after french class today, Alana and I went to the school for the deaf. It was an amazing experience and I can’t wait to go back again and again. Its opened the doors wide open of my planned ASL minor and in short, ‘I loved it.’
another first for me today… I was offered a ride on a moped by a stranger. unfortunately, the SST safety guidelines and my own knowledge of Dakar’s traffic persuaded me to say no. I talked with the guy for a while though… only to part in disbelief that I had actually turned down my one chance to ride a moped through the lawless traffic of Dakar. so it goes…
Dakar’s generating power has been crippled for some time so the city rotates its electricity around to different areas. Alana and I set out in search for a cyber cafe tonight only to have the zones switch on us while walking. luckily it came back on at a cyber near her house after waiting for a few minutes.
Its a shame that I have to leave this city in a week as I am now finally comfortable with it. I can bargain for a “senegalese price” at the market and with the taxis. I’ve aquired a little more appreciation for chebu jenn. I still love mangos.
Perhaps my most unsuspected adaptation as of yet is typing on the French Keyboard. Gone are the days of searching for minutes for the question mark or quotes. Letters and punctuation in different random locations?… not a problem!
I spoke to soon.
the day after I wrote “I’m in good health” I fell hard to the power of an upset stomach. nothing settled well yesterday, although after a little ‘maintenance,’ my stomach started over without a problem after two sprites.
Its our last weekend in Dakar since next weekend the group will be taking a weekend trip to St Louis, a northern city in Senegal. the following week we’ll split up for our service assignments, where I’ll also be going to St Louis along with Brad… working at a vetrinary/horticulture school.
we’ve been having lectures lately on womens issues, politics, and environmental concerns in Senegal. There are some things to be admired and some to hope for change. For example, Senegal’s president is more like a king and rules over the prime minister. Many think that he will postpone the next election so that he can finish rebuilding an elaborate major coastal road, the corniche. He’s spending money on his legacy, not the real needs of the Country. Once you’ve seen other governments, you appreciate the stability and checks and balances that are present in our constitution.
I got a haircut today. the odd thing is I’m not sure how it happened. looking back I remember Gwen saying ‘Nate, you need a haircut’ and a few days later I found myself walking to her house for her to cut it. so it goes…
another thing, I’ll be honest in saying that things aren’t always ‘hunky dorey’ here in Senegal. Some of the events in the past few days have sent me on a little of a rollercoaster. I won’t speak of them here (online), but I have done alot of thinking, talking with others, and journaling.
humorously, alot of us have had instances where we’ve turned locals’, mostly children, world upside down. It sometimes happens when we greet kids in wolof (naga deff)… they stand there with a blank and confused look for a minute. I think the same thing happened today as a bunch of us started using the little wooden sticks, think a big toothpick that costs 25 CFA, to clean our teeth after eating.
I am in good health.
this morning our group took an hour long bus ride to a monastary outside of Dakar. Although I couldn’t understand the Latin or French very well, it was a very peaceful time. The mosaics of the church were beautiful. I can still smell the incense and see the soft warm faces of the monks. It was my first catholic mass but I took a liking, and a respect, to the melodious readings and songs. I knew it was a special place and it was saddening to realize during the service that I’ll never be able to return to that church again in my life.
It’s hard to believe what happened last night. Charles, made the contacts to join a Rugby team while here in Dakar and last night his team played in the Senegal Cup Championship and won. Needless to say, he was the only tubob (white person) on the team but had alot of experience from HS and started. We went to watch and cheer. It didn’t seem right to yell in French (try yelling ‘huit’ really loud. ‘eight’ is much better) so we gave Charles some strong english cheers and heckling instead.
I love the weekends. after spending time this morning with the family, we’re headed back to the beach to get rocked by the waves. mmmm
I just uploaded more pictures onto the photo album so check ‘em out. There are also more photos on the GC SST updates.
It was strange… but yesterday was the first time that I had a completly independent thought about home. Now, I’ve obviously thought about my family and friends when explaining my upbringing to senegalese and other students, but this was the first time that I thought, “I wonder whats going on right now on the farm.”
Other than that, I’ve been able to live here in the moment, in Senegal, in Dakar with both feet planted in the culture here. There have been a few times where I’ve had to email about ‘buisness,’ like getting a job next year at the hospital or how to return my keys to GC without getting a fine. Not bad I think. Other than that my communication is mostly one-way, via this blog. Thanks for reading it and supporting me.
Its getting humid here in the cyber and there are many pre-teen boys playing a silly RPG called ‘Tibia.’ It gets a little loud and obnoxious at times but since they speak mostly in wolof its easy to block it out. I get a little humor and satisfaction when fathers come in and pull their sons away from the computer by their arms. another popular computer game here is ‘need for speed III.’ It funny to remember playing that same exact game when I was 13… getting called to stop playing and eat dinner.
Yesterday we visited Goree Island, a small island 20min off the coast of Dakar. It is only 300 meters wide and 900 meters long. With a population around 1,200 people, its entire economy relies on tourism.
Why do tourists come? Goree was the last stop for most of the slaves headed to the americas. During the slave trade it was controlled by many nations, the Dutch, Portugese, French, and English. In the morning we had a tour of the Isle including a slave house where slaves were held while waiting for the boats to take them across the Island. It was sureal to stand in the same rooms where so many people were packed in as beasts and animals. We also walked up to the ‘door of no return’ where a plank would connect the building to the boat.
Despite the significance of the events on the Isle, by the end of the afternoon, the haggling, bargaining, and annoying merchants soon blotted much of the experience from my mind. After bargaining for 30min in french and wolof, I had a few paintings, a few less CFA and less memories and comprehension of meaning behind the morning’s tours.
I guess its the reality of it. I shouldn’t expect myself to comprehend the millions of slaves that passed through the Island. It is sure to take time and reflection… much longer than a day’s worth.
whew… yesterday was long and honestly boring. I guess thats what happens when you start at 8am with the highlight of the day, jogging. the rest of the day consisted of relaxing, journaling, reading, napping, etc. It’s all good until 5pm rolls around and you have cabin fever. Eric and I decided to walk around Dakar a bit. We saw an interesting traffic jam due to cars parked on both sides of a small street and stubborn taxis refusing to yeild.
That reminds me, the other week I saw a scooter gang. yes, a scooter gang. For some reason motorcycles are far less popular here than scooters. However, the scooters look like ‘street bikes,’ ‘krotch rockets,’ or ‘rice burners,’ whichever term you prefer. In short, they’re fancy looking street cycles except you have a place for your feet in front of you. Ok, back to the scooter gang… I saw them ride bye in a pack and later on my walk they had blocked off a section of road that I usually walk on (it has no speed bumps) and were racing and pulling wheelies… on scooters.
after visiting a few cybers in the area, I think I’ve found one to keep. Its nearby, the computers are stinkin fast and its about 40 cents (200 CFA) per hour.
In the past few days we have frequented the beach a few times during lunch or when class is canceled. you have to be flexible with time and schedules in Senegal and if it means random trips to the ocean for big waves, sun, sand and boogie boards, I’m all about it.
In an hour we’re going back for our second session on the Jembe (traditional hand-drum) and dancing. At first it was difficult to strike the drum and get the 3 different tones, but after a little practice, it came.
In the evening I like to ‘hang out’ in the kitchen with my host mom, practicing french and learning about senegalese cooking and ingredients. Last night she said she was going to cook ‘eggs and spaghetti.’ I said I was very curious to see this since we only eat spaghetti with meat and tomatoes in the states. I thought that maybe the eggs were incorporated into a sort of sauce… but no. it was much simpler. We cooked the spaghetti, fried some eggs and onions (with a some other seasonings), and at the end she said ‘regarde’ (look) as she put the eggs on top of the spaghetti. We had a chuckle as to how simple it turned out to be.