Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Verrrry Niiiiice!

(20.10.09) I am going to kick our ram and rooster in their heads! The ram “baas” all day and all night right outside my window and it sounds like an old lady who smokes a lot yelling “baaaaaag”. I wonder if he needs water or food. I don’t like him very much, the first day I went in the backyard he tried to attack me! Mbakaye said it’s because he doesn’t know me. The rooster starts at four in the morning, the same time the Muslim chants start on the speakers around town. He cock-a-doodles, then you can hear another one respond to him somewhere in the neighborhood, and then he goes at it again till about 12 pm. Today I had my first day of French class with Monsieur Mboudji. My class is at the all girls school, Ameth Fall, which is the same school that Nogaye and Seynabou go to. He’s crazy!! He told me that his favorite musical artists are Bruce Springsteen and Otis Redding. We did some very elementary review stuff, (numbers, verb conjugation, asking questions and talking about yourself) and every time I finished an exercise he said “Tu es tres fort!(you are strong) Verrry niiice!”. We talked about our families and how animals here are only for necessary things; work or food, not for pleasure. After class he walked me to the projects abroad office where I met up with Nicholas and Elizabeth who are also rotary scholars. I asked them if they would walk around with me, and they did! I’m still trying to get used to everything here; how to get around, where things are, and how to react to the different people in the streets. There are vendors yelling at you to buy their stuff, dirty talibé kids asking for money, pretty women in brightly colored dresses and EVERYBODY is looking at you. After we walked around, we ate at a Lebanese restaurant, then I walked home (30-40min). On the bridge, Le Pont Faidherbe, there was a cool wind, and everything was okay.
Tomorrow I have to take a taxi to school. It’ll be my first time taking one by myself. At first I was scared but every day I feel better about being independent here. 
Oh! Also, I’m going to pick out what kind of garment I’m going to make with the fabric I bought on Sunday. Very exciting!!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Nanga Def!

I am in Saint Louis Senegal… I arrived in Dakar Thursday morning. as soon as I got off the plane I was instantly hit by the humidity and 80 degree temperature at 6am. An airport attendant help me get my bags on a cart, (he worked there so I thought he was legit), and rolled them to the exit (sortie). I didn’t see a projects abroad sign anywhere so I started to panic. The attendant waited with me and let me use his phone to call the projects abroad office. After the phone call the attendant said, “As-tu quelque chose pour moi?” (do you have anything for me?) I said, “tu veut l’argent?” (you want money?) I started to pull out a couple of dollar bills but he saw a ten and kept asking for it……..i gave it to him. As soon as I handed the ten over, Papis one of the projects abroad coordinators arrived and picked up my bags. I was glad that the attendant helped me but I didn’t think he would ask me for money. He is getting paid by the airport right?
We left the airport by taxi. Then we took the taxi to a gare des taxi which is a big taxi station that kinda of reminded me of the cherry auction. There were a lot of people trying to sell fruits, vegetables, shoes, sim cards, or just plan ole asking for money. At the Gare there are taxis that drive longer distances; we needed to go from Dakar to Saint Louis about a 250 mile drive. I was slightly scared being there. The sun hadn’t yet risen and vendors kept swarming to me because they knew I was not from there. We found our taxi which was a sept places(seven seater) and I sat between papis and a woman who fell asleep as soon as the car started.
The drive took about 5 hours! Here are some highlights
• I held my pee as long as I could because I didn’t want to stop at a random place and get kidnapped.
• The baobab trees are amazing! There are fields of them
• The Tour de Senegal passed us! And there were African cyclists!
• I was on the edge of my seat and tried to fight off sleep because they drive super crazy! There are lanes on the road but nobody stays in them. PLUS all the cars go slow, so when our driver tried to pass the extremely slow cars, we were in the opposite lane for about 3 minutes as cars were coming towards us head-on.
• A girl in our taxi spoke English and was very nice and wanted to be our friend. Fati is a student at the university in Saint Louis, studying English and anthropology.
• I huge locust flew through the window and scared the shit out of me.

We made it safely to my host family’s house and I went to sleep as soon as I got there.
My Family:
• Mother: Madame Awa
• Father: Monsieur Mamadou
• Kids:
o Nogaye 14 year old girl
o Mbakaye 17 year old boy
o Mody 13 year old boy
o Seynabou 13 years
o Moustapha 8 years
o Khady 24 years (shes only here on the weekends)
It’s been really fun with them. They’ve been helping me with my French (and wolof the native language) and I with their English. A very interesting thing happened last night. We were all sitting in the living room watching t.v. and Nogaye asked me, “ Tu es tres jolie, pourquoi pas moi”/“You are very pretty, why am I not?” I instantly said “No, No, No!! tu es jolie aussi” “you are also pretty” but that was all the capacity of my French could do. I have sooo much I could say if we were speaking English, but we weren’t so that was the end of that. It’ll probably come up again and I’ll try to be better prepared. 
A lot of things have been happening pertaining to my “beauty”. Emily, one of the projects abroad coordinators told me that the guys here thing I am a “Métis” to them. Métis are women of mixed descent (African and European) who are in the upper-class and business owners. Friday night all of the volunteers went out to the bars to listen to live reggae bands (emphasis on live). Emily and I danced, and every time I spoke to someone, usually a guy, their end goal was to get me to go somewhere with them or give them my number. One guy even told me he’s an African lion…..ok.
A bientôt !

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

7 Days........

I've 7 days left here in Fresno until I leave for Senegal. Each day I get more and more excited and nervous. I've actually started to lay things out that I plan on taking with me, organize my stuff and put them in my pack.
In these last 7 days I want to try to fit in as many "Fresnian" things in as possible:
  • Tonight is Poetry Jam
  • Tomorrow Bill and I are going to the Big Fresno Fair!
  • Japanese Kitchen....mmm
  • Hang out with the doggies and friends at the dog park
  • Chipotle......mmm
  • Dance Saturday night in Tower
  • Church on Sunday
  • And there's probably more

This is my first post in this thing so I don't have much to say yet. I will later...