Merry Christmas from The Gambia…

Tonight… Christmas Eve… PCV friends and I made spaghetti, veggies, fruit salad, and more… and had some cookies, peppermint white chocolate, candy canes, and hot chocolate while watching Love Actually… Merry Christmas from The Gambia!!!

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Quick recap of the last 2 months…

I have not updated this thing in ages with anything substantial… and tonight… I’m not really in the mood to write much. However, I will just give a very quick rundown of what has been happening in my life as of late.

Last December, I had my IST (In-Service Training). It lasted 1 week from December 17-23. Then I stayed in Kombo for Christmas with the rest of the Peace Corps folks. On December 28-29, there were a 2-day GAD Day workshop for volunteers and their counterparts, and I took my counterpart Lamin from the hospital. Then on December 30th, Joe, Sarah A., and I flew off and away to the Kingdom of Morocco! For 2 weeks, the three of us along with my friend Jordan (in the UK) explored Morocco. We went to Casablanca, Meknes, Volubilis, Chefchaouen, Fes, Marrakech, and a 3-day desert tour to the Sahara (via the Atlas Mountains and visiting places such as Merzouga, Todra Gorge, Ouarzazate, and Ait Benhaddou). (Note: I’ll do my best posting Morocco pictures and a better blog update about Morocco when I get more time.)

Upon arriving back in the Gambia, I went straight to work at the Senior Secondary School teaching computers. To my surprise, my counterpart at the school was no where to be found. He was MIA, and he remained MIA for 2 weeks! Finally, he returned on the 3rd week of classes, and low and behold, the day he arrived, he told us that he was resigning and going back to school to study. Hurray for me! 😦 Needless to say, my work at the school had increased. I had to stop going to the hospital and currently, I teach all the computer classes at the school. Almost every day, I’m at the school from 8am to about 7pm. Some afternoons, I head back home to eat lunch with my host family, but then I head back for evening classes. I’ve been doing this for over a month now, and I’m pretty exhausted. I’ve had to cancel some Friday classes because I just had to get out of site and relax in Kombo with the Peace Corps peeps.

For now, I’m hanging in there. If I don’t get a replacement counterpart soon, I know I’m going to burn out. The best thing I can do for myself at the moment is just skip some classes. It’ll force the school to find a replacement faster, and it will give me some breathing room. Term 2 is barely halfway through. Wish me luck on the 2nd half.

Merry Christmas from The Gambia…

Merry Christmas everyone! Tonight was a nice evening. Na welli no beta! At 7pm, a number of us went to the US Ambassador’s residence and had dinner in their backyard. Turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy, stuffing, tomatoes… add in some desserts and coffee. It was almost like another Thanksgiving dinner!

Afterwards, Adelle, Kelsey, Hannah, and I decided to venture off to Our Lady Star of the Sea Catholic Church in Bakau to listen to some Christmas carols and attend midnight Mass. It’s a small church right by the car park in Bakau, and very close to the fish markets. You can literally smell the fish lingering in the air. And it’s right by the water.

The carols were interesting. The choir sang songs in English as well as Wolof. When Mass started, the Irish priest (who knew how to speak Wolof by the way) did the regular Mass prayers… the standing and sitting and so forth. What made the service interesting, however, was the Wolof songs and music. (Now if they were English Christmas songs just translated into Wolof, I don’t know.) Throw in drum beats and other traditional instruments into the mix, and you have a recipe for a very unique African Christmas experience. They were definitely very cool to listen too. If you’ve ever watched the movie Power of One (it was originally a book by Bryce Courtenay) and listened to some of the songs in the movie and soundtrack, then you’ll understand what I’m talking about.

Tonight’s songs were just powerful. Plus, throw in the fact that it’s Christmas, it made me feel very good and happy inside.

Merry Christmas y’all…

Christmas Polvoron…

Tonight, I made Filipino polvoron for the first time. What is polvoron, you ask? The word polvoron is a Spanish word meaning powder or dust. In the Philippines, polvoron is soft and crumbly shortbread candy made of flour, sugar, milk powder, and butter. It was pretty easy to make. I just found a recipe online, and all the ingredients are easily accessible here in The Gambia.

Ingredients:
– 2 cups all purpose flour (sifted)
– 1 cup milk powder
– 1 cup granulated sugar
– 1 cup softened butter

Procedures:
– Put the flour into a pan or wok, and toast the flour over medium heat.
– Stir until slightly golden.
– Transfer the toasted flour into a mixing bowl and let the flour cool for 15-20 minutes.
– Add the rest of the ingredients to the bowl and mix well. Using hands works best.
– Either using a polvoron mold or cookie cutter, or your bare hands, shape the buttery flour mixture into cookies.
– Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Since it’s Christmas, I also added in some red and green food coloring to make it a little more festive.

It was fun to make, and when I shared it with the rest of the Peace Corps peeps, they loved it. I’m probably gonna make more tomorrow or on Christmas Eve (since half of it has already been eaten).

Cheers!

Polvoron01 Polvoron02 Polvoron03