Tuesday, December 21, 2010

souls like wheels

so i am home now. senegal is a whole ocean away from me and i'm not sure how to deal with that yet.
i could list every memory that i can think of that made me laugh smile puke cry and everything else but i think i will just let you know that senegal was the most beautiful time i have had in my short 21 years of life and living away from the people i love there makes my heart hurt.
i love you all i really do and thank you for letting me share such a huge piece of my heart

Friday, December 17, 2010


so amid all the endings goodbyes and fetes that we have been having i haven't posted very much. also i think i am trying to avoid it because so many beautiful things have happened in the past couple weeks that i just want to keep them in my brain and i know that writing about them won't do them justice.

we are done with school. i turned in a "research paper" (mostly reflection with only 3 sources) that was "6" pages long (5 3/5) and i got a 19.5/20 on my wolof exam!! i think it's cause im selling mame bineta my phone so she gave me a better grade.

i don't know what to explain really.
modou made me the COOLEST hippo out of metal/iron (iron work is his profession so it's pretty legit)

kira gave me a gnome that we named tukki (it means to travel in wolof) and he will go with me whenever i travel
i have a ton of weird bumps on my legs that i thought were mosquito bites but they are definitely not. the nice thing is that any weird maladies we get in the next 72 hours is really no big deal because we are going home where the diagnosis isn't always "climate change"

we have all found out that going home is harder than we could have imagined. we had our re-entry session where we talked about how to deal with being back in the states and everyone cried. that was 5 days before we were scheduled to leave. now i have 3 days. and gah. awesome. sob fest 10.

now i am going to the beach to avoid packing or thinking about anything except sunshine and wolof.

Monday, December 13, 2010

weddings and wolof

so bineta got engaged yesterday.

i was in my room studying for wolof last night around 10 and my niece Dior comes in and says "binetas getting married." i was just like um WHAT because i have literally never seen her and her boyfriend (who is awesome so it doesnt really make sense) touch or make eye contact for more than 37 seconds.
but anyway i run out of my room and into our living room and just yell really obnoxiously how happy i am and i run up and give her a hug. mind you all the terrifying women of ouakam are in there and see this but i didnt really care, and bineta actually looked really happy and stood up and hugged me so that was nice.
so then my mom says some things about god and marriage and mohammad (finace) and i just smile and nod and then she says oh and its on friday. cool. this is ironic because nothing ever happens quickly in senegal except for binetas marriage apparently.
but the reception isnt until two months from now so i'll miss the fun unfortunately.


(come on hilary)

also i just took my wolof exam and i ended up getting really annoyed at my prof for being a jerk so i dont think i passed.

c'est la vie

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

i just poured my sheep soup (dinner) into our pet sheep's bowl thing (i ate by myself so i snuck outside to do so). technically i think that's canibalism but also i am annoyed at sheep for tasting so bad so i think its ok.

tomorrow is our last day of class. it's insane. my last class of wolof ever. that is actually sad for me.
soppnaa jang ci wolof
soppnaa bind ci wolof
soppnaa wax ci wolof

soppnaa soppnaa soppnaa

also there is this huge arts festival that senegal is having which is cool but also annoying. the power goes out a million times more than it did before and there are rumors that its because of this festival. in theory the festival is cool but i think wade should start taking care of his people first and then put on a festival after everyone gets some food and clean water that will bankrupt the country even more.

so as to not end this post on a mauvais note....i found out that carlos's real name is gorgui and that he was born in 1955 and that he is named carlos because he like carlos santana. duh.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010


so i got to school two hours early today so i could work on a paper i have due on monday.

instead i downloaded christmas music and listened to my favorite ones on repeat for 2 hours.
at the same time i am trying not to think about going home.
i dont want to write that much because when i do i realize what little time i have left and i get sad.

i cooked again for the family on sunday cause carlos wanted to taste the mac and cheese and he really liked it. again why i love him so much.
also on saturday night i came home super late and he opened the door for me and was wearing one my moms serongs. something happened to him in mecca i think....hehe

Thursday, December 2, 2010

meat mound

so i did it again.
we were eating dinner the other night and my yaay decided it was a good idea to have cartilage for dinner. no joke. sheep cartilage.
here is a fact: you cant chew cartilage with your tooth nor can you cut it with a knife; therefore it should not be consumed (in my opinion)
luckily for me, the power was out so i would casually bring my hand up to my mouth and spit out the cartilage and put it between my feet. hence the title meat mound. i got up and just cupped my hands together (with the meat) and said merci beaucoup neexna!! and just looked like i was cheering. whoops.

last night natalie and i went downtown (on a school night what up!!) with 2 of our friends and that was a good time. at point she burped my name on accident instead of just speaking like a human. then she slept over and watched glee. it's the little things you know?

oh and also centre ville (downtown) is decorated for christmas. really its just one little store front but regardless.....they have christmas lights.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010


today is december 1.

i am spending it listening to billy play guitar in or wolof classroom while bmoore and kate practice for a pronunciation exam.

i spent the whole of sante publique drawing snowmen christmas trees and playing tetris.
jangkat laa. (i am a student)

Monday, November 29, 2010

dragon slayers

so needless to say this was a beautiful thanksgiving season for me.

thursday night suffolk put on a fete for all the students.
in true american fashion, we got there at 7pm (exactly when the party was supposed to start) because we wanted to make sure we got turkey. in true african fashion...the food didnt come out until maybe 830 or 9. lawlz

it was unlike any thanksgiving i have ever had. mainly because there was club music bumpin drinks flowin and many different languages spoken. oh and a ton of food.
the only things really missing were stuffing and cranberry sauce. but there was mac and cheese and plantanes and grapefruits with olives and "meat" stuck inside them with toothpicks. everything was still so good.

the night ended with modou and i going to a bowling alley. and then i kicked his butt in air hockey. how romantic. happy thanksgiving to all and to all a goodnight.

the next day we left for st. louis, our last trip as a ciee group together.
we drove to the lompoul desert and spent the afternoon to evening romping around on huge sand dunes, somersaulting (later regretting that idea) down the dunes, riding camels and living la vie tranquille in the sand. we slept in these amazing tents that look like arabian herdsmen tents with lanterns hanging on the front of each one. we lay under the stars for a long term and laughed and danced around a fire and played drums and ate good food. the desert life is the life for me.

the next day we drove to see some birds. it was cute and all but literally we were in the bus for like 3 hours and we saw some pelicans flying in a circle. sorry if i sound ungrateful, i'm not but it was just really sweaty.

after that we drove to st louis. its very french colonial looking hence the name and all. we stayed in a really lovely auberge by the water and had BRICK OVEN PIZZA for dinner. talk about luxury. i bought a piece of art for 5000 cfa which is $10 and i spent a lot of time convincing myself that was ok because it is only the 2nd thing i have bought here and it was a local artist and balbalbla....im stingy.
we went out later that night and saw some live music and roamed the city. at one point a few of us were sitting out on a dock type thing and some senegalese men came up and started doing tricks on their mopeds. it was weird and funny because....youre riding a moped. not that b.a. if you know what i mean.

also my dad (carlos) is home from mecca. he was SO happy to see me and i was SO happy to see him! it was the nicest greeting when i came home last night. my yaay seemed legitimately delighted to see me and she said that they missed me all weekend and my dad just kept saying its nice to be back and he was laughing and giddy and i loved my family at that moment.

i would like to watch love actually and drink hot chocolate and eat pumpkin pie while i read a book by the fire. but that can wait. because i have 3 weeks to be in this country that i love with people i love and i am blessed to be able to do that.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

yellow shirts

it is 90 degrees right now.
happy thanksgiving to the world (in a few hours).

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

i'm slacking. shawry

i am feeling the aftermaths of Tabaski. meaning i am eating sheep intestines. not only the intestines, but everything that you would think people don't truly want to eat. senegalese are big on tradition, so i could ask why the heck do you eat the bladder of a sheep? they would say "d'habitude de faire ca" which means thats just the way it is. ah ok well great. sheep stomach for dinner it is.

i finally got my motorcycle ride through the city of dakar. i felt like i was on the nimbus 2000 but my friend who i was with, modou, probably wouldnt have understood the reference so i just smiled a lot and kept it to myself. but we flew down the corniche and my hair was whipping around and the lights were just little flicks in the corner of my eyes and the ocean was right next to us and i dont think i will ever top that ride.

dad should be home from mecca any day and boy are we preparing for it. we have a tower of soda ready to go, bags and bags of rice, two HUGE bottles of oil, huge bags of onions and all les choses comme ca. it looks like december 31, 1999 if you get the joke there.

we have a thanksgiving party coming up which we are all really excited about. i asked cherif if he was going because all the students at suffolk are invited, he said no way it would be boring and i told him he was crazy and thanksgiving is so fun! but then he said ok fine explain it....ok so maybe its bizarre. i told him i understood his point and i walked away in defeat. i figure i could have explained it was a time to be with family and think about all the things you were thankful for, but in the shadow of tabaski i figured i will let him win that argument.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

so that happened....

yesterday was Tabaski. For senegal it is close to christmas.
let's just say....i miss christmas.

I woke up around 9am just like a good senegalese should on such a holiday, put on a wrap that went to my ankles just to be safe and walked into the backyard.
tabaski is a holiday where you eat all day so people get going on the food pretty early. 
i asked bineta if i could help with anything. she said no. then i asked my yaay who has been liking me lately. she said bien sur! and got me a bowl of big carrots and a peeler. i sat down with it and bineta looks at me and asks if i know how to use a peeler. thanks sis love you too.

so 10am rolls around and ousseynou says ok we are killing them now.
let me tell you about tabaski.
every family buys a mouton (sheep) and its a huge deal. some families buy one and some buy up to eight. also the sheep can cost anywhere from 30,000-100,000 cfa (500=$1)
so people save basically all year for this holiday, they buy their sheep get them fat and then slaughter them in the backyard.
so to do this, you dig a hole that is in the direction of mecca, and then you saw (not slice, this is important, its sawing) the sheeps throat so that the blood runs towards mecca into this hole. then you proceed to skin it, go psycho on the body with a machete and eveyone enjoys fresh mouton for breakfast lunch and dinner with snacks in between.

so just like any other muslim family the slaughter began and i got to watch it all. little gruesome. like i said, i miss christmas. but at the same time it was really cool to actually see the whole cycle of how the food gets onto your plate...something we dont see in the states.
but also sheep are not good. its like the fattiest meat i have ever eaten slash you can't find meat on the bones.
the testicles were sitting in a bowl ready to be eaten but he havent gotten to them yet. also there was some kind of meat that was wrapped in intestines that apparently we grill at some point soon. we will be eating sheep for days.

happy holidays everyone.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

back to city life

so we are home again.
back from one week in the brush as they say.

some of this is a journal entry

we are in Nguethie (engage-ch)
we are with peace corp volunteers (PCV) lauren and alex

 the ride to get here was fairly easy. we snagged a sept place (7 seat taxi) from downtown that went to mbour and then from mbour we grabbed one to the village. i say this was easy and in relative terms it was but anyone who is not familiar with the system would probably have a heart attack. the garres where you get a car is more than insane and people just grab and pull you around. all in the name of fun.
the best part of the trip was when we veered off the road and drove through nothing. there was a "road" but really it looked the drived had no idea where he was going and we just drove through dessert. it was a hoot.
but finally we make to the village of nguethie safe and sound.
i soon find out that i am staying in the house of a 4 time olympic wrestler Ambrose Salle and he is now the coach of the Senegalese national wrestling team and he is chief of the village and he has a pet pig named simon that is the biggest pig i have ever seen.

the village life is sweet so chill and so lovely. we slept on a concrete floor with a floor mat under us, the first night we hung a mosquito net by candle light. there were ladders involved. it was quite the spectacle.

the language of the village is sereer but people also speak wolof and french so that was nice that we could still communicate with people and also learn some new stuff.

some of the activities we did included:
building a fence for lauren's future garden (she is an agroforestry volunteer so her projects have to do with those kinds of things)
we painted a mural of senegal on the wall of a classroom
went kayaking through mangroves and the slept on the beach (best part for sure) 
planted mangrove seeds
climbed inside a baobab tree and drank coffee inside
harvested rice

one night we cooked dinner for the family that two of our guys were staying with. we made omelets and fries because thats about all we could make with food that was in the village. it went well i think if you forget about the bugs that accidentally got in the eggs and the fact that the power went out halfway through cooking making it hard to flip eggs or see how done the fries were.

while we were camping-we went with 2 guys that worked with our PCVs- we heard some kind of animal howling and so we asked one of the guys pierre, we said (in sereer) what animal is that? pierre responds :jackals
we say: oh cool....are they close?
pierre: they are here
 ....ah yes good well alright.

also the water that we camped on was bio-luminescent. SO COOL. so when it was really dark we went in and splashed around and these little lights danced all around our feet. lovely.

one of the conversations we had at laurens house was with this guy louis. louis liked to try to speak english and he loved drawing things in the sand. didnt matter if it was a word a map or anything he would bend down and draw it in the sand. so we were talking about climate (this is a huge conversation starter in senegal. everyone loves the climate talks) and we told him it snowed in the us already and then he said wow. there must be a lot of babies. and we said...what. and then he said people just have sex during the winter when it snows because you can't leave your house. we then gently corrected his ideas of what snow and winter mean. we tried to make it g rated and say you just curl up and drink hot things and read and sit by the fire and play in the snow. he didn't really seem to understand. but whatever. to each her own.

so then on the way home we took another sept place but really it was a ten place because there were 10 people...not seven. we did the whole off roading thing again and i was sitting by the window. i dozed off and woke up to rain. i thought how strange, there are no clouds. what i failed to realize before i got into the car was that there was a sheep on top. i was getting peed on. we still had a good 5 hours left in our trip. awesome.

now fast forward to yesterday.
i called this day fall jubilee.
my friend billy got a package from him mom and we were about to have a meeting for cipfem when he opened it. not even kidding there was pumpkin bread, chocolate chip cookies and then another chocolate peanut butter thing. billy, bless his soul, shared it with all 10ish people in the meeting. we went crazy. people were dancing, laughing and just eating eating eating. we were so happy and we finally felt like we got to experience and little bit of fall. it was glorious.

everything here is glorious.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

to the country

hey hey hey

I am leaving now.
I am heading up north to the Fatick region of Senegal.
I am staying with a peace corps volunteer and we are working in environmental education.
I shall be gone until next saturday so no posts until then.
I'm sure that there will be lovely stories to tell.
I will also be planting mangroves which reminds me of mandrakes from harry potter and i am so excited for that.

i love and think of you all often

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

so many things

so sorry about the delay as usual....we had a four day weekend so i didn't get a chance to write.
so many things happened this weekend and my head is full of thoughts.

friday:  suffolk threw a pool party for halloween at this club type place on friday night. halloween is funny here because a.) i totally forgot it was happening and b.) its like 90 degrees still so its not like you are walking around on crisp leaves and a frosty ground. you just sweat through whatever you wear. but anyways, a ton of people went to this party and all the toubabs wore clothes for a pool party so things like swimming trunks for the guys and all the girls wore our swimsuits under dresses and just casual clothes. whoops. all the suffolk students took the party very seriously and wore legit costumes and looked awesome. if they werent wearing costumes they looked super fresh and we looked like idiots. but it was fine because cherif threw me in the pool anyways so my everything i had was soaking. it turned out to be SO MUCH FUN. we just played in the pool for hours and ate good food and talked to people and everything was wonderful. school parties here are so far from lame and they are my favorite. a few of us went to a friends house after wards and we watched mtv....i forgot about that kind of thing but we ended coming home at 7am. it was awkward and bright outside. heheheh happy halloween!

it was our friend emma's birthday on friday so on satruday we went sea kayaking!! it was perfect. senegal is awesome too because they had a pile of life jackets but we didnt actually have to wear them and everyone knows that life jackets ruin a perfectly good tan line. so we paddled on the ocean for a good hour and it was sunny and warm but the water was cool so again-perfection.

another halloween party. this time it was on the roof of a student who also lives in ouakam. we grilled fish listened to music and had a great time mingling more senegalese with american folk. i'm telling you, every casual party here always turns out to be so much more fun than you ever thought it would . it wasnt like anything super exciting happened, it was more just being with people that you like so much that made it so fun.

hey ps. i live in a muslim family. did you know that? cool because WOW. so i wake up on monday around 930 and i hear a ton of people in my house. i planned to get up but i didnt really feel like being made fun of for my lack of wolof so i fell back asleep only to wake up at 1130. bad idea. i put on this simple cotton dress i love and walk out the door. ohhhhh boy. between the jaay fondees and praying men you cant move anywhere. i go find my mom and she looks at me. doesnt say hi. just looks and then grabs this skirt off the clothesline and wraps it around my waste and then pushes me away. partially my fault because i forgot that my bare shins are a cesspool of sinful lust. good morning to you too family. oh also. this party is happening because my dad left for mecca today for a month. it was his goodbye party. so i make my rounds, get accused for not being culturally sensitive because i dont know every word in wolof, get a few marriage offers, asked about my nose ring, told how ugly it is and then go hang out with the kids who for the most part dont care if i cant speak wolof. people ended staying at my house until at least midnight. it was unbelievable. everyone ate lunch and dinner there too. i have never seen so many bowls of ceebu jen in my life. but it was tasty and then we drank ginger juice. YUM everything was yum.

so it was a busy weekend. and now carlos is in mecca and i miss him. but its just going to be the ndoye women for the next month....party on garth.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

last night was just full of intimidating folk chez ndoye. (chez ndoye means the ndoye household)

every wednesday a few of us students go to a school in ouakam to work with a big group of young girls after they get out of school. we do art, play games, work on public speaking, writing and things like that. we are working on trying to help these girls become strong, confident and awesome young women. in the Senegalese school systems, participation is not part of school. the teacher does most/all of the talking therefore, a lot of students, mostly girls are terrified of speaking up or getting in front of groups. its fun to help them be brave and realize that its not so hard to speak up.
soooo i get hope from citfem as it is called and i am later than usual but its only like 730pm or so. there is a woman in the back who is i think my great aunt. i have it under good authority that all african women over 60 are terrifying. beautiful and awesome, but terrifying. she says rokaya ca va? and then "why were so late today?" and i told her i was working with an ngo and i walked home so i was a little late today. she then proceeds to ask me what i did with the girls and how that made me late....uhh cool. i find myself having to explain myself a lot here, i cant do that well in english let alone french. later on she said, "rokaya, i'm thirsty." and when i didnt understand that i was supposed to go fill up her water bottle for her she was not happy with me.
then....i met the REAL rokaya ndoye. she is my dad's sister. i had no idea she existed. but she comes in and she asks my name and it goes like this:
naka nga tudd? (what is your name?)
-maangi tudd rokaya ndoye (my name is rokaya ndoye-this is me talking)
-deedeet maangi tudd rokaya ndoye (no, my name is rokaya ndoye)
je suis le deuxieme rokaya? ( i am the second rokaya)

i get a little laugh out of that so that was good but then my mom was like yes youre the second but youre much prettier than her, she's old and youre young and beautiful.
...i think the real rokaya hates me. thanks mom.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

c'est frois quoi

just thought i should let you all know.

it is 249 am in senegal africa right now and i woke up because I WAS COLD. i have my fan on and i am about to go turn it off.

write this one down the history books folks. it's a big deal

apparently, sanguuma

this means that i dont shower.
this phrase is untrue (at least in senegal); however, sama yaay (my mom) is telling all the other host moms that i dont shower so thats cool. a few students and i have really gossipy moms who get together and talk about us. my problem is that i dont shower. i would like to explain that i shower like 75% more here than i do at home. its just that i shower when i wake up (moms asleep) and i shower when i go to bed (moms asleep). how is that a real thing to gossip about i mean come on now.

so that among other things is what i have been experiencing this past week.
i am feeling so at home here and i am so happy. i think ive said that before but i just feel so content right now. i have gotten to the point where i will be walking around ouakam or mermoz and people will say ahh sarah ca va?? its fantastic and i love my friends here.

this past friday some friends and i planned the perfect day and we called it THE PERFECT DAY OF ALL DAYS...or at least i did.
we spent the whole day at la plage verage and chilled hard on the beach, swam in the waves et les choses comme ca. we all quick went home to change and shower (notice...shower) and then we went downtown for a hip hop concert by this guy dj awadi. it was INCREDIBLE. the music was amazing, people were moving and it was glorious. awadi was wearing this bright orange tunic with jeans and i just thought how cool that this man can be one of the best rappers in senegal and be wearing a tunic and not some shiny labels. WAY TO GO SENEGAL. oh it was just so great.
after the concert there was a party at suffolk that was called "icebreaker" but we didnt play stupid name games or anything we all just hung out and talked and there was more dancing and it was great to hang out with and get to know more senegalese students. so that day was perfect.

here is a funny thing that happened (besides the fact that my uncle keeps hitting on me and gets angry/upset when i hang out with other guy friends)
my mom went to a boutique (little corner shop) and got this powder. she was mixing in a bowl with a little water and i though YES we are eating mafe for lunch. mafe is a traditional dish that is kind of like a peanut sauce over rice with some other goodies and it is my favorite. so she was mixing and mixing what looked like a peanut paste....but then she started putting it in her hair. ha whoops. i realized quickly that was not lunch. she also put it on her toenails. i didnt ask about it just in case it was a personal thing.

also one of the highlights so far...
yesterday after school some ciee students and i went to this little school for kids with disabilities. a lot of them have polio and can't walk and a few seem to have some cognitive disabilities as well. but i loved this so much because we were just there to give them some attention and i havent been around kids for a while so it was great. another reason it was great was because i could actually talk to them. all the time in mexico i say like 2 word sentences and for the most part i make no sense and cant really communicate. but here i can! whooo it was awesome. we played cache cache which is hide and go seek. we would wheel the kids to their hiding place (they all wanted to hide together) and we would spin them around on this merry go round type thing they have and everything was great and i just felt so alive when i was with them. the kicker was at the end we went over to this lime tree and picked a TON of limes and then realized that the kids make their treat by sqeezing the limes into a cup and putting about 5 sugar cubes in an inch of lime juice. here is how you know youre not in the states: one kid grabbed this huge butcher knife to start cutting the lime and we asked one of the workers if she knew the boy had the knife and she just said oh yeah its fine...........
its so cute though because all the kids know our schedule and i said see you monday! and they said no friday! so i guess i will also be there on fridays from now on : )

so life marches on here in senegal. we are about to do our rural visits and everyone is really excited for that. carlos is going to mecca for a month which is actually a huge deal. we are redoing the entire house for his return so construction is going on all the time. i love the workers though and they love saying things in wolof and hearing me answer with the right answer 87% of the time.

also i finally bought fabric and i finna make some sweet dresses.

love you all

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

cultural sensitivity

so this post is not really relevant to life but i thought it was interesting.

almost everyday on my way to school i see these white army-ish guys. except really i feel like i stepped out of a YMCA music video because they are always wearing this insanely tight uniform. it is your typical army camo but here is the kicker: the shorts are booty shorts. not kidding. and i dont understand who these people are. they just walk around ouakam in these skimpy army uniforms lookin a fool.

also i only have 8 weekends left here. blerg

i promise i will post something more substantial later

Thursday, October 14, 2010

duh innernet

so internet is not working on the little ole mac so this weekend i will most likely be absent.
dont worry i will still take my malaria pillz.

i had a wolof exam today. i studied for the first time and now i feel like i am actually a bit more decent at wolof and thats nice because oh wait thats what everyone speaks here. way to be culturally sensitive sarah.

also here is you senegal story of the day:
my friend katlyn sent me a package (bless her soul she is beautiful)
so my friend aileen agrees to go get it with me because we all know being alone downtown is not your best idea
so we snag a cab he says he knows where the post office is (mind you there are three downtown) and he drops us off at la poste finances. we say no this is incorrect. but also we dont actually know where the other one is so we cant tell him how to get there so we get out.
we go inside and ask and they say oh yeah its just around the corner!
cool! or so we naive little girls think because we get there and have an extended conversation about the name of the post office with this guy who is just very unhelpful. we leave and end up meeting these two baye fall (hippie-ish sect of islam) who help us find it. one walks us all the way to the poste which we think is the right one. he is being especially friendly but not too weird and then we finally get to the "right one" but no its the wrong one again and so he walks with us a little ways more and finally we make it to these doors that are singing to us. we walk in and they look at us like we are idiots and then say they are closed. we are hot sweaty and very annoyed. but our new friend just says ehh just come back tomorrow. cool because i love spending money on taxis to get here. and then he happily says bye and bonne journee which is nice because he didnt ask for money and so he gets an A+ in our "senegalese male encounters" book.

and that was that. still no package but its in dakar and so am i and i will have that box.
good day to you all

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

maybe an average day?

today i finished a 5 page paper. let me tell you, africa has messed with my mind. I was acting like a 5 year old all day complaining about how i had nothing to write about, i didnt like my topic, the whole paper is too broad anyway blablabla. i am in for a SICK reality check when i go back to hope. also this is my only paper until finals. hehe whoops.

also i got letters today from 2 lovely women: kate davelaar and amandalbarnett. they were lovely and they made me smile from oreille to oreille.

but yeah other than that....it really was an average day.
i presented my family tree in wolof (i pretended everyone on the bast side was a teacher because i didnt know how to say the other professions like uncle mike for example....i cant even say his profession in english)
i got jipped 25cfa on the car rapide but i was too tired to fight for it (its about 5 cents)
some more old women got mad at me for who knows what
there was a mini flash flood
and i finished a jar of applesauce.

also my glands are feeling better so thats nice. but i had a dream my friend here thomas was selling all the ciee students as slaves and i woke up sweating and i think my glands reacted to that in a negative fashion.

Monday, October 11, 2010

get on the waiting list dude

today is a sick day.
i woke up with swollen glands and i am pretty sure a fever but it's hard to tell when you are sweating all the time anyways. my yaay swears it is the climate change from mbour to dakar....i said maybe but we all know your glands dont swell just because you travel 60km away from your home. thanks anyways woman.
being sick in africa is simply not enjoyable let me tell you.

on a lighter note...last night the family tailor came over with my uncle ousseynou and they were both fairly drunk so they were very chatty with me. the tailor started talking in wolof and ousseynou translated for me into french that he wants me to marry him. i laughed and said oh no thank you. the tailor says that i have to. i say no i dont. my mom says "why wont you marry him? whats wrong with him?" (thanks for the help ma) and i say he is too old for me. wrong answer. he FLIPS OUT and is literally angry with me and says he is only 26 and the reason i wont marry him is because i dont like "the blacks." cool yeah lets have that conversation because that makes sense. i told him it wasnt because of that and i do in fact love what he calls "the blacks. " it was such a stupid conversation but the key is to not get annoyed. i told him i have a long list of men who want to marry me and it wouldnt be fair to him. then my dad asked me how many and i jokingly said 18. again wrong answer. i got a lecture on how i am here to learn and study not for romance. cool because now things are getting awkward. anyways...i finished by telling the tailor i simply love another. he asked who it was, i said none of your business and then he left in a cloud of anger.
then my dad looks at me and says in wolof "he left because of her" thanks dad. i actually understood that sentence. go get yourself a new tailor.


Saturday, October 9, 2010

home again home again

i never want to leave senegal. i already know this so i think i will stay.

not much to tell here.
i am tan. i have infected mosquito bites all over my ankles that are oozing some kind of yellow liquid. but i am happy.

we spent the week in mbour which is a small town about 1 1/2 hours south of dakar (4 if you are actually driving in senegal and not just talking about it because the traffic is so bad you cant move)

our house was right on the beach so our days consisted of waking up...eating bread and "coffee" on our outdoor deck/living area, going to the beach until lunch. and then being creepily watched and hit on non stop by senegalese men. we learned that if you swim way far out and then just float or tread water they leave you alone because they cant swim. SCORE
so then we would eat lunch and go back out to the ocean aftwerwards and see how long we can last without being attacked by men.

it was in every sense a vacation. at least until some kids pooped in the ocean and watched it float right next to my face.

although when we talked about it...we realized it was still very much senegal. we lost power everyday sometimes it was so hot at night that no one could sleep and we all just woke up the next day looking like sweaty zombies. also we lost water for a whole day so add stinky to that zombie description and the flies were eating our open sores from mosquitoes.

but as they say: "c'est senegal!"

Thursday, September 30, 2010


i did a bad thing.
but also in the long run it was really ok.

after my day with cherif (fear not i will explain that) i came home around 8 at night and i think yaay was pissed at me because i didnt tell her i would be so late ( i also didnt bother to tell her i was with a beautiful man hence the lateness) so i was served dinner alone. i was fine with it but it was french fries on a bed of fried and oily onions and that chunk of fat that has a little meat on it. so i was eating by candlelight because of course the power was out and i just thought i really cant eat this fat. i just cant do it today. so because i was alone i ran into my room, grabbed a plastic bag and being extremely stealth, put the meat in the bag, tied it and then put the meat under my bed. i brought it to school the next day and then threw it away.
sarah-1 - meat fat-0
(except actually its like sarah -1 meat fat 7)

ok so my day with cherif.
he waited for me to get out of class and then asked if i still wanted to go surfing. i said HECK YES I DO. so then he took me to his "secret" beach where he surfs with his bros all the time. and i got to meet all of them and then we drank tea and looked like a bunch of surf bums. except he took one look at the waves and said no way. the weather had been bad all day so they were pretty big and he said he would rather i not die the first time i try to surf so there was no surfing but i am alright because he said as soon as we can go we will go.
so we hung out with these friends for a little, i impressed them with my wolof and then cherif and i went for a walk along some rocks looking for sea urchins. we found some...did you know they breathe/move?? sick. they are sick. but it was cute.
then we decided to walk to the other side of this point we were on and we watched surfers and talked and talked and talked. we talked about everything. what we like to do, favorite foods, simple living, surfing, books, music everything. it was fantastic. also the sun kept hitting him at just the right angle and sometimes i think he was glowing.
we started walking home around 7ish and it was SO hot and then he randomly stopped at this boutique to get a coffee and i told him he was crazy because hello i am losing all my body's supply of water out of my pores and he said no no it doesnt matter how hot it is just think about how good the coffee is. its so good and that makes you forget how hot you are. words of wisdom i tell you. what a gem
after 4 perfect hours i went home....hid the fat under my bed and then experienced the best windstorm of my life. i went up to the roof but then i realized that the electrical wires were moving a little more than i would like them too so i went back down.

also i am leaving for fall break. so i wont be writing until next saturday/sunday/monday because we are going to a town called mbour and traveling around a bit. ok so love you all bye.

oh also this is what i wrote in my journal this morning:
"you know you probably have malaria when you find 4 mosquitoes inside your net when you wake up and they are all full of blood when you kill them"

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

just another average day.

except nope. not at all.

this morning i woke up...trekked through the house to get to the bathroom and opened the door to go outside when I stumbled across our pet sheep who apparently came untied during the night. he was sitting right in front of the door, which reminded me of my dog fiona because she conveniently sits in the worst places possible. anyways i stand and look at the sheep for about two minutes and decide what to do (they have been known to ram people with their horns because they have large horns). so i decide to grab one of these large horns to coerse it away from me. nope. don't do that. it "baaad" at me and then jerked its head back. then i decided to yell wolof words at it. then french. then it worked and it stood up stretched and mozied away from the door.

good morning world .

toubab dialaw was wonderful. a perfect mini vacation with beach sun sand surf seashells sunburn and all that. we were lounging hard in hammocks and on lounge chairs that overlooked the ocean. also (plug for eco friendly living) the "hotel" we were at is run on solar power and they do a lot of conservation work with water and so on and so forth. i was a fan needless to say.

yesterday we had our first language club meeting (this is what i have my partner cherif for) and it was so fun cause a few ciee students just sat in a circle under some palm trees talking with suffolk students and balblaa it was great.
cherif lives in ouakam so he said he would go home with me (no mom, not in that way) so cherif 2 other people and myself walked home/took a car rapide. cherif and i got to talk a lot and he is not only stunningly gorgeous but he also has a great mind so COOL i am in love with my language partner.
also he has a moped. and you've got to be kidding me. he is taking me for a ride soon.
and today we are going surfing. it is my first surf lesson and we are going back to ngor to do so.
all my dreams are coming true in one day.

Friday, September 24, 2010

"he's on vacation"

sometimes i think my yaay drinks when no one is watching.
for example today.
i come out of my room or into the house whatever and she throws her hands in the air and yells "ROKAYA NDOYE" (my full senegalese name)and she just laughs and laughs and i dont know why but i laugh too and everything is nice that way.

also tomorrow we are going to a tropical getaway called toubab dialaw. its one of our ciee excursions and literally we are just chilling hard on a beach for 2 days

so what im saying is i will see you in 2 days and i will be tan hopefully.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

surfing gnifrus

so we have finally found our language partners. good day. our partners are suffolk students who ciee (americans) students get paired with to practice speaking french wolof and english. it was a mad rush to get partners. this is literally how it happened:

eli (suffolk) students were sitting on one side of the room. ciee students were on the other side. the girl leading the group, therese, said "ok get up and find a partner. GO" cool because i felt like cattle being herded around the room but it was also exhilarating with people grabbing everyone and trying to find a partner they liked. it was the kind of thing where if you make eye contact with someone you are most likely his or her partner. so i made eye contact with this guy a few people away he held out his hand, i grabbed it and he pulled me towards the front of the room.
i am not upset.
let me tell you about cherif.
he is a former model.
he doesnt check his email that often because he is "surfing at the beach whenever he has free time" but i can call him anytime.
he speaks perfect english, so he really doesnt need me but we are still partners.
he is going for a law degree (hint to greenhouse girls)

also he is going to teach me how to surf and we are going to have our language meetings on a surfboard sometimes. 
he found an opportunity to lift up his shirt and show me the kind of scars i could potentially get. again....i was not upset.
so maybe i will learn to speak a little more french and wolof or maybe i will be a pro surfer by the time i come home.
also if you were to look up the definition of chiseled it would be: cherif diagne, sarah holbrook's language partner

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

take a look

i know this is really small so sorry but this is a panoramic picture of our secret island. if you can see, there is a storm coming in on the right and to the left there is still blue sky. we got to watch the whole thing.

magic i tell you.
fred weasley would be proud

pine sap

i have officially become a sap.
and good things, i mean really good and lovely things are making me cry and i don't know what's happening to me.

examples/ how i realized this:
the other day our director gave me a packet of good earth tea. (only my favorite kind no big deal that it was in senegal)
i made it with my baguette this morning and it was so good and smelled so spicy and was the essence of tastiness that i started to tear. just me and the tea at seven in the morning.

my friend brian sent me a song. it was really lovely = tears

abby leigh bok my best friend in the whole world wrote me the most wonderful letter and i cried and had to leave the room because i looked a fool.

we went to an artists village and there was art hidden in trees and on walls and in the dirt and everywhere you looked and it was so secret but beautiful. hence the water works.


Tuesday, September 21, 2010

since it's valentines day and all...

the other night i was coming home from a friends house pretty late at night so i figured the fam would be asleep when i came back. but as i got closer to my house i saw just the cutest little scene. carlos and mamma were sitting outside the front door and it looked like they were having a nice little after hours date. their chairs faced each other and their knees were almost touching. and of course...carlos had his ciggy.
it was nice and i think my parents love each other a lot. and carlos always calls mamma 'madame' and they always giggle (or hack if its mom who is laughing) together.

so maybe the next day or so i find myself at home alone with my mom and we are sitting in the hallway (but really just sitting on the floor next to the front door in the hallway...yet another reason i love this place). we talked about random things like how my eyes actually are blue and not fake, how to say colors in wolof, where the rest of her family is (morocco and spain) and things like that. then she asked me why i'm not married. ha. hope college? is it you?
i told her that for the most part 21 is a young age to be married and she said she understood and then asked me why i wasnt engaged/ in a relationship. i wanted to tell her i have a huge list going with my best friends as to why that is but i didnt know how to say 'lack of overall hygiene and femininity' in french. so i told her my other real reason which is i think i am too independent for a guy at the moment. i told her i want to travel and see the world and meet people from everywhere and wander for a while before i get married and settle down. she said that it was a good thing and that she was ok with it (thank goodness for the approval). she then said she thinks i will be just fine because i can live in senegal and i live simply so i will be able to live anywhere.
and she said the sweetest thing, "you have a spirit like the wind."

Monday, September 20, 2010


uncle dave. if you're reading this good because here is something fun.
the computer guy/teacher/techie is you just a little more tan.
it's awesome and i would love to tell him but i think that wouldn't translate as well as i would like it to in french.
i don't want to sound like a creep but you share the same smile and walk and attitude.

so don't worry. i have family everywhere i go.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

secret garden

"it looks like the secret garden and we think its magical and full of mystery and good thoughts"

i wrote this while i was on an island on friday that actually was the secret garden. but i guess also it could be the secret island.

justine natalie rebecca kayla and myself decided to go to l'ile ngor on friday, to get there we got on a janky bus called the (or what sounds like) a jagon jy. we didn't exactly know how to get to this beach we wanted to get to but we have heard some good things so we thought it would be best to explore. the bus let us off and we were like young explorers, ready to find new things. except whoops because we were in a land fill. not kidding we were dropped off in the town garbage dump. so we decide to do the logical thing and walk through it. this turned into us getting lost simply trying to find the beach but it was also very nice. we were walking through alleyways and narrow streets with people hanging out of windows and small children giving us high fives and yelling "toubabs!" it was like our mini parade.
finally after some wandering we found the beach. we walk out of this alley and take in our surroundings. to our right, a herd of blue sheep. no idea why the color change was necessary. but then all around and in front of us in the water were these fishing boats that painted the water with bright colors.
you have to buy a ticket to cross over to the island so we did that and climbed in these shaky boats with oh i dont know like a hundred other people. but it was definitely amusing.
we get to the island and chill hard. we are under the sun and swimming in what seemed like our own personal lagoon. at one point kayla became friends with a stray dog apparently named bob and he was a haggard looking dog but he loved her a lot so he stuck around. after a while we decided to explore the island with bob leading the way. he would jog ahead and then turn and make sure we were still following and if we stopped he would wait patiently for us to catch up. what a cutie.
i called this place a secret garden because we would be walking through these overhanging trees and flowers along cobble stone paths and then out of nowhere there would be a bright yellow door and it looked like there was probably a beautiful garden behind it.
there were also cliffs and just beautiful rocks and waves and grass and wind and benches on the other side. people took pictures so i will upload those when i can.
for a while we just stood on top of the cliffs and the wind was blowing and everything just seems so much bigger than ourselves. it was lovely.
then the rain started.
we were eating at this little place right next to the edge of the water and the sky just dumped on us. basically we were stuck on the island because boats stopped coming but we weren't upset, and also we had fish and beer for lunch so that wasn't bad either.
finally when the rain stopped we were able to leave and made our way back through the little town to find a bus home. except the town was under water. sewage and water and garbage came up to our ankles as we forged our way back through the alleyways and roads. at one point we came to this puddle (but really i mean lake) of garbage and water and there was just NO WAY to cross is unless we were waist deep in water. no thanks.
then this couple pulls up next to us in a pick up and the guy rolls down his window and asks in french if we want a ride across. even though everything we learn is basically dont get in cars with strangers blablabla we were like absolutely yes we would like a ride. they turned out to be awesome and also restored some faith in the goodness of humanity.
we made it home finally and of course the power was out and it was the hottest day ever but i think it might have been my best day of adventure so far and i am very thankful for it.

Thursday, September 16, 2010


mama cathy.
i think i have a receding gum above one of my teeth. what do i do. i am brushing every day/night (for the most part)

family business

what would i ever do without my loving sister hilary to make sure that i provide updates everyday. hmm

things have been pretty wonderful in the ndoye family household. i think a lot of it has to do with the fact that people are fed again and i am learning more wolof and i am not so dependent on them to tell me to do things, and i can now help around the house.
i also learned the family business. i love africa. ha. there are about 50 chairs in this little front section of our house and they are brown and plastic and flimsy and there are way too many for a family of 3 but i always just figured it was a weird quirk and my family was just really into plastic chairs. also one time i brought one up to the roof and then didn't bring it down cause i figured they wouldnt notice and then there would always be one up there for me. wrong. immediately i was asked where the chair was when i came downstairs, i told them i left it up there and mom said "well go bring it back." eek. as my brother andrew says, "well sorryyy"
so somehow at dinner the other night my mom brought up chairs and i found out that they actually rent them out to people for baptisms or festivals in the neighborhood....duh

another food story.
lately we have been eating a lot later since ramadan is over and everyone eats a huge lunch during the day. but i eat at school so i am always famished by 9pm when dinner is ready. so tuesday night i think it was, it was about 10pm with no dinner in sight. but then all of a sudden my mom brings a plate in just for me and i was like WHAT UP yes. food. it was pasta with scrambled eggs and melted cheese. and it was GOOD. no joke. i ate it all which was a bad idea cause of course i regretted it but only 17% of my body felt that regret. so then i go outside and the grill is going. and then i realized this is dinner round 2. and it was fish...all fish fish everywhere fish fish fish.
best part of the story: carlos was grilling with his bare hands. what a man. he would pick up whole fish and flip them on this small charcoal grill. there were chunks of tuna too and he had no fear. it was awesome.
and then we ate the fish. but it was also sooo good.

also i found out my mom is missing her two front teeth and when she gets tired they come out.

Monday, September 13, 2010

lost in translation

two good stories.

the other day mali, natalie and i decided to stop at this fairly small market on the way back from school. i need "house shoes" my mom tells me everyday which are just a pair of shoddy flip flops. whoops cause my two options were che guevara or brazil's national soccer team (both too small for my monster feet). so i decided no to that. there was a tiny little station set up with some fabric that i have been on the prowl for. so i was just looking. emphasis on looking. i greeted the woman selling it as i should, and then i asked her the measurements and how much it cost. it was more than i had with me so i told her i loved it and maybe i could come back later. wrong answer.
she went nuts and started yelling at me in wolof and then took a nice swipe at my face. luckily i have been in this spy/detective craze so she didn't get me. but i got out of there faster than you can say alxamdulilaay.
mali and i were trying to figure out what i said that was so offensive because i didn't touch anything or do anything that i thought would attract these "evil spirits" that attack small children when you say how cute they are. and also....it's fabric so i sincerely hope the spirits chill out and go for cute puppies or something instead of a piece of beautiful cloth. there is a jealousy issue going on here.

second story.
in public health class today we did HIV/AIDS part 2. and our prof asked us what are some std's that we can name blablabla so a girl katie said "herpes" with a little influx at the end because she wasnt sure if it was the same word in french; however, instead of hearing herpes, the prof heard "chaude pisse." the literal translation of this would be hot urine. suddenly a room of 19-21 year olds could not stop laughing/crying/pulling stomach muscles because chaude pisse was so not what katie said. the prof then proceeded to talk about chaude pisse (he translated it, talked about how its a good clue that you have an std, so on and so forth). all maturity was lost.

i was excited because it looked like steak frites and who doesn't love a good plate of fries and steak right? well awesome because it was liver. i couldn't do it. the meat was all on the bottom of the plate covered by fries and onions. i quickly apologized to my arteries because i knew i would eat a lot of this (before i knew it was liver) and then worked out in my head how many years of life i will lose by eating the saturated fat i could see oozing from every molecule of fry. then i stuck my fork into the mix and took a nice succulent bite. nope nope nope. as soon as i bit down on the liver i knew i was doomed. i started gagging. like the severe kind before you puke where your eyes start watering and you make weird gurgling sounds. luckily the tv was on so i turned around and faced it while we ate so i could close my eyes and just try to swallow this massive amount of animal organ inside my mouth.

by the hammer of thor i need a salad.

Sunday, September 12, 2010



you've done it!

the fam

here are some pictures i thought would be nice to show:
(i am stealing a good chunk of wireless right now so i can do that. it's fine.)

this is my cousin bineta. she is my saving grace because she loves me a lot and doesn't care that i can't speak wolof.

this is lovely carlos. he chose this pose for the picture. it was intentional. but i don't know what it is.

this is mom. do you understand how maybe she is a little intimidating?

and this is sexna. little cutie

this is fifi. she is terrified of white people. this is how she looks all the time.

and finally. this is my city. it is so beautiful. and i like it so much.

Friday, September 10, 2010


i'm not sure if i will make it back.

ramadan is officially over (thanks to someone figuring out where the moon is) so people are eating again and they are happy; however, i ate breakfast today and it wasnt a baguette. try to picture a baby's spit up in a huge bowl that has lumps of something not chewy but not soft and not crunchy. just lumps of goo.
let me go back to this spit up part. i think it might actually be hot yogurt. i don't know. but my insides feel weird.

on a lighter note today is a huge celebration so everyone is dressed in traditional muslim/senegalese clothing and it looks like a paint can exploded over the city because there are beautiful colors EVERYWHERE
we are eating well today (at least that is what i hear but you never know with the ndoye family) but i did see some dead chickens in our backyard this morning so im assuming i will get poultry PTL

i persuaded a man last night that i was a princess and my name was pam and i am touring senegal. he was ecstatic and i got a good laugh out of it. 

Thursday, September 9, 2010


maybe i have heat rash.
but at least my bowels are going strong.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

the little princess

today i had coffee paste. totally normal. let me explain except that there is not much to explain here. anyways, i was running late for school because i walked today and it takes about an hour so whoops. every morning my mom puts out breakfast for me and i love her for that but she doesn't take in to account my time of departure so i try to look really busy in the morning but actually i am just changing directions to see if there is breakfast on the table yet. so i'm running late, breakfast is finally on the table but i have to leave the house. so i put two huge spoonfils of nescafe in my cup with a lump of sugar and some classy powdered milk. turns out there is barely any hot water left. so i put in maybe 1/4 cup and then mix it up. needless to say it wasnt quite the smooth velvety consistency i am used to in my morning cup of instant coffee. it looked like tar. and i drank it all. at this point i thought it would be really helpful to have some mirrors in the house seeing as i probably had bits of coffee powder in my teeth.

yesterday when i came home from school a little guy named sexna (in wolof the letter x is pronounced with a hacking noise in the back of your throat so his name sounds like say-add a hack- na not sex-na) was over. he's like 5 or 6 i think and usually we get along fabulously. but yesterday i came in said hi and then ruffled his hair (i dont know what word to use here because he really doesnt have any so just think of it as the action of a ruffle). he got super pissed and said in french "are you mad?" he has never spoken to me in french before.thanks for the warm welcome child.

we had my favorite dinner (for real) last night called yaasa. OH SO GOOD. it's the one with onions and peppers and of course rice and super fatty meat. a lot of times you eat this with chicken but either someone in my family is allergic to the meat i love so dearly, they like to see me gag on fat or it's too expensive. my guess is number 2.

i took out the camera last night and sexna had a photoshoot with a wall and my hair. no joke my face never made it into a picture. but carlos came out and wanted his picture taken as did mama so those will be coming for you later. bless his soul that carlos he was just plain giddy.

also. i found out we have a maid now. she is pretty young and her name is mariam. she is super quiet and i have trouble with the idea of a maid so i am trying to adjust to that. except this is the best part. she looks EXACTLY like becky from the movie the little princess with the wispy hair and the big smile. and my name is sarah. therefore we are becky and sarah from the little princess and maybe one day we will wake up and there will be warm orange curtains draped over our beds and the walls and we will have cozy slippers on our feet and there will be muffins and sausages and orange juice on the table and we will open the door and the wind will sweep through our hair and our robes and we will hear the sitar music coming from somewhere and everything will smell good and look wonderful and we will be laughing and dancing.
....but for now i am trying to learn enough wolof to ask her how her day has been.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010


this is a shop on goree island. nice colors don't you think?

last night i came home after school and we had our pre dinner tea. it was strange because everything was happening a lot faster than usual and we were all huddled around the doorway to the house. apparently its totally normal to drink scalding hot tea in 30 seconds because they threw back tea like it was nobody's business.
then we all ate dinner in the hallway. again, sometimes i wonder if it ever occurs to my family to explain certain things to me. literally we were on the floor of the hallway eating gumbo. blehhhh. let me explain this so called gumbo to you. i'm pretty sure there was ham in it and there are fishbones everywhere and it tastes a little like old meat. also there was a random fish head in the mix but it was so dark i could barely see it.

today i switched into a class called public health. i'm so excited for it and we get to go on a 3 day field trip into a rural area later on in the semester.

life is good, the sun is hot, the bus is stinky, the people are lovely and i still can't speak wolof.

Monday, September 6, 2010

what is whole wheat anyway

today i bought whole wheat cookies. i have not had anything whole wheat since i've been here (blabla for all those people who say it should really be whole grain because that is what's actually good for you. i see wheat. i eat the wheat.)

ok so back track to friday, our first weekend on our own. a group of us decided to go to la plage verage which is a beach just outside of ouakam. i felt like a little kid because we were all so entranced by the waves and we kept making up new games to play while we were in the ocean. also there were a TON of surfers, mainly french, mainly beautiful.
the beach is where i got that sunburn i was telling you about. oooh ouch. i get home and everyone laughed at me and carlos just kept saying my visage was tres rouge. it was painful and nobody understood it.

so then on saturday our ciee group went to l'ile de goree which is a tiny island off the coast of dakar. we took a ferry to get there and it was called "beer." what a riot.
goree served as a "market" for the slave trade. we went inside these tiny cells where people were held and heard way too many sad and horrible stories about what went on there. now it is this beautiful tropical island where a lot of europeans come for vacation with bright yellows and blues and reds. it's pretty ironic that it's the place to go if you want to buy souvenirs of africa because years ago you were buying people instead of bracelets.

also happy birthday to my leetle babee brother who is 17 now. ready for real life.

saturday night we ventured to a discotheque. SUPER FUN
it was called le patio and there were a ton of french military men there. (as well as a woman from liberia named joyce who liked to talk to me a little too much) we danced the night away and the dj played christina aguillera's geenie in a bottle. also weird thing about senegalese clubs: there are mirrors along all the walls and people stand in front of the mirrors watching themselves dance instead of dancing with people. hey i'm totally fine with that as long as i get my space to groove.

i can't believe it's already september. i miss fall a little bit. actually a lot. because i still sweat 24/7.

oh also for dinner we ate at our director's house. she lives in ouakam and is married to a senegalaise guy named papice. they have a son named bubacar and we had SALAD FOR DINNER. hi my name is sarah and i am the happiest of all.

its thunderstorming right now. praise the lord for real.

Saturday, September 4, 2010


internet here is insane so i haven't been able to post but just know this.
i got my first african sunburn. try explaining that in french.

also i got splashed by a truck and i am covered in mud when i come home and carlos says "ce n'est pas grave" basically "no big deal." ....thanks pop

i got yelled at on the car rapide today by an old angry muslim woman because i was staring at a baby too long. if you stare it means evil spirits will bring harm. obviously. my bad.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

mais, j'ai mangé!!

this is the view from my roof. it's quite lovely.

so last some people stayed at school to use the library thus we were all pretty late getting home.
i opened my front door for the first time (im telling you these things are impossible to figure out) and i went to the back "yard" and started talking to ma boyz. mom was out and bineta was in her room. they saved me some dinner in this medium sized crock pot. halfway through i started struggling. every spoonful was a battle of wits and will. i had to finish it, i didnt really have an option and i knew i could avoid a broken french argument if i just finished it.
15 minutes later i ate my last bite. i was sweating and im sure i had bags under my eyes and my skin was clammy. i had seen death but i looked the other way.

20 minutes later...mama comes home and there are a few other woman who are at our house by that point. she gets out one of the bowls we normally eat out of which is the size of about 3 pie pans put together. then i hear the dreaded words, "il faut manger" this means "you need to eat." you've got to be kidding me. i am still in a mental recovery room from my first dinner.  after a lot of insistent french and wolof, i dragged my sorry self into the circle and proceeded to eat couscous and some kind of meat. as if it was not enough that i literally thought couscous was going to come out of my eyeballs, there were huge chunks of tomato throughout the meat. somebody here is trying to kill me.
but don't get me wrong, i am very grateful for their hospitality i just want to live to see october.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

taranga -hospitality

my favorite place in my house is the roof.
once you get passed the fish skeletons that they put up there for the cats it's really quite lovely. so i was up on 'la terrace' reading over my wolof and i smelled...ONIONS and PEPPERS and i am fairly certain that i was drooling. you need to understand that i have not had anything that is not tan or orange or soft since i have been here. granted the onions and peppers were still soft and there was still fish but while we ate this glorious blend of food together, i was the happiest girl in senegal.

because senegal is a muslim country the call to prayer is always humming through the city. there are a ton of mosques in ouakam that project it over loudspeakers. it's very soothing actually but yesterday the man who was doing it started laughing. it was awesome and everyone could hear it so for a few minutes the whole city was laughing.

yesterday the power went out for about an hour or two during dinner. i had a very american moment because i started thinking "shoot, how will i charge my phone? i am going to melt if i cant use my fan! i dont even want to think about going to the bathroom in the dark!" ....then i realized wait a minute, my family is totally chill right now and the power goes out all the time. they dont freak out about their stupid phones or fans. they simply drink more tea and wait. so now i wait and drink more tea.

let me tell you about mon papa Carlos.
i love carlos. and i really like my family but carlos is different.
he works a lot so he is not home as much as i wish he was, but the other day i came home from school and he was watching basketball since it was his day off. he loves basketball so we talked about it for a while and then we talked about school and he asked questions that you want parents to ask. then i told him about all these adventures i want to go on and he got very protective and warned me about pickpocketing, senegalese men and walking alone. he makes the effort to talk to me in french instead of wolof which is nice for know seeing as i still only know how to say a formal greeting and "how much does this cost." also when he smiles he looks so unbelievable happy...and he has the best laugh.

the "after dinner" time is one of my favorite times of day. it is cool and dark and since we eat outside we all hang out where we ate and drink very strong green tea out of shot glasses (not sure why). it's a long process to make the tea so people sit, talk and spend time with each other. ousseynou and carlos smoke their cigarettes and mom talks and talks and talks. sometimes im not sure who she is talking to. but everything smells good and a little old fashioned and makes you sleepy.

life moves slowly here but it is also cherished and shared, and i think there is something to be said for a family who can sip tea for 3 hours and simply enjoy one anothers company.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Indigo Montoya

yesterday was our first day of classes. i am officially a senior. blerg.

a few of us got the bus from ouakam to the school and that was an adventure in itself. we are the first stop so there is barely anyone on the bus when we get on. five minutes later my face is literally touching the sweat under an large african man's armpit while mr hands-on over here is having a field day. not to mention liz (another ciee student) is busy getting pickpocketed next to me (there was nothing in her pockets so no big deal except oh wait we get to do this everyday). needless to say, we push the button to get off at our stop, the bus doesnt stop and we end up back tracking about half a mile to get to school. i am pretty sure 68% of the sweat on me was not my own. african public transportation in a nutshell right there.

my first class of the day is gender and development. my prof is a woman who studied in kalamazoo so we have a special bond, or at least she was really excited that i understand the cold weather there. she seems really progressive which doesnt seem to be common outside of the school so i am fer sure stoked on that.

next class is wolof. awesome. because there are letters that dont exist in the english language that are used in wolof and i wish i could show you some examples but they dont make wolof keyboards so that will be difficult. also there are different ways to hack up sounds from the back of your throat so that will take some getting used to.

next class. MY FAVORITE. it is french phonetics. i couldn't even tell you what we did because i was too busy comparing my life to the princess bride. why? my prof has six fingers one of his hands. the 6th even has a fingernail. i challenge anyone to try to take his class and not picturing him fighting indigo screaming, "you killed my father, prepare to die"

my other french prof is a polygamist. you know, the classic conversation starter.

later that night i was hanging out with my friend/brother/uncle ousseynou and we were swapping music. it's always fun to see what songs people know who are not from the us. so obviously i asked him if he liked beyonce. he does. +10 points for ousseynou.
later i recieved a text that said, "S8 content de la musique i love you te gentille." i dont know what the S8 means but i chose to translate the text as "thanks for the music"

Monday, August 30, 2010


i have my baguette and my backpack.
ready to conquer the world.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

you know you're in africa when

i don't know how to start this appropriately. we were all sitting in the living room of my house last night when a family friend came over with her daughter fifi. she sat down on the couch and then started touching one of her breasts. then she started scratching it and while i was already trying to avert my eyes as best i could, she was very quick to take off all of her top and sit there while everyone continued to speak in wolof like there were not 2 giant (and i am by no means exaggerating) breasts taking up the third seat on the couch.

all of my clothes smell like janky sweat.

we have been doing a lot of exploring here and i love that. things are super laid back. for example, all yesterday my family watches tv and sits around the living room. i started getting really lonely at one point because my family speaks wolof all the time and french only when they ask me something so im just like oh hey guys its whatevs i'll just hang out here. and then for lunch yesterday i thought my body was going to crumple up and die because of all the food i had to eat. i was put in a corner of the kitchen (because its ramadan everyone is fasting so i eat alone) and i had 3 entire fish, a ton of fries and fried onions to eat all by myself. for the first time i thought "a greenhouse girl cant finish her food. what is happening here"
but when i met up with the rest of the kids in the program we found out we all had a similar experience and already towards the end of the night things were looking up for me.

jason, justine, justine's host sister and i took a trip up to the lighthouse. you can see the ocean from all sides and it is as far west as you can go in africa. it was windy and not as hot. definitely the perfect place to hang out for a day or so. i felt like a queen in a castle.

there is another sister/cousin who is also named bineta so i play with her a lot. she loves loves loves photobooth on my computer and we ate coconuts together last night. i also have banana mango and lime trees in my back yard whatupppp

attention harry potter fans: there is a pizza here called le basilic. guess which american freaked out.

i took the car rapide all by myself today. it was glorious. i am called "toubab" which means white person. i'm all about it. who wouldnt want that name

all the ciee students went to downtown dakar today and it was saweeet. it was nice to reconnect and know that we are all kind of going through similar situations making everything seem more comforting (like the fact our poop smells like fish)

school starts tomorrow. im so excited. i feel like i'm going to kindergarten and i can't wait to use my new backpack and school supplies. but i'm sarah. therefore i only have one notebook and 2 pens here. whoops.

favorite part of the day. get a load of the name of this ice cream:

Friday, August 27, 2010

toilets, eyeballs and mosquitoes

i am home. i have a home here. home home home

i wish everyone was here because i don't even know where to begin.
before we moved out of the dorms at suffolk we had our final orientation for cross cultural tips. all the ciee students went to the baobab center where we ate a legit (i guess that's not what we had all week) senegalese meal. meaning gather around this huge bowl on the floor that everyone eats out of WITH YOUR HANDS. needless to say it was a mess. there were fish eyeballs rolling around everyone had oil all over their faces and it was oozing through our fingers while we tried to keep our dignity and composure. nope.

some friends and i came back and figured we had an hour and a half until our families came to pick us up so might as well go exploring right? cool because we got lost and we got back to campus with about 3 minutes to spare. guess who has the ONLY african family who is on time. so i met my yaay/mama and i was sweaty dirty and extremely disheveled. way to go sarah way to go.

we took a taxi to ouakam, and at least mama thinks i'm funny because i think that's all i've got going for me.

i met carlos- sweet sweet soul. he has the nicest belly like a jolly grandpa and he doesn't call me by my name (probably because no one remembers it) instead he snaps in my direction but very lovingly. he doesn't talk much but i really like him because and i think he will take good care of me.

mama likes to laugh at me. she talks to me in wolof. not sure when she will realize i have no idea what she is saying. but she also speaks french with the heaviest wolof accent EVER so most of the time we smile laugh and then move on.

ma soeur bineta (beenta)- she is 24 and i like her a lot. she does a lot of the work around the house so she is usually pretty busy, but i think we are going to get along really well.

this is my immediate family. i can't possibly tell you any other relations but i know one ciee student is my aunt and 2 are my sisters (cousins). we all live right next door to each other and i think we are going to have a great time. apparently all the families in ouakam are semi related so people keep telling me oh this is your tata or this is your sister! i smile a lot and say aah oui! bien sur! bonjour ma soeur.

also there is a guy that ate dinner with us and he does business so he knows a little english but he has been helping me out a lot so far. i think he is my age but africans i am pretty sure age backwards so my mama looks 30 but is probably 50. anywho i can't ever have a crush on this guy because it would be incestuous i am pretty sure.

i have already made many mistakes but hey it's fine. i gagged on cabbage at dinner and i can't figure out how to flush the toilet so i ignore the problem as usual. carlos asked me if i was getting bitten by mosquitoes but i thought he said something about liking music so i said, "ah oui! j'aime la musique!"...ha whoops.

guess who won't be using toilet paper this semester. for real though. it's all about the water scoop.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

who wouldn't want to eat that

last night my roomie (lol *~ 143*~ xoxox) and i fell asleep watching the fourth kind. it's some kind of alien terrifying mind freak movie. bad idea because i woke up at 7 this morning anticipating a lovely run through the bustling streets of dakar. i blame jet lag and the freak movie for the reasons behind me slamming down the snooze button.

today was a pretty chill day for half of us. we had our second wolof class. don't worry it was just as confusing as the first one but at least now i know how to say i am constipated (dama seere) or i have diarrhea (sama biirdafay daw). awesome.  we studied a dialogue between a taxi driver and a student so that we can learn how to bargain when we take them. (basically what i will be doing is bringing this sheet of paper into every taxi and telling the driver to "please follow the script"

after wolof we registered for classes. much more simple than hope because we only have 7 classes to choose from. i will be taking:
gender and development (english)
advanced french 1 (french)
reglement de crises ("crisis management" in french)
societe et culture senegal (french)
wolof (wolof hehe)

i'm super excited for these and i think they will be really great.
the word "really" in wolof sounds like chee diggy diggy but insanely fast

there were torrential rains for all of 10 minutes today but the whole town flooded (or so we thought) but it dried in about 2 hours. the drainage systems here are nonexistent so people were wading through puddles that went up to their knees.

later we went swimming and realized that malaria pills make us burn.

i found out a little about my family tonight-- my dad's name is carlos (no he is not spanish whatsoever) and my mom's name is mbengue. i will have one sister who is 24 and they are muslim with a lot of friends. that is all i know. i'm not that excited about having only one sister it at the moment just cause everyone else has huge families and that was the only request i had for my housing card. but hey who knows it could be awesome.

i got proposed to tonight so that was flattering. actually, it's not that different from hope college.
here was our dinner:

Wednesday, August 25, 2010


this is what we  found on our desk. it has surrendered to a chemical spray death.
welcome to africa.

today we had our  medical orientation. basically we are supposed to be paranoid and not do anything. we were talking about the water and how we should really just buy bottled water unless it is boiled at home. one person reminded everyone to make sure the seal wasn't broken, and then another person said "well what about when people take a lighter and reseal it by melting the plastic?"..............if you know me well, you know i laughed a little at that.

we also got cell phones today which is so bizarre. but you can listen to the radio! the phones came with one earpiece so everyone walks around with one little black wire hanging out their ear. the call to prayer is running on the radio and it is actually really cool to listen to. there is also french news and a ton of wolof.

good news of the day: i tested into advance french! super excited about that because i can take all of my classes in french and get all the credit i need to finish my minor. finally something goes right in my academic career.

we went to the beach today and a dead fish smashed into my leg. i was going to bury it, so i started pushing it down the beach but then i realized i rolled it to a rock right under a ton of senegalese men my age and they were cracking up at the fact that i was rolling a dead fish along the beach. so i smiled did a little bow and said salaamaalekum! and sauntered off as fast as i could.

also we had a banana with our dinner SCORE

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

guard those pockets.

my brain is fried/jello/pudding/what ever else consists of a gel like substance.

we had security orientation.
stories consisted of machetes, robberies, jail and scams. no big deal right?

we had our first wolof class today. here are some examples of what i learned:

q: naka nga fanaane?
a: jamm rekk

q:sa yaram jamm?
a: jamm rekk alxamdulilaay

q: naka waa ker gi?
a: nungi fi

one of the best parts of learning today was that we were taught the language in french. so that meant we had to translate from wolof to french to english. it made french pretty easy to understand actually because that is something i pretty comfortable with; however, my brain hurts something serious.
but everyone we meet is really excited to talk to us in wolof and very encouraging so that is fantastic.

we had wolof for about 2 1/2 hours and then a quick lunch break and then more language except this time it was a french placement exam. no big deal it's just like having the biggest french final of your life after a whole summer of not studying it. cool. i think i did well though. i talked about how the clintons now live in new york. my professor thought it was neato.

a few of us then went on a little beach trip to relax. we all felt like zombies that just got hit by a car rapide.

here is what our backyard looks like 

Monday, August 23, 2010

this is where i am.

hold the applause

so i found out today that not everyone finds my humor funny as some of my friends back home (mainly greenhouse girls).
also, sarcasm doesn't translate. but it's fine.

so today we began with the typical senegalese breakfast, a baguette with jam or nutella (guess which one i chose WHAT UP)
as my incredibly clever father says the internal time for africans is spelled w-a-i-t, so when breakfast is "served" at 8:30 you can imagine we were still baking in the sun by 9:30 waiting to come inside. how silly of us time oriented americans bahaha.

after breakfast we began our orientation/welcome session. basically we learned that we are here to study and do well in our classes but one of our advisors serigne ndiaye (male, pronounced sur-een) told us what he really means by that is life is not all about hard work but experiencing and living it adventurously (except by yourself at night).s erigne also walks around the classroom in bare feet. hallelujah i am home.

here are some things i learned today:
-i will be getting my calcium through powdered milk...not so bad once you get through the chunks at the bottom.
-the taxis here have cow tails attached to the back. they are supposed to be filled with magical powers for protection (shield charm?)
- if you accept gifts from men...you are no longer single.
- food is still awesome. everyone says we should be getting diarrhea soon but so far my body is totally content (minus the plane incident)
-in Wolof (local language) there is no word for cousin. this is interesting because the only relatives are brother, sister, mama, papa, tata (aunt) and tonton (uncle). everyone is family or kolere which means "shared experience" but also really family. that means neighbors are family and everyone is my brother or sister. it is such a beautiful culture on that reason alone i think.

(the power just went out hehehe)

also today i got to see where i will be living and it is a short bus ride on the car rapide to my neighborhood called Ouakam (wakum). i don't really know anything else about it yet except it seems like an awesome place and the neighborhood squirrels will be goats. we get a stipend every 2 weeks because we (there are a few other CIEE students in Ouakam) live farthest from the school but this guy jason and i were like DUDE give me that extra cash and i'll walk to school for free....but that short bus ride might be a little longer than we originally thought. oh well.

this is a car rapide. as they say, bon voyage!