Sunday, September 21, 2008

I had a toothache... now I'm in Senegal.

I finally got to do a little more exploring of this continent, even though it wasn't planned.

We have great doctors here in the Peace Corps. They take your health and safety very seriously. I was having a toothache and was taken to visit a dentist in Conakry. He recommended a root canal, but Peace Corps did not authorize him to do it. (They have pretty high standards as far as what they allow done, who does it, and at what quality.) The closest dentist who was authorized to do it is here in Dakar, Senegal. So, I had to get on a plane and leave one developing nation to go to another developing nation to get it done.

I opted to have it taken care of ASAP because right now is Ramadan. Why does that matter, you ask? Well, Guinea has a predominant Muslim population and Ramadan entails (among many other things) a month of fasting. Fasting for them means they won't eat from the first call to prayer at about 5:00am until the call to prayer at about 7:00pm. This includes no water. Many people won't even swallow their saliva and spit frequently as result. Since it is pretty hot and living here requires quite a bit of manual labor, people get very tired and not much of anything can get done. So, in answer: I figured since I wouldn't be able to accomplish much work at site this month, I'd go ahead and get my tooth taken care of now.

I've been here in Dakar about 2 weeks and fly back tomorrow morning. The procedure itself went very smoothly. The dentist was amazing and I survived with only some minor discomfort. Getting a trip to Dakar out of the deal may sound cool, but was kind of a pain. I had to come by myself (w/o Dan - I've been away from him for almost 3 full weeks now!) and have had the annoyance of 9 dentist appointments. (Try scheduling in a root canal during your next vacation...) Add on to that limited money, extremely hot afternoons, the fact that they observe Ramadan here as well, and you get alot of down time to kill. But it has been fun trying to play tourist a little bit and interesting to see a new country. It definitely gave me a new perspective on West African life. I'm beyond ready to get 'home' though to Guinea.

I'll try to post some pictures of Dakar when I get back.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Some Guinean news

We made the BBC news.

The mayor, governer, and police chief of our town were busted for cocaine trafficking last week. You can read the story here:

Guinea drugs bust nets officials

Cocaine (File pic)

The governor, mayor and top police officials of a town in Guinea have been arrested in a drugs raid.
The officials from the northern town of Boke were taken to the capital, Conakry, for questioning.
An aircraft allegedly carrying a large quantity of cocaine mysteriously landed and took off early on Thursday in Boke.
The UN says Latin American drugs cartels are using West Africa as a transit point to smuggle huge quantities of cocaine to Europe.
The BBC's Alhassan Sillah in Conakry says the plane landed at Boke airport at 0400 local time on Thursday.
It was suspected to have come from neighbouring Guinea-Bissau, which observers warn is in danger of becoming a "narco-state".
In a separate raid on the same day, Conakry police and soldiers swooped on a truck, allegedly loaded with cocaine and cannabis.
Our reporter says the quantities of drugs seized have not been revealed.
The UN estimates that at least 50 tonnes of cocaine are shipped through the West African region every year. Story from BBC NEWS:

Published: 2008/09/05 09:14:29 GMT