Allah taw-en Nargaro!
Trip Start Mar 15, 2005
27Trip End Apr 01, 2007
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Alhumdouliliah, the fast is OVER. Though most of you are not celebrating the start of a'new year', I send my best wishes for health, happiness, and ..in the spirit of the Senegalese..money, to all of you in the coming year! Yesterday was Korite, (pronounced core-ee-tay)for many of Kolda's residents, the celebration of the end of fasting and the beginning of a hopefully prosperous new year. I say 'many' of Kolda's residents because the celebration depends on the sighting of the moon, and in some areas of the city (thankfully not mine) the moon was not sighted. The celebration in my area happened yesterday, however today much of the city is closed down because half of the people are celebrating today.
The festivities were a full day affair, and included LOTs of eating. Im fairly certain i gained back the 4 or 5 pounds i had lost in a single day. The men, older women and small children went to the mosque around nine for prayer while women of child bearing age remained in the compound. I ate my first lunch at 9:30. Rice with onions and hot pepper with some 'meat' of unknown origin tossed in. I'm fairly certain i was eating cow intestines, but to be truthful..i wasnt that concerned with specifics. Yum.
The neighborhood elders began to arrive soon after my host father and brothers returned from prayer. They sat around throwing greetings back and forth for about twenty minutes. I did my fair share of the same when they jovially noticed that i was helping the women cook. For some reason it astonished them that i was able to weild a knife to cut onions. Ladies of America..the impression here is that cooking does itself where we're from! im doing my best to change that misunderstanding, but its slow going.
Have i mentioned the 'greeting process' here? In the states, if you see someone you know on the street as you're heading to work you throw out a 'hey, how are you?' 'im fine, good to see you'..that is, if you dont avoid eye contact because you dont have the time to acknowledge the aquaintence.
Here...its a little different. when i say that they tossed greetings back and forth for twenty minutes, im not exagerating. let me demonstrate a VERY typical exchange.
'no mbada?' *hows it going
'jam tan' *peace only
'tana alla?' *no struggles?
'hono galle ma?' *hows your home?
'hono sukabe ma?' *how are the kids?
'hono golle?' *hows work?
'Alhumdouliliah' *praise be to God
'ca va?' *hows it going
'ca va bien' *its going well
'hono bandu ma?' *hows your body?
'hono sumai o?' *how was the fast?
'no ruki dey' *it was difficult, but worth it
'no marsude?' *things are going ok?
'seeda seeda' *little by little
'hono baaba ma?' *hows your father?
'jam tan mbo woni' *hes fine
and the list could go on...and on..
and this is only with one person asking the questions and the other answering..if the questions aren't repeated by every party present..that would be rude. so, when you get ten or so elders together its rather comical to watch them go through the dance of greeting...and tiring. I used my foreigner smile and curtsie as a convinient excuse to cut the greetings short and get back to the onions.
10:30, Lunch number two happend behind the bamboo thatch where the women were cooking and the men couldnt see us. (they didnt know that lunch number 2 happened at all :) Mariama, my host mom cooked up some onions in mustard and vinegar and fried the liver of the cow. delicious.
Lunch number three happened at the regular lunch time, 1:30. It was a Senegalese staple, chebogen. Rice cooked in oil and a tomato paste with veggies on top (manioc, potato, carrot, and you guessed it..more onions).
After people eat lunch, many of them get dressed up in their best clothes and walk around the neighborhood greeting everyone and wishing them a happy new year. The children have a tradition very similar to trick or treating. (there are some adults who do it too, but generally thats frowned upon)
Kids walk into your compound and say 'mi ari, salibo' which is basically 'i'm here, give me something'. Fairly offensive if you're not forewarned, which has happened to an occasional volunteer..thankfully I was prepared, and kept some mint candies in my back pocket for most of the day, and when the crowds werent too big i handed them out. Some people give money, and even rice and sugar if thats what they have.
The afternoon was passed outside the compound listening to music and drinking kreme (plastic bags full of a sugary juice mixture that have been semi frozen).
The eating continued until well after dark. i'll skip the details and close with how nice it was to have a full belly and celebrate the end of one of the longest months i can remember. Thank you all for your support and encouragement. If you've never tried fasting..even for a day or two, i would highly recommend it.
The garden is going well, my rabbit hutches are done..waiting for occupants, and my first 'girls club' outing went off without a hitch. (two other volunteers and I each bring one or two young girls into Kolda and expose them to activities that they otherwise would never see. This week i taught five girls how to transplant flowers and make banana bread), but more about that another time!
Thanks again to all,