September 21, 2009
I was able to sleep in a little bit, until the heat became insufferable, today and I’m feeling a lot better. Especially since two nights ago I went to bed at 2:30am. Even though I slept in I was awake before the rest of the house and was able to take a bucket bath and lounge in my room before my four year old little cousin who’s visiting for Korite busted into my room. While I finally felt rested, I couldn’t stop the crushing force of homesickness from bearing down upon me. I’ve definitely been homesick before, but this is suffocating. I feel it coming on, but I can’t do anything to stop the onset. Since I arrived in Senegal, once I’ve felt the wave of homesickness approaching I hunckered down for an absolutely miserable day. Today, for some reason, I was able to overcome my sadness and have a pretty good day.
In no small way was I able to stop the homesickness because I actually had things to do. The extended family who is visiting right now are much more social than my family. They currently live in Dakar, but the husband grew up here so his friends are always coming over to visit. Today, there were probably 15 men in the 20-30 something age range at my house for lunch. This was infinitely entertaining. All the women were preparing my favorite lunch… prison gruel…but the guys requested I stay and sit with them under the tree and receive marriage proposals. Since I was in front of my family who know I’m not married I couldn’t play the nice marriage card and had to circumnavigate marriage proposals Senegalese style.
After formal greetings
Man: You are very beautiful
Me: Thank you
Man: Are you American?
Man: You are a very nice girl. Are you married?
Me: No, I’m not married, but I have a boyfriend/
Man: Is your boyfriend in Senegal?
Me: No. He’s in the US working.
Man: You need a Senegalese husband.
Me: I don’t want or need a husband
Man: (laughter) You would want a husband if you got to know me
Me: I’m in Senegal to work
Man: You are very beautiful. Will you marry me?
Me: No you are too ugly (this is a socially acceptable way to decline a marriage proposal)
Man: (laughter) Why wont you marry me.
Me: You are too poor and stupid (also socially acceptable)
Man: How can I get you to marry me?
Me: You must do my laundry and cook for me (these are women’s chores in Senegal. My family/ men I meet think that my dad, CJ, and Matt are the most emasculated men in the US because I’m always trying to prove US gender equality by saying they cook, clean, and help out around the house. Senegalese men find this ridiculous and generally ask me why I’m dating a pansy. I try to explain that this is normal and expected in the US. They don’t believe me.)
This conversation in slightly different forms was repeated with multiple men in front of the rest of the group for several hours. While at first amusing I soon got bored and went to peel garlic for dinner with the women. They find it hilariously funny whenever I do house work. My mom particularly enjoys watching me sweep with the squat broom since supposedly I do it incorrectly. How many ways are there to sweet using a bundle of sticks?
Other amusing tid bits from today:
1. I made a small child puke today. A woman brought her approximately 18 month old son into our compound. He saw me and was scared and hid behind his mom. He peaked out, saw me again, and started to cry uncontrollably. He cried until he was so upset that he vomited in the middle of my family’s compound. Have you ever made some one throw up? Yeah, that’s what I though.
2. We had a snack tonight that was shrimp chips. Yes, weird. I went to see what was going on in the kitchen and my sister told me the pastel colored, quarter sized things she was throwing into oil to make tortilla chip sized were shrimp chips. Obviously, I was incredulous and asked many questions. She got annoyed and showed me the box, which did indeed have a picture of shrimp on it. I ate them. They were ok, but did taste slightly of crustaceans. Photos will be uploaded later.
3. I started reading a book that will help me study for the LSAT. It gave test taking techniques such as
a. Take control of the situation
b. Set realistic goals
c. Focus on your strengths
d. Imagine success
e. Eat right
Yeah, words of wisdom from all over.
Messy, but Warm
11 months ago