Monday, April 5, 2010

Mefloquine gives me ADD

I will be so shocked if I don’t get pink eye at least once a month for the next 2 years of my life. So we pretty much use manure for everything – to garden, to build mud stoves, etc. The amount of wind here blowing up the feces is… quite bountiful. If it’s not sand in my eye, it’s manure. Can you get pink eye from feces of other animals?

Babies are carried on mothers’ backs here. They look like little Jansport backpacks. Underwear is totally different here too. Theyre more for… display than anything. But then again, if you think about it, we wear nice underwear for display too. Why else would I Calvin Klein it up? But yeah the women’s underwear actually doesn’t cover anything. It’s like mesh but the wholes are huge. Anyway, the reason I bring this point up is because I have seen plenty of women’s underwear… and women’s genitalia in the last week. Senegal is a conservative Muslim country, hands down. But theres also this underground culture in villages where by our standards, it is not conservative at all. So we were able to attend a women’s microfinance group meeting the other day and by meeting I mean dance for 2 hours and meet for like 15 minutes, lol. But the dancing involved lifting up your “boo boo” (aka dress/shirt) and revealing the sexy underwear you have underneath – and this underwear, by no means, covers the genital area at all. So… yeah, I’ll leave it at that. In some regard, if youre amongst your own gender, then I guess privacy is no biggie. Look at locker rooms of gyms. If you have one and I have one, where’s the embarrassment? Stigma? Taboo, whatnot? I guess I just wasn’t expecting to see such a display. The wolofs are totally the hippies and liberal democrats of Senegal… There are boobs everywhere. But it was like this in Paraguay so I’m not as shocked. Their purpose is for nursing. Nothing else special, haha.

The wolof language itself is quite interesting. There are verbs for “to pick lice” or “to pretend to be stupid” but there is no verb for “to enjoy” or an expression for “good luck”. The term for hill billy is “cow cow”, how fitting. And the term for city slicker is “boytown”. How fitting again. Wolof culture is also… frustrating slash entertaining. So I hate it when people state the obvious or say unnecessary things but it is ingrained into the culture here, as a form of greeting or dialogue. All my conversations have some aspect of this, but to give you an example, as I’m sitting on a bench drinking water, someone passes by:

stranger: hi
me: hi
stranger: you’re sitting?
me: … yes I’m sitting. You’re walking?
stranger: yes I’m walking.
me: Ahumdillilah

I’ll let that soak in your head for a minute. So the food is still delicious but I can see why people say they get sick of it. I have the same thing (usually) everyday. Breakfast consists of a loaf of bread with butter and café with milk. Lunch is fish with rice and veggies. Dinner is soggy rice with beans and smoked fish. On occasion, we’ll have chicken. As a side note, and a more serious one, I have a greater appreciation of being an American – having choices and varieties, coming from a free and prosperous country, all the things that make our country great. The food tastes amazing but it would suck not having variety in my life, being restricted by the cost of food and living. We will see if I can handle food monotony for the next two years. I don’t want to give in to instant mac n cheese from a box… just yet. But this experience does make me appreciate the rare occasions when we deviate from the norm. Sometimes for breakfast, I’ll get this mayo and onion concoction which is to die for. When there’s a baptism in the village, we’ll get this couscous and yogurt thing. Sometimes for lunch, we’ll have fish balls in an onion sauce, which may or may not be my favorite dish here. The way onion is done here, couldn’t be done better. And sometimes for dinner, we’ll have this really really soggy rice in like this mango sauce with fish. It’s really good but what makes it more awesome is its name. In wolof, it’s called baxal goorjigeen… literal translation = boiling homosexual. For the life of me, I will never figure out why. And lastly, sometimes we’ll have fonde if we’re still hungry. Fonde is this concoction of couscous and butter and milk and sugar. It’s quite good but supposedly it gives you a fat ass. There’s even a song for it!

Jaay fonde amul “pertement”
Boo ci amul “benefice”
Am ci sa wan, wan, wan, wan…

So the song pretty much talks about this girl who sells fonde but when no one buys the fonde, she has to eat it herself so as not to waste it. As a resutlt, she gets a fat ass, ass, ass, ass… lol how lovely!

I learn wolof which I think will be decent in a couple of months but I don’t get a lot of French practice. I want to speak decent French in 2 years. English, Chinese, French, wolof… not bad. Throw in some Spanish from high school and survival Hindi and I feel pretty good about it.

Taking the “cab” in rural areas is awesome. These cars are so broken down, the doors don’t stay closed, you can tell the car was put together from 20 different car parts, there is masking tape and thin wire holding things together… fucking awesome! What makes it even better is the amount of people they shove into each car. So the cars can comfortably seat like 6. Of course 11 is the norm for a shared cab ride.

Wrestling sucks balls here. So theres like a build up of hype on tv for like a month, literally people just talking about the upcoming wrestling match, some dancing here and there and that’s it. Then during the actual match, 5 minutes is spent on hand slapping and the actual wrestling lasts about 5 seconds and then it’s over. Like… what the fuck. Haha. Look it up. You’ll understand. There’s a lot of things that I feel are half-assed here. Like the cameramen that work events. I can totally do their jobs better than they can. And the backup dancers during concerts. Terrible! But I am so intrigued by Senegalese drumming. And dancing. The knees! It’s… phenomenal. Like out of this world.

Umm… picture time!

Yesterday was easter and our LCF (language and cultural facilitator aka teacher) who happens to be catholic (in a predominantly muslim country - awesome!) invited us over for easter lunch and dancing festivities. it was awesome! the food was delicious as you can see from above but it made me sad that there were about 5 of us to a plate this size whereas in my village, there are 16 of us to the same. disparities!

local beer. it's terrible but necessary for stress relief.

random children in our village. they were cute.

my 'ponytail'... it's getting there... slowly but surely.

my favorite dish ever. yassa boulette (sp?) fish balls in an onion sauce over rice. SO good...

classroom. unconventional. LOVE IT. the chairs are usually for decoration. you can find me in the sand or on the mat, lol.

the mural we painted for our school. pretty senegal!

a typical day walking through our village. we are such tuubaabs, pronounced two-bobs (the senegalese word for white folk)

our lovely garden that we worked so hard to start. nothings really growing except beans. hopefully when we go back on thursday, it will be lush. enshallah!

and a school building fell on one of our garden patches (which we had to relocate). c'est la vie.

ok i think that catches yall up on my life somewhat. ive been slowly and painfully downloading the funktion and encore dance mix videos and some greek week variety videos and lady gaga's music video. will watch soon to catch up on life!

what's going on in your life?!


  1. everything's so exciting!!! i feel like you just brought senegal into my little cubby here at the libs! which just about sums up my life! when you mentioned 2 years of the same food.. i remembered you're going to be gone for 2 years and it's barely even been a month! feels like forever! :(

  2. Your ponytail!

    My mom thinks it looks good. Oh, she also mentioned that I'd totally be constipated because it doesn't seem like you guys eat fruit or veggies, hahaha.