Monthly Archives: October 2013

My thoughts on eating around the bowl

Here, it’s customary to have meals where everyone is seated around and shares from the same plate or bowl. Rice, fish and fries, whatever. Various families do it different ways. Some utensils, some hands. Some seat on the floor some sit on stools. And I’m sure there are other variations I haven’t been exposed to. Some families might not eat around the bowl at all. But from what I’ve experienced, here’s what I think:

  • It’s awesome because if you don’t like something, like an olive, you can just put it back in the middle of the bowl.
  • But sometimes what you want, like the ONE carrot they put in ceebu-jen (it’s not even a whole carrot…what do they do with the rest of it?) is one the opposite side of the bowl of you and not exactly in the middle so you can’t just reach across and cut from it….but I’ve started doing that anyway. My eyes need those carrots!!
  • You don’t have to worry about eating too much because if the plate doesn’t get finished, you’re not the only one at fault.
  • You eat way too much because the bowl usually has enough food to feed 20 people even if there is only 8 people in your family. Self-control Omolayo, self-control. But man, I could honestly just sit around the bowl and finish a whole thing of ceebu-jen myself(as long as they leave me the carrot).
  • Sometimes more people than can actually fit around the bowl are fit around the bowl anyways causing me to almost elbow little girls as I try to maneuver my corner. 
  • Overall, I really enjoy eating around the bowl. I think it’s a fun way to have meals with family and friends – and way less dishes to do once the meal is over! 
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A Day in Paradise

The other Saturday, Oct. 5th, a few of us went to the Iles de la Madeleine. This place was gorgeous! And absolutely worth the small hassle it took to get there. Turns out maybe you  shouldn’t rely on everything a guidebook a few years old says. But we got back and there just fine, so the adventures continue!! =)

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Senegal Top 10

My Top 5 Favorite Things about Senegal!!

  1. The food – literally could eat ceebu-jen for the rest of my life!
  2. Cool breezy evenings – the only escape from the heat
  3. Watching boys dance mbalaxx – This type of music, I honestly cannot find the beat! But it gets everyone here soooo excited!! Plus, (this is a BROAD generalization) the boys here are quite good looking…until they say something and you kind of want to hit them. So watching them preoccupied with mbalaxx is awesome! =)
  4. Being able to walk most places, and if not, take transportation for pretty cheap.
  5. Beautifully dressed people!


My 5 Least Favorite Things about Senegal!

  1. Flies – they’re EVERYWHERE!!
  2. Rainy days – I literally swim to class. I have to walk across streets where the water comes almost to my knees!!
  3. When people say “pst” to get my attention! – “That’s not my name!”
  4. People who laugh in a non-friendly way when you’re trying to speak Wolof…I don’t laugh at people trying to speak English!
  5. A toss-up between the heat, the car exhaust, dodging poop and the gender roles that leave sexism unacknowledged.
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Saturday night, my purse got stolen.

It was nothing tragic – if anything the whole situation was just kind of bizarre. Two friends and I left a party a little before two – quite early for a Senegalese party – so early in fact that all the guests hadn’t arrived yet. The party is in Oukam and we find a taxi that agrees to take us Sacre Coeur 3 for 1,500 CFA. In the taxi, we ask him if he knows the “Immeuble Marima,” – the usual drop off spot for the Sacre Coeur crew since most taximen know it. He says yes. As we’re driving we realize the other two girls live a little further away from it so maybe it’s best he takes us to our houses. One girl lives closer to the Brioche Doree so we ask him to take us there first. “That’ll be 500 CFA more.” So begins a short argument that ends up with us angrily telling him to just drop us off at the Marima even though we agreed on a price before telling him WHERE in Sacre Coeur we wanted to go and that the distance between the Mariama and the Brioche was not 500 CFA.

We storm out of the taxi and start ranting about how nonsensical and full of rubbish the taximan was. The road we’re on is well lite and cars wiz by, but there is little to no foot traffic. We don’t hear a motorbike come from behind us. I soon notice that it’s dangerously close (it’s not uncommon here for people to pull strange maneuvers that leave them quite close to pedestrians – cars and bikes alike). I’m the closest to the road and I turn to tell them not to drive so close to where we’re walking – but the Wolof and French phrases escape – not that I had that much time to formulate them.

The next few moments happen in a span that seem unnaturally slow given the circumstances. Before my words get out, the guy sitting behind grabs my purse. There’s a split second that exists that I could have grabbed it back. The driver pulls forward and my $10 side saddle bag snaps from the chain and they have it instead of me. My mind still hasn’t quite processed what happened. The boys stop their bike a few feet in front of us and stare back at us. We stare back at them. There’s a few more split seconds where I think maybe they know me – otherwise why would you stop and stare at me after taking my bag – they must just be messing with me. Then suddenly everything clicks for the three of us all at once and we yell and run after them, at which time they of course take off, crossing into the main road and leaving us behind.

They got away with about 6,000CFA ($12), some tissue paper, my chapstick and lipgloss, a copy of my passport and the keys to my house (that’s the only thing I really felt bad about because they weren’t my keys, I just got permission to take them upon leaving). Then the taximan, who had gotten back onto the main road, had the audacity to ask us what happened!! I had my phone in my right hand the whole time and I was able to call my host brother to let me in. All in all, we were quite lucky! Particularly since I almost brought 10,000 CFA with me, almost brought the keys for my room (no copy of those) and almost brought my camera! The experience wasn’t traumatizing, just really shocking (interestingly enough, I had also gotten electrocuted earlier that night at the party).

At the end of the day, it was a good learning experience. Just pay the extra 500 CFA to get taken to our door. Hold on tightly to your bag when walking down the street. All three of us agreed that we had started feeling safe in Sacre Coeur 3, and while this doesn’t mean our neighborhood is dangerous, it just reminds us to never let your guard down. In addition, we’re reminded that it’s almost tabaski here (a Muslim holiday celebrating how Abraham was willing to sacrifice Ismael for God, but then didn’t and sacrificed a sheep instead – super watered down version). Holidays mean that people feel pressured to provide large feasts and dress well for family gatherings (or they know people will have more money on them for those same reasons). Either way, theft rate goes up around this time of year.

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