Yes folks, I can’t believe it either- but it’s my final day in Senegal. As I woke up this morning to the sun streaming through my mosquito net and the sound of pots and cheb-bowls clanging together out my bedroom window, I realized that this is the last time I will be enjoying these events. What a bittersweet experience it is! I am very torn about the whole thing. Half of me is psyched to get back to America with its warm showers, and all the other perks living in a first-world country can bring. This whole week I have had this feeling of “being ready” to have new adventures. To move on to the next experience. But on the other hand, I am extremely apprehensive to leave. I am going to miss so many things about Dakar- not the least of which is my host family!
But enough of that emotional mumbo-jumbo. It’s time to tell you about my week!
What a week it was!
Monday and Tuesday were devoted to wrapping up loose ends in my academic life here. Wolof Final, Papers, Re-entry session, the works.
Tuesday night we had our final farewell dinner with the program. It was a beautiful evening. Many students shared their talents with us- My friends Rachel and Chris did their own rendition of “baby it’s cold outside” a capella and I was floored by how talented they are! I had made some group superlatives for everyone in the form of a slideshow and that went over very well!
Wednesday was many people’s last day in Dakar, so we spent most of the day on the beach playing ultimate Frisbee and checking out a dead fish that was the size of a basketball. Afterwards I met up with my friends Kira and Talisa to go on an ingredient-finding mission in order to cook dinner for Talisa’s family that night. We had so much fun preparing dinner with them all and I fell absolutely in love with her 3-year-old sister Binta (or Fifi, as she was called). Talisa’s family enjoyed our vegan meal of “swimming Rama”, and didn’t complain too much that freezer water had gotten all over our no-bake cookies! The evening ended with a trip to Rachel’s house to see her off and help her take her bags to Brioge D’oree- where she would be meeting the bus.
Thursday I was fortunate enough to be involved in a Senegalese Wedding! My host-cousin Omi was marrying a man from St. Louis (Senegal of course) but here is the kicker- despite being actively involved in the wedding festivities, I still have never laid eyes on either of them! Nether was in attendance! You see, here in Senegal weddings are more of a family affair- even to the point that the date is set regardless of weather the couple can be in attendance. In fact, Omi is in Paris currently. The groom simply could not make it because he had to work . For me, the day was a gamish of bright colored boubous, wonderful food, and lots… I mean LOTS of people!
From the very moment I woke up I was enlisted to help make goody bags. This chore would take over most of my day- between cutting small fabric circles to wrap candy in, to making beignets and bonbons with Mam Mbinda (remind me to tell you the story about the Cous Cous lady if you get a chance!) , to packing the bags and tying them with little white bows, the 500 bags we made took well into the afternoon to finish.
I have to admit, that with so many people around and all the confusion and noise, I had to escape to my room to breathe more than once. It was quite overwhelming. Around noon we took a break from bag-making to enjoy Cheebu Jenn for lunch. At that point there were only about 50 people in the house, and we were all fed traditional Senegalese-style around the cheb bowl! Bowls were assigned to you based on your age and gender- so I was placed at a bowl with my sisters and their friends. By that point we had run out of spoons, so I spent the meal trying to look graceful eating with my hand. When that failed, I resorted to just trying not to get chebb on the dress my sister Mimi had given me the day before.
The actual wedding part started around 5 that evening and took place in my parent’s bedroom. It consists of a praying ceremony wherein the brothers and fathers of the bride and groom exchange gifts to bond their families together, but I was not actually able to attend. Only men are invited to this part of the festivities. Because of this, Kira and I escaped to my room to give ourselves henna tattoos.
After the ceremony, it was time to party! A large tent had been set up outside my house for dancing and other festivities
Most of the under-30 crowd, however, hung out in Issa and Habib’s room and enjoyed the different fried foods that had been made for the occasion. As the evening died, I was invited to have dinner with Issa and his friend around a small bowl- chicken and couscous . habib and his friends joined us, and we all had a conversation about the educational system in America to end the night on an academic note.
Yesterday, like all Fridays, was a pottery studio day!
I really adore the pottery studio. Making funny faces at the deaf children in order to communicate, working on beautiful artwork together, being served atyya every time we turn around- it really is great. However, I will NOT miss the CONSTANT proposals (yes… marriage proposals) from Amed. He is really crazy. Earlier in the semester he was in love with Annelise, than Gina, then Samantha’s sister who came to visit for only a week, and now it’s my turn. Here is a picture of me trying to stab him with a pottery knife (do not worry- it’s a joke!)
WARNING! The next part of the story gets a little gross. You may want to skip this paragraph if you have a weak stomach
This particular Friday the new puppy (she has been there for two weeks now. Her name is still in dispute) was acting particularly sickly and Samantha noticed she had a little abscess on her ear. Samantha decided she was going to give puppy a bath, so we began to gather a bucket and soap. At this point, a French woman came into the pottery studio. Samantha showed her the puppy and the French woman saw how bad the puppy’s ear looked. The French woman announced “this puppy has worms”, but we were doubtful. At this point, the French woman squeezes the abscess on the puppy’s ear and it pops open and shoots puss, blood, and yes… a worm, across the yard. There was enough pressure behind that thing that it actually shot a good 6 feet. After that, the French woman, Samantha, and Amed, proceed to pull 12 worms from various parts of the puppy’s skin- mostly her feet and tail and then give her a good bath. Here is a picture of the worms once evacuated from their puppy-home
…and the happy de-wormed puppy….
After that we went back to painting pottery. Here is my finest creation:
After that, I met up with Talisa at the Oakam bus stop to buy more groceries for yet another cooking endeavor- this time at Kira’s house.
We had a great time cooking spaghetti. And by cooking spaghetti I really mean throwing carrot peels and noodles at each other and Talisa whipping me with a towel. I don’t remember a time when I laughed that much! But Kira’s family enjoyed our Spaghetti and fruit salad. We ended the night painting our nails and learning the card game “gin rummy” from Kira on my bedroom floor- where we usually play cards. I am not so good at that game. Presidents, Nerts, Eucre and Schmivvy are more my speed.
And with that, you are caught up on my life and last week in Senegal. Woot! What a post!
Though this is not the last of my Senegal posts (I plan to make one more before leaving the country, and keep up with my blog during my re-adjustment to America) I would like to thank you all for following me on my adventure this far. I hope you have enjoyed the blog and I love and miss every one of you! See you soon Inschallah!