Sunday, August 23, 2009

Dirty Laundry

It is impossible to wear clothes more than once here/ attempt to get through a whole day in one outfit because you sweat so much and smell so incredibly bad. And, you know for me not to want to be around myself is a big deal. It was laundry day chez ma famille so I took part. All the women in the family have to wash all day to get it done. When I did my laundry at the training center, it was a sad, sad excuse, but all I really wanted was for my clothes to smell like soap and not sweat. Here each woman has three buckets because it’s necessary to wash the clothes twice in soapy water and then one to rinse. The women here are amazing at it. I was doing it wrong for an hour with people laughing at me before my mom helped. My knuckles are raw because of it. It’s very important to use the knuckles of your right hand to scrub the clothes on the palm of your left hand. Who knew? I thought you just pressed start on the machine.

I took the laundry opportunity to discuss gender roles with my family since that’s one of PC’s goals. It didn’t go over well. I told the men in my family that men in the US did their own laundry to which my dad responded that they are not real men. He also went on to say that I was terrible at doing laundry and that he couldn’t believe I had a boyfriend since I would make a terrible wife. It seems my fast wit, US citizenship, and ability to look ravishing while squatting over a bucket sweating my ass off aren’t enough to compensate for my poor laundry skills.

Today was also the start of Ramadan, which really has no implications on me except that Muslims can’t sing, dance, play music, or… beat drums. Thank god, I will get some sleep and maybe even without earplugs. While everyone in my family is fasting, my sister did make me lunch which she forced me to eat all of so when in the evening I had to eat both a break fast meal as well as dinner I wasn’t hungry. This only exacerbated the “you don’t eat problem.” I’m excited to go back to Thies tomorrow just to go out to a restaurant. While I’m not craving anything specific, I am craving something that is not rice and fish. You can only eat rice and fish so many days in a row.

I’m definitely still struggling with my service. Is it going to be fulfilling. Volunteers always say you need to be satisfied with letting the Senegalese know American’s are not evil. While it’s incredibly difficult to remain positive when walking down the street with people screaming derogatory slurs at you and then asking for money it’s also really fun when my brother asks me why everyone in the US robs banks. I had to explain that it’s just in the movies. It’s impossible to explain the riches of the US to people here. All my brother wants to do is be a pilot, but he can’t get into college because my family doesn’t have enough money to pay off the corrupt officials who control the entrance exam. He can’t fathom that Matt works for an aerospace company. My sister who wants to be a fashion designer is obsessed with my GAP skirt and no one can comprehend the ease with which Americans glide through everyday life. It’s a struggle every day here and a lot of the time I wish I could jump in my Volvo and go to an air conditioned Trader Joes for some vegetables.

1 comment:

  1. Can't do laundry? There goes the dowry your dad was hoping for in Senegal!