Frogs, dirt and toubabs.
Trip Start Sep 14, 2012
11Trip End Aug 16, 2013
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The rest of Sunday was spent quite lazily (Senegalese just love chilling), and the rest of the girls came over so we went for a walk on the beach. It brimming full of locals; there were thousands, swimming, wrestling, socialising. We couldn’t see for people! We got hassled quite a bit by 'charity workers’, so we had found an emptier stretch of beach and had a quick swim in the sea. When we got out a man with a baby approached us. At first, we thought he was another charity worker, but he had come over to tell us that we weren’t allowed to swim because we were on the religious section of the beach! Now the Yoff beach is huge. HUGE! And trust us to swim in the Muslim part…! (Only the toubabs!)
Monday was a long day
Joal is a fishing town on the coast of Senegal. It’s renowned for the mixture of ‘types’ of Senegalese people who have travelled here to make a living fishing. Christians and Muslims live peacefully together and there are Serer, Pulaar, Fulani, Wolof people (and some others I can’t remember). There is a small island off the coast called Fadiouth which is all Christian – we have yet to visit though we’re told it’s made up entirely of shells and has pigs walking around everywhere.
When finally in Joal, we met Amadou – our host (could be a little cartoon muslim) , Aicha – his wife, and Marième – their 4 year old daughter. Their son and nephew, Mouhamed and Souleymane are on holiday and return in October. They’re very lovely and very Muslim (we’ve disturbed Amadou about 4 times whilst he was praying, and he refused to shake Amée’s hand!) Amadou gave us ‘the talk’ about the men in Joal and how they will use us for one way flight to Europe
Joal itself… very muddy, dirty, sandy, poor and muddy. The people here are evidently poorer and we stand out with our clean/decent quality clothes. As if people don’t stare enough!! Every time we step out the children shout ‘toubab’ or ‘Ammi’ and ‘Katti’ but always smile and wave too. Amee described it aptly ‘it’s as if they have tourettes!’ and we (Amee especially) have had love declared and marriage proposals
On Tuesday we went to the market and bought some rather loud material for ‘boubou’s (Senegalese dresses) and food supplies. Imagine a small shack, a bit like a ship container, with a counter, a large log of wood and a piece of corrugated cardboard on top. Now cut some meat on top of the cardboard with a rusty hatchet and you have a Senegalese boucherie! Incidentally, the meat and noodles that we ate were a pretty nice variation to fish, rice, fish and rice.
We’re gradually picking up Wolof, though when the locals talk to us we are completely lost and they laugh at us! ‘Amée, what’s the big joke? Why are they laughing?’ ‘Katie, I think the joke is us!’
Amée and I went for a walk around the maze of dried mud tracks. We walked past some children playing football (a serious game, not one ‘toubab!’) We met one woman who kept ‘merci’ing us for our work here although I couldn’t help myself from laughing as her handheld radio started issuing the screeches of a cat. Another woman asked me for my clothes. As we returned to the house we heard children chanting. We went to explore, only to arrive as they finished and we were subject to 70ish excited children screaming ‘toubab’!! They started shaking our hands, grabbing our arms, pulling our clothes and pockets, it was chaos and we were surrounded!! Eventually we dragged ourselves away only to be followed down the street
Wednesday, we got our bikes repaired (for less than £1!). The bike repair shop was something else – around 10 boys under the age of 15 and 4 men working on motor/bikes with no protection against oil, soldering irons, blowtorches. Their clothes were very torn and so dirty; I wanted to give them all a good wash! We also sorted through lots of papers from the past 2 year’s volunteers, lots of teaching resources! Aicha gave us a letter from Ciara and Julia ( last year’s vols) who have told us which places to visit and explore. Amadou showed us videos from a wedding here complete with the slaughter of a cow! Lots of chilling and relaxing so I’ve been reading my Bible a lot, feeling a real sense of peace.
Thursday I had trouble sleeping with heat, mozzy net and Jacques being his pesky self. Also awoke to a rustling, turns out we have resident mice! Gaffa taped up our food and put them in a container! We did our first load of laundry, hand washing, very therapeutic! (Dad would be proud!) Went to the post office with my first postcards for 2 weeks time – I hope they arrive! Had to buy air mail envelopes from a corner shop, the vendor told us he was Obama’s brother and that he wanted us to be his wives so that we could ‘fill his heart with love…’ It then started thundering and lightning (funny as Amadou had said that morning the rainy season was over!) We waded our way through the market where we were given ‘Senegalese tea’, a mixture of herbal tea and sugar, tasted a bit like soap and not very enjoyable
Joal is much more basic and primitive than I’d imagined, but I’m enjoying living the life of a local and finally feel as though I’m somewhere where I can make a genuine difference to people’s lives. My dreams of living in poverty and doing something about it are being realised it would seem! I really can’t wait to start working; we begin observing Amadou on Monday. We are hoping to go to church in our boubous tomorrow and probably chill some more! Thanks for reading my ramble, I’ll post again soon.
Over and out!