Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Moutons Moutons Moutons!

I have never seen so many sheep in my life.
Tabaski, the second major Muslim holiday of our little stay in Senegal, is fast approaching. On Saturday, every head of household kills a sheep, and the women gut it, grill it, and serve it with onions. I'm not quite sure why people celebrate Tabaski at the end of November, but it seems that at every major occurence (baptisms, weddings, etc.) a sheep dies.
Currently, two sheep reside on our rooftop. In early morning, one can hear them bahh-ing for dear life. I have yet to climb up to the roof since we bought them, but I'm not quite sure I want to see them until just before the slaughter. As an American, our meat only comes in plastic-wrapped post-slaughter form, so there is no real association between our meal and the animal it once was.
And...I"m being kicked out of the computer lab.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Africa Time

Wow, it's been a long time since the last post. I'll lamely excuse myself my saying that I'm running on Africa time. According to the laws of Africa time, everything starts/finishes/gets done late. For example, if a concert is slated to start at 9pm, the musicians sit down at 11 pm. Sometimes professors don't even show up for class. Assignments are assigned and teachers forget about them. At first, this law of African nature grates upon an American to no end. However, after a few months, one begins to accept the slow, mildly inefficient manner in which things are run.
Let's see, since my last post, I've departed for and returned from my rural visit, which was in Yenne, and received the new computer!!!!
Since Yenne is the area of more interest to those who read this blog, I'll write about that as opposed to Gerald (yes, I named the computer).
Yenne is a moderately sized village about two hours by bus from Dakar. It's situated right next to the artist's colony we had visited in September, Toubab Dialow. I stayed with a true African family in an apartment complex/house. In traditional African settings, entire families (parents, sons, daughter-in-laws, children, etc.) live together in larger compound-like buildings. It's not uncommon to see 20 or more people living in this fashion. Each family has their own mini apartment, but they live, eat, and work together.
In my particular family, four or five families, with 8-10 small children lived in the compound. Add in the random friends and visitors who drop by, and you get a crazy house. At mealtimes, one ate as fast as humanly possible in order to protect one's portion of rice from all the small hands reaching into the bowl.
Since some of my family did not speak French, the two other CIEE students and I were encouraged to speak Wolof. Judging by the fact that we had all half-heartedly followed our beginner's Wolof courses for a mere two months, our conversations weren't all that intellectual (think pointing and saying "pretty!" which in Wolof is Rafetna!). However, despite the language barrier, I managed to befriend the woman who barely spoke French. Who knew pointing and talking like a two year old could be a good starter for friendship?
To be continued...

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Posting Laziness

To explain my lack of posts, I will have to use the excuse of study abroad doldrums. Gym, school, host family time, out with friends. I guess this is what it feels like to finally begin to adjust to another country\culture. Of course, the harassment by jaded locals and the perception that all white people are mere walking dollar bills has been old for a while and is still irritating, I feel like the majority of us have gotten used to it enough to ignore it.
So, before explaining Halloween celebrations in a country that does not celebrate Halloween, I`ll give an overview of Senegal right now. It is hot but dry, so I can actually walk down the street without becoming a human water fountain. According to the Senegalese, the heat is supposed to dissipate by December, but these are also people who wear long sleeves and pants when the temperature drops below 80. It is also almost veggie season, so more and more carrots, cabbagge, etc. is appearing in our meals. Before I came here, I never realized how wonderful a couple of leaves of cabbage actually were. Or any vegetable for that matter. A white carb and meat based diet makes one truely thankful for the varied American diet.
And now...HALLOWEEN!
Alex, Estee, and I dressed up as half of the Spice Girls and we started out at the school party with Rachel, Allyson, Kristine, Keely, Jocelyn, and Heather. After much dancing and some wine, we opted for a change in venue and hopped Heather`s friend`s car to the US Marine house. However, once we were dropped off in the location where we thought the house was, we found ourselves stranded at 1 am on the Corniche, a road that runs alongside the ocean. Estee made a quick call to her friend at the Marine house and, lo and behold, and Marine SUV appeared within minutes to escort us to the house. And those are the American tax drivers hard at work; saving Halloween for exchange students everywhere. We finished the night with more dancing and a trip to another club. In all, I must say that Halloween in a Muslim country was surprisingly similar to the American version. Well, except for the fact that every conversation is conducted in French. And I think the taxi drivers were quite amused by our outfits as well. :)