Hi all!! Hope everyone is having a wonderful holiday season! Also hoping maybe one of you could send some colder weather this direction... Senegal has officially entered the "cold season" and just as I had expected...its not cold, with daytime temperatures still reaching between 90 and 100 degrees. The nights, however, do get very pleasant and drop down into the 70's.
I'm hoping to write a longer blog entry within the couple of weeks, though these plans are being slowed by my desire for a vacation! For now I've added some photos of my new family in village and posted them up on photobucket.
the link: http://s1197.photobucket.com/albums/aa428/katierichards0/Sali/
Sorry to say that I have yet to photograph everyone within the family, I think I'm missing a couple kids and my host father. Though I did include pics of my new addition, something every Senegalese is scared of, a kitten!
6:30 AM: The sun rises...i do not
7:00 AM: Wake up with sounds of roosters and women pounding millet
7:30 AM: Make a little oatmeal breakfast over a small gas burner (occasionally I will add some peanut butter or honey, though these days peanuts are way to easy to come by in all my other meals...I could use a break).
8:30 AM: Emerge from my quiet cocoon to walk around the compound and individually greet all the adults of the family
9:00 AM-1:30 PM: Figure out what to do in the middle of nowhere...usually I choose between reading, studying some Wolof, braving the sun and heading to my garden or helping the women and children with whatever chores they have (i.e. cooking, washing clothes, pulling water for the cows etc.)
2:00 PM: The long awaited lunchtime, always consists of rice, usually with a peanut and tomato sauce known as "Mafe." Occasionally, on my favorite days, my mother will incorporate bitter tomatoes (jaxatu) and eggplant (I like to hoard these in my portion of the bowl)
2:30 PM: Too darn hot to do much. Most everyone in the village sits around in the shade, chatting and drinking a strong, sugary tea known as attaaya. My family is lucky this time of year to have a prosperous watermelon farm, so my host father always cracks one open around now.
5:00 PM: Go for an evening run in the middle of the bush. If I pass someone along the way, I try my best to go through the many greetings while panting for air.
6:00 PM: Go with my younger sisters to the well (probably 100 yards behind my house), pull some water and carry it in a tub on my head to my room. Now, I'll have enough to shower tonight and drink the next day.
6:30 PM: Shower, cup and bucket style.
7:00 PM (the sun sets): Emerge again clean...for the most part
7:30 PM: Help the kids burn a pile of peanut plants so we can eat "roasted" peanuts
8:00 PM: Dinner! Always a millet couscous with a peanut or leaf sauce and squash (I hoard the squash).
8:30 PM: I retreat and pass out quickly on my cot to the sounds of my new friends, bats and mice.
On the 11th of November, I arrived here in my new village and its been a crazy transition. My father, Basiru Sarr, (about 35 years old) is a very conservative, repsected figure, and serves as both chief of the village and the village Imam. I haven't gotten too much of an opportunity to chat with him as he has had two bouts of Malaria since I've arrived. He has two wives. The older wife, Fatu, is about the same age as my father and now has six kids. Her kids range in age from two months to 10 years and include one set of twins. The second wife, Hadi, is 20 years old and pregnant with her first child. Two other children live in the house as well. A boy named Mali, about 8 years old, has come to my house to learn the Quran from my father (he stays full time). Another girl, Yamaxadi, is probably also 8 and simply stays at my house because her mother works in another village. On top of this, we have two cows (soon to be three), one donkey, eight goats and way too many chickens (all of which are right next to my room). It sounds like a popping place but its quiet compared to my previous homestay.
All in all, I'm just taking some time to adjust to an extremely rural lifestyle. There really isn't all that much to do yet out in the bush, but I'm hoping to start some projects soon.
Miss you all and hope you all have a great holiday season!