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 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 on garth.