in compounds here, which are basically a piece of land with multiple cement dwellings that house most of the extended family. I've been impressed with how civilized our living conditions are. I guess I just expected to be living in a hut in the middle of a forest. It's been a welcomed surprise to have electricity and a gas stove.

It took a few days to deal with the preparation for the start of construction, but we're now making progress. They say if you accomplish one thing here a day than it's a successful day. Most of the work left on the library is skilled labor. Our job is to aid the carpenters, the masons, and the electricians with whatever we can. At first they had zero faith in our ability and were hesitant to let us touch a saw or hammer. They eventually realized that we were capable of helping and working with the locals has become really enjoyable. We're never sure if they're laughing at us or something else, but they seem to enjoy our company. We're hoping to finish the ceiling and electrical work within the next week so we can start to focus on the floor and shelves.

The hardest part of the building here is dealing with the logistics. We have an incredibly limited budget (even by African standards) and it's going to be difficult to fit everything in. The original plan called for a septic tank and toilet system for inside the library. Unfortunately it's come down to us choosing between paying for shelves to hold the books or putting in the septic tank. It's hard to tell the village what to do with their library, but I guess it doesn't make much sense to have a library with no books and a nice bathroom.

Life outside of the work has been great. We've discovered the beach here and some of our friends have been nice enough to loan us bikes. There's no question that it's one of the most beautiful places I've ever seen. During our free time we usually just relax at the compound or roam the village with friends. I've been amazed at how much I've learned about the people here and their culture just by walking around.

That's all I have time for now, hopefully I'll make it back to Brikama by next weekend.


Anonymous said...

i check your blog everyday jeff so i can live vicariously through you. you are an amazing person with an amazing opportunity. id tell you to take complete advantage of it but i know thats exactly what you are doing. just wish i was there with you bud


lully said...

what hopies said

heffy :) you're unbelievable baby! you never cease to amaze me. can't wait to hear all about it when you come back to the states. keep workin hard out there heffy poo

Aubrey said...

you sound like you're having an amazing time!! I'm so happy for you :) I have an absolutely amazing/hilarious picture I have to show you when you get back (it's not amazing for it's quality of course, just it's content...) anyway keep up the good work and enjoy every minute!!

bisoux de paris!

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