It’s a Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood.

To my delight, the peanut, known as the groundnut in Sierra Leone is very common and eaten often.  I’m a peanut-head and enjoy them a little too much.  Groundnut stew is a local favorite, and although it is usually made with meat, Mohammed the cook made me a vegetarian version.  It is a thick stew with tomatoes, groundnut oil, crushed groundnuts and chilies, along with whatever meat and vegetables.  Groundnuts are usually bought raw, shelled, and left in the sun to dry before roasting in a pan.  The other popular way to have the groundnut is boiled in its shell.  Women walk around town with trays of boiled groundnut atop their heads to sell as a snack.  Boiled in their shell leaves the nut a shriveled, white pebble.  It is a different taste but I’ve grown to like it.

Groundnut drying in the sun.

Yum!

Another lover of the groundnut is my friend Billy.  He is a Senegalese surveyor who works with Al’s company.  Billy was recently home in Senegal for his vacation and, while away, I did some data input for him.  In gratitude, he brought me a traditional outfit from his village.  The shirt and pants are very colorful and also very large.  I believe the material is meant to be generous and airy because of how hot and dry the weather is in Senegal.  I’d like to think that I don’t look ridiculous in them, but I’m pretty sure I do.  Nonetheless, I am very grateful for the gift and love having something special from far away.

Billy, back to work.

My new outfit.

The rainy season is in all its glory but the day turned out fine with plenty of sunshine.  I couldn’t think of a better reason to bake some oatmeal raisin cookies and pass them around to the workers.  Oats are not uncommon and raisins, although a special item, can be found easily enough.  Still, every person looked at their cookie as if it were the strangest thing they’ve ever seen but ended up smiling after tasting it.

A sunny day in camp with the Nimini Hills looking down on us.

Passing out oatmeal-raisin cookies as an afternoon treat.

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