Recently I was approached by the abbott, Timothee, from the Catholic Mission in Pakour after we had discussed the potential of working together some months earlier. Timothee said that he wanted to work with me, but continually asked what I wanted to do on the grounds of the Mission. I had explain the fact that it wasn't up to me to decide what to work on; potential work partners come to me with ideas and then I help them start the projects. After a visit to my pepineer and a short discussion down at the Mission grounds we decided there was enough space in a fenced in area of the grounds to plant 5 guava trees and 3 cashew trees. For the trees that I have cared for and grown I have decided that selling them is a much better strategy than giving them away. If I give them away there's a chance they won't be cared for like their worth the time and effort that was put into them, and well I'm not selling them for very much at 100 CFA/tree (enough to buy a loaf of village bread in Senegal or about 20 cents USD).
I arrived on the arranged evening with the 5 guava trees and went to work demonstrating the techniques for outplanting a pepineered fruit tree. After completing the first outplanting, I stepped back and let the two resident abbotts, Timothee and Martin, along with my buddy, Moussa Diallo, and
Babacar, the grounds management worker at the Mission, do the rest. By the end of the evening we each had a tree named after its planter.
With a new seven-foot tall woven fence inside a wider area, shorter wire I was not the least bit concerned for the trees...as long as the doors were closed properly.
I had decided to put off completing their plantation for another week since my cashew trees were only just about 6 weeks old and the guidelines call for at least 6 but no more than 10 weeks in the pepineer before outplanting. Upon returning to the Mission only 6 days later I was greeted by bare twigs where leafy 2.5 foot guava trees once stood - GOATS!! I was upset to say the least. I made my irritation known in a roundabout fashion, as displaying frustration would not be culturally acceptable. Six and half months of care and work down the drain. Two ground-driven vertical logs braced the piece of fencing designed to slide open prohibited the fencing from sitting flush and had offered the perfect weakness. We finished outplanting the cashews and rearranged the fencing to sit more streamline.
I have since visited the Mission and I am happy to say the guava trees are all pushing out new leaves. Since the trees were old enough to have some hard wood, the goats were not interested in consuming them all the way to the ground. For now it looks like the trees will survive, but we all agreed that another attack like that would surely finish them off.
I hated goats before they attacked my guavas - constantly chasing them out of my compound with rocks following them close behind. Within a few nights of the attack, I was lying in bed and spied a goat that had gotten into the fenced-in area behind my hut consuming every last one of my trees. I arose with a start, banged my toe on the side of my bed, and, gasping for a breath, gazed out my back door. It was 2am, pitch black, and there wasn't a goat to be found...goat nightmares...Does Peace Corps health insurance cover PTSD?