Thursday, March 12, 2009

Children are adorable everywhere!

Almost every weekday morning, I leave my house in Liberté 3 at 8am. On my way past the stadium down to the main road, I usually pass a dad walking his 3- or 4-year-old daughter to school. Like most students here, she wears a school uniform. Her school must be a Muslim school, because along with the usual jumper, she also wears the Muslim headscarf (that most Muslims here don't wear). For the first month, she just stared at me when I passed her. (I might be the only white person she's ever seen.) Now, when I wave, she giggles and sometimes even waves back.

This morning, I passed the two of them as usual, but they were in the midst of a major fight, most of it totally unintelligible to me because it's in Wolof. Then, I see her stomp off (like a girl who is 4 going on 15) and whip three braids out of her headscarf so they are sticking straight out from her head in front of her face and so everyone can see the pretty pink beads on the ends of her braids. It made me happy. Kids are adorable everywhere!

Friday, March 6, 2009

Trip to Ile de Ngor

So, yesterday I finished class at noon and I went with Leah, Tiffany and Alex to Ile de Ngor. Since Mom always asks me who I am hanging out with and never actually knows who they are, I thought I'd fill you all in. Leah is considering being a nun and, I think, might actually be able to read my mind. Tiffany hates dogs and cats and when I mention I the book I'm reading involves child abuse, she asks, "Can I borrow it when you're done?" Alex is planning on becoming a sex therapist and has, apparently, a 95% success rate at guessing whether someone's a virgin or not.

So, tales about our trip to Ile de Ngor. We leave from WARC a little after noon. After a little bargaining, we catch a taxi and head out. However, less than a minute into the ride, we pass a bunch of men fighting. Our taxi driver pulls over, apologizes and jumps out. He and some other men separate the fight, while Alex, Tiffany, Leah and I wait patiently. Awkward. But, like nothing happened, the driver comes back jumps in the car and off we go. We drive up the coast, past someone burning trash that has turned the sky around it black with smoke.

We arrive at the beach of Ngor, where we will catch a pirogue to the island. But, before we can do that, we get accosted by a guy who wants to practice his English with us, wants to get our phone numbers and wants us to take his phone number. We give fake names and tell him we don't have phones. This is a particularly bad lie, since my phone is in my back pocket. In Senegal, lying is expected. You can't, however, call it lying-- calling a Senegalese person out on a lie is about the worst thing you can say. Instead, they call it "joking."

So we buy our tickets and head for the pirogue. A pirogue, if you don't know, is a kind of oversized canoe (it can hold 30 people maybe), motorized. They are hotspots for thefts, just like the cars rapides. To get on the pirogue, they have a little dock, but it's only about a foot long, so we end up wading knee-deep in the water anyway and then flinging ourselves onto the boat. The trip to the island doesn't take long-- maybe 5 minutes. The boat is, of course, full of both toubabs and Senegalese people who either work or live on the island. As we "dock" at the island, one toubab asks another toubab, "Do you think we can leave our bags on the boat?" Yeah... only if you don't want it back.

The island was beautiful. It had some too-typical aspects to a Senegalese tourist spot, though. The people mobbing you with stuff to buy. Although, if we explained clearly in our best French and Wolof that we didn't have the money, they tended to get the picture-- not like at Goree. There were occasional places that were covered in trash. Besides this, though, it was fabulous. We had crepes and drinks at a local hotel-restaurant and we chilled on the beach for a while. We even played our own home-made version of scattergories, something the whole group has begun to do recently in a desperate attempt for entertainment. This is where we decided that Leah can read my mind-- we had the same answers, the same categories. Problem. :)

The ride back involved the same flinging-yourself-onto-the-pirogue procedure as before only this time without even the little dock. I lost and retrieved my flipflop three times in this endeavor, but we all made it on.

To catch a taxi, we walked a little ways from the beach in order to avoid the outrageous prices that the taxi drivers were offering to gullible toubab tourists. As we bargained with one taxi driver, another pulled up. As exhausting as this process is, I love it. To me it's the essence of capitalism.

After a long exhausting day at the beach :) we relaxed at La Gandole, our favorite toubab resaurant.