About Me

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I hope I'm the right Scott Jorgensen that you are looking for.  

The professions and identities of some of my more illustrious namesakes include Scott Jorgensen the flyweight UFC fighter, Scott Jorgensen the podiatrist, and, more locally, there are two other Scott Jorgensen individuals in the Greater San Francisco Bay Aea, according to LinkedIN.

Well, if you read that whole paragraph, I bet that you know by now whether or not I am the Scott Jorgensen that you are looking for.

About the Gambia (Courtesy of Wikipedia)

The Republic of The Gambia, commonly known as The Gambia, or Gambia, is a country in Western Africa. The Gambia is the smallest country on mainland Africa, bordered to the north, east, and south by Senegal, with a small coast on the Atlantic Ocean in the west.

Its borders roughly correspond to the path of the Gambia River, the nation's namesake, which flows through the country's centre and empties into the Atlantic Ocean. Its size is almost 10,500 km² with an estimated population of 1,700,000.

On 18 February 1965, The Gambia was granted independence from the United Kingdom and joined The Commonwealth. Banjul is The Gambia's capital, but the largest conurbation is Serekunda.

The Gambia shares historical roots with many other west African nations in the slave trade, which was key to the maintenance of a colony on the Gambia river, first by the Portuguese and later by the British. Since gaining independence in 1965, the Gambia has enjoyed relative stability, with the exception of a brief period of military rule in 1994.

An agriculturally rich country, its economy is dominated by farming, fishing, and tourism. About a third of the population live below the international poverty line of US$1.25 a day

Monday, February 28, 2011

From the left, Stephanie, Baboucarr, Scott, and Emily, plus some kids who always seem to pop up everywhere.  We were dressed in traditional ceremony dress for our Naming Day celebration.

This is most of my gang of small boys in the village.  My brother Sarjo has the soccer ball and standing above him in the grey tan shirt is my other brother Ousman.  Small boys get into trouble unless you send them to do things like fetch water or go buy Attaya (green tea) from the bitik.

This is a small part of the Bakoteh Municipal Refuse site.  There are methane fires burning throughout the dump.  People say that it is a big improvement over how the place used to look.  Teaching myself how to litter has been an interesting process.  The village has grown around the dump, and even up to the fences, for some people earn a living by sifting through the trash and selling the valuable parts, others live by feeding the dump workers.  Be thankful that pictures don't transfer smells ; )

On a 25 km hike a few days ago we passed a village with amazing stencil and painting artwork, but I forget the village name.  This is only some of the artwork, it was really impressive.  Right now, I really dig Baobab trees.
These were my Language and Culture Facilitators, Baboucarr Sallah and Ida Keita!

I'm Still Alive!

Greeting from The Smiling Coast Of Africa!

Today I sit and update from the Peace Corps Office in Fajarra, due to my brief stay at the medical center for a spell of "reedu doga" or "running stomach".  Either way, I am definetly on the mend and should be released by tomorrow.  One benefit of this is that I finally have the ability to climb on the internet for more than 15 minutes and write a post.

During my almost two months in The Gambia, I find that my opinions and feelings about this place change greatly and rapidly from bewildered  to frustrated and anywhere in between.  I think that this is a result of being new here and jumping in as an alien to a new culture and language.  Almost every interaction is so different from American culture it is taking me time just to figure out what people regard as normal and common behavior.  This is particularly true in the marketplace where people agressively want you to buy things and haggling is encouraged, in the way that the two genders largely don't have contact with each other in public settings, and in the incredulous stares and flat refusal by many Gambians to sample a peanut butter/banana/chocolate sandwich that I make for a snack.  All in all though, I am very excited to be here, and have largely enjoyed my time thus far.  Public transportation and roadways are exhilirating and frenetic experiences, and although you need to shove to get a seat on the "gele gele" (the 10-16 person van) people are all very friendly and chatty once the ride has started.  I need to shove extra hard to find a seat that my legs fit in.

Here are my vital statistics:
I am called Bubakarr Bah.  In my training village, Yuna, I live in a family with 7 brothers and 2 sisters, one of whom i see regularly.  My family treats and feeds me very well and are awesome, welcoming people.  While my parents don't speak English, the older brothers do and the younger brothers are learning.  Bucket baths are delicious, especially when you leave a bidong full of water to heat up in the sun all day.  Pit latrines will never break unless they do so much that you fall in (I keep my fingers crossed, mine seems sturdy).  I have a gecko that lives in my ceiling and sings to me at night.

I have been living in the Fula village of Yuna.  This is my father, Kali Bah, my mother Raama tu Laahi Camara, and one of my brothers, Sarjo (the child born after twins is always named Sarjo, whether male or female).

This was my two room house in my family's compound.  The big tree behind my house is a mango.  Between the two buildings leads to the backyard where the sheep are kept at night (all livestock roams free here during the dry season).

In Yuna I went to school with two other Toubabs (white people) named Stephanie a.k.a. Fatumata Bah and Emily a.k.a. Yiali Bah.  I have had two different teachers of Pulaar, the language of the Fula people, while at Yuna, Babacarr Sallah and Ida Keita.  They are great teachers for Language and Culture and I feel that I am learning very fast.

Village life is not quiet.  Few cars have efficient mufflers, sheep are ornery, people shout greetings at each other from across the town, the mosque loudspeakers announce prayer time 5x a day, the donkeys call to each other at any hour and remind me of the Tuskan Raiders from Star Wars, somebody, somewhere is always drumming, and for the first month a group of boys marched around town at sunup and sundown, drumming and singing to fill their circumcision ceremony tradition. 

My pre-service-training is ending and I have already moved out of my training village and said goodbye to my family.  I want to post more pictures of them, but blogspot is not cooperating with the computer right now...

Tomorrow I will go to Wallalan, my permanent site for the next two years, for a 3 day visit.  I will meet my new family, the imaam, the alkaalo (town mayor) and other village notaries, and get a handle on that village.  I then travel back to headquarters for my swearing in ceremony.

There are many things to be written about, but I feel I am in a phase where I am still trying to figure out where things are and why things are the way they are here.  I have more pictures, at least, let me try another computer.