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!

no big deal.

this is the courtyard outside of the dorms we are temporarily staying in.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

sweat glands

cool because I have never sweat so much in my life.
the nice thing is that everyone is resigned to the fact that this will happen and no one cares.
back sweat is the key player in the war against our pores.


here is what has happened since i left you lovelies.

had one of those hazardous airport moments when everything seems like it is running out of time and it is just plain scary.
met people on the plane
people are nice. but it's still those awkard freshman year try to be friends with everyone and see who you actually could be friends with in 2 weeks.

so we begin our "final descent" (also apparently africa doesnt deserve good planes because the headphone jacks were missing and there was caution tape wrapped around one of the arm rests.) so we are descending and the turbulence is out of control. i have never experienced anything like it and it would have been so fun except i started feeling super nauseous and then i started sweating and my hair was so hot on my head i wanted to shave it off (i literally thought of pedro from napoleon dynamite) what ended up happening was i vommed into my halfway eaten bag of quaker mini rice cakes. i tried to do it really inconspicuously because ciee boy was 2 seats away from me. needless to say it was narsty. and ps who the heck gets plane sick SO LAME

the senegalese folk seem to be really nice so far. we are in the dorms for the week and there is this security guard named samba who is teaching us some wolof. super hard. its also almost sunrise i have no idea whats going on because we dont know if we should sleep or eat breakfast and then sleep I LITERALLY DID NOT SLEEP FOR 1 MINUTE ON THE PLANE . i am a walking zombie with an air of puke.

also WEIRD that we have wi-fi in the dorm because hope college doesnt even have that.

love you all