Diary Entries

16th October

By five to ten in the morning, Julia and I had hand-washed our clothes, cleaned the bathroom, kitchen, done the dishes, showered, gotten dressed and eaten breakfast. I’d say that must be a new record of some sort. Last night we went to a different beach, which was closer to Fadiouth, with Oumou, Souleymane and their cousins. The sand was covered in crabs, but luckily they scuttled underground as soon as we started walking across it. It was drizzling a bit whilst we were in the sea, then suddenly a huge rainstorm broke out, so we rushed to get our clothes on and found shelter, by which time we were all drenched and I had goosebumps for the first time since I’ve been in Senegal! There were some Serers standing under the shelter with us and one of them started talking to me in English about the importance of community and how friendship should be valued over money. He was saying how great it was in Fadiouth, because you could find Muslims and Christians in the same family or sharing the same yards. Although Oumou suggested we still went on to Fadiouth, Julia and I thought it might be better to go another time, when our clothes weren’t completely soaking. Every beach we’re been to so far has people exercising or wrestling on it. They seem to be local gyms.

18th October

After requesting I played ‘Saminamina’ (Shakari’s ‘Waka Waka’) Mouhammed and Babo were looking at some of the photos on my laptop. Mouhammed pointed at the one of the burnt pizza and started rubbing his stomach and licking his lips saying how nice it was! At least it wasn’t too much of a disaster in his opinion, ha ha.

On a sadder note, Amadou is in hospital with malaria and needs to stay there for two nights.

Julia’s going to the middle school (CEM) tomorrow to observe a German class with Herr Fall. She taught me a bit of German, as she’s got her first class next week. Sadly I’ve managed to forgot most of it already…

26th October

I observed my first English class in the CEM yesterday, on ‘Dates, Numbers and Irregular Verbs’. The teacher spoke hardly any French to the students, which I thought was encouraging, as it means that it shouldn’t be too different to communicate with them in English for the majority of the time. They’d probably get even more confused if I attempted to speak French to them as well. The class was really responsive and kept clicking and putting their hands up, even jumping out of their seats to answer questions. Every lesson I have to write down what I’ve taught tand the names of missing students, which should be an interesting task, as I don’t know any of their names yet. The second class I watched was on ‘The Present Simple Tense’. You don’t even think about all these different tenses existing until you have to teach them. Luckily there’s a grammar book here that I can use when planning lessons.

29th October

Last night Babo tripped over the cable from the fan and managed to break it. He seems to fall over at least once a day, usually whilst attempting to gab the chocopain at breakfast and flying off his stool in the process. At least he can laugh about it.

Yesterday was Amadou’s birthday. Julia and I went to the market with Oumou and picked him out a checkered shirt. It had silver sparkly buttons, which I didn’t notice until after we’d bought it, but he seemed to like it anyway! We also baked a chocolate cake that turned out a bit more like a brownie. Julia had fun trying to explain what a brownie was to Aicha in French. Amadou forgot that it was his birthday and asked me ‘what do you say when someone wishes you ‘happy birthday?’ ‘thank-you?” He told me that Muslims don’t make a big deal about birthdays. After breakfast, Amadou took me to the hospital, as I’ve been getting flu-like symptoms and swollen glands. We waited an hour and a half before seeing the doctor. I had a blood test to make sure it wasn’t malaria (it wasn’t!) and then I picked up some codeine and ciprofloxin from the pharmacy. I was meant to observe two more English lessons that day, so I had to cancel. Fortunately, I had the school’s phone number, as the class I observed covered phone numbers, and the students were asked to recite the school’s number in English. I wrote it down, thinking it may come in handy sometime, not realising I’d have to use it so soon.

A few hours ago, Amadou called me into the hall and announced that I was on jury duty and Julia was the accused. He revealed that she was on trial because of wearing shorts too often in the house. We decided her punishment should be very severe, (just kidding – she’s only been told not to wear them all the time and to cover up if there are guests in the house).

31st October

‘The German’s are having a wedding!’ were Amadou’s words, as we left for Herr Fall’s house yesterday. Herr Fall is actually the only member of his family who can speak German and it was his brother who was getting married. I really need a little notebook where I can record a list of the things Amadou says. One of the first would have to be from Dakar when Julia had an eye infection and he addressed her with, ‘Julia, wassup-wit-your-eye?’

When we arrived at ‘the German’s house’, it was full of women rushing around preparing food for the celebrations, tiebouchen of course! (still can’t spell it…) We helped out a bit, went home after eating and wrestling with little Mouhammed Fall, (who’s in Marieme’s year at school) then returned for dinner and waited for the arrival of the bride and her family. I had a nap on the sofa around ten o’clock, but awoke an hour later to the sounds of women singing and drumming on kitchen bowls and watched them dancing around the garden. They put on quite a show! When the bride arrived, everyone crowded to the door, pushing and shoving, some almost falling over. A pathway was made for her to walk into the house and her relatives were carrying all her belongings in suitcases or wrapped up in sheets. Once she was inside, clothes were placed over her head and she knelt on the floor, surrounded by women. They poured a bowl of some food (which looked a bit like couscous) over her head and a few of the women pinched a bit for themselves to eat after. We’re going back to Herr Fall’s today to continue the celebrations. Julia’s been given the role of wedding photographer, as she has an impressive looking Canon camera, which luckily didn’t break when we got caught out in the rainstorm!

The other day, when we were skyping our parents, Amadou commented that Julia talks so fast, it seems like there’s no one on the other end of the phone and that she doesn’t pause for the other person to speak. I managed to convince him that she was, in fact, talking to herself.

I’ll sign off with another quote, this time from Julia:

‘Why is there a chicken in our kitchen?’

2nd November

At part-two of the German’s celebrations, we had the best meal I’ve eaten since being in Senegal. It was tiebouyap (like tiebouchen, but with meat instead of fish), though this version of tiebouyap was different to any we’ve had before. The carrots and onions were finely chopped and there was a really nice mix of spices on it, as well as some fried rice, olives and pickled onions. I didn’t eat try the meat of course, but I’m told it was good too. Afterwards, we got given tropical fruit juices, bissap juice, another green fruit juice (the name of which I can’t remember) and ataya. I was sourna trop – very full! Julia was introduced as German and got asked if she was related to Hitler. She replied that he was her uncle.

Julia, Aicha and I went to Mbour yesterday. Julia and I stocked up on chocolates and biscuits, as well as buying mango squash and powdered milk. We’re going to buy our shoes and nail varnish for Tabaski and Marieme’s birthday present when we get to Dakar. We also spontaneously bought new fabric from the tailor’s in Mbour. Julia got a green and white gingham print to make trousers from and Aicha and I chose the same blue and orange patterned fabric for new boubous. Our other boubous came back from the tailor’s last night! Well, my one for Tabaski didn’t, but it should be finished today. They looked really good, though sadly didn’t fit too well, so we’ve taken them to get altered today. The tailors are so busy at the moment because of everyone getting new clothes made for Tabaski, they have been making mistakes with the sizes and designs that people have chosen. Amadou said that a woman was crying in the shop because they had made the wrong design for her dress and it was too late to change.

I’ve developed an attractive rash on my right knee, similar to the one the Julia and Richard had on their feet in Kaolack, though there are only eight spots so far. At least I can always play join-up-the-dots if I’m bored…

Julia went into school to teach her German lesson on numbers today, only to find that Herr Fall wasn’t there and her students demanded that they didn’t have a lesson until after Tabaski. I’m heading into school in about an hour, so I’m hoping a similar thing doesn’t happen with my class!

We leave for Dakar tomorrow afternoon and will be staying there until Tuesday then we’re traveling to Theis and should be home by Wednesday night. It’s going to be an exciting week. The Wone’s are picking out a ram this evening to be slaughtered for the festivities. It’s cheaper to buy rams in Joal, so we’re taking one with us, rather than buying one in Dakar. Having seen some rams being driven around of the roofs of minibuses and taxis, I can only assume that will be how our ram gets transported on our three hour journey with us.

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