Thursday, October 8, 2009

My Family Drank Water Today

October 6, 2009

My family routinely questions why I drink so much water and always have my water bottle around. This is Africa, it’s hot. Anyway, today they were drinking water constantly and my poor sister was repeatedly sent out into the sweltering heat to buy ice because it was so damn hot. It’s impossible to describe how hot it was. I was having a personal struggle about whether to fan myself or not. I couldn’t figure out if fanning myself was making it cooler or if I was sweating more from the physical activity. Sitting under our tree, in the shade sweat was literally streaming off my body as the hot wind only exacerbated my discomfort and annoyance. Even buckets baths offer little relief since the water that comes out of the robinet is warm. Yeah, it was a bad one. I was also in a fairly bad mood because instead of being dropped off at our individual houses we were dropped off at our teacher’s house and then forced to walk with all of our stuff back home. My mom commiserated with me and said that was mean… I agree!

No class in the morning meant a lot of reading since my brothers sleep until the early afternoon, my dad was gone, my mom is sick/ sleeping under the tree, and my sisters are toiling away cleaning or the like. I finished “Cry, the Beloved Country,” and started “Half the Sky,” by Nicholas Kristof and his wife about gender disparity, which was an interesting choice on my part since we talked about women in Senegal during my afternoon language class.

Women have a hard, hard life here. They do all the housework and housework in Senegal is not easy. Even attempting to explain the difference between American housework and Senegalese housework to our teacher was nearly impossible. It was inconceivable to her that nearly everyone in the US has an oven, a stove, a laundry machine, and a dish washer. At home my least favorite activity in the entire world is unloading the dishwasher. This takes approximately 3 minutes after I’ve done the prerequisite 20 minutes of complaining before starting. Dishes here take hours. Plus, unlike in the US you can’t through them into a machine and come back 45 minutes later to clean dishes. You have to wash them while you bake in the sun. The same with laundry; it takes 30 seconds at home to throw everything in the washer and walk away to do other things while you’re laundry is getting clean. The time modern conveniences save the average American is astronomical and unimaginable here. I wonder if my Senegalese sisters would use that time wisely or if they would sleep in and do nothing like my brothers.

This brings me back to my continuing and growing obsession with my Senegalese mom. I had homework tonight about the market, which I asked her for help with because I think I’ve already tried everyone else’s patience today. She patiently explained everything to me and attempted to use circumlocution when I didn’t know 50% of the words she wanted to use, but I was transcribing what she said onto my homework sheet, something she can’t do. What in the world does she think of me? I sit around all day asking questions, reading, studying, and text messaging Tamar. The only one of those she can really do is ask questions and she doesn’t seem to have a whole lot of curiosity. Is curiosity born of some type of intelligence? Regardless our relationship is getting better as my Wolof improves although she’s still a terrifying woman for how tiny she is.

My day was pretty boring so I had to get all “deep thinking” on you. Sorry. Tamar and I did go to her uncle the tailor to try and get outfits made for our swearing in ceremony. It was an epic fail. Although we had asked our teacher about the styles and what we should get, Tamar’s uncle was super bsuy with other clients who have a wedding on Saturday and he was confused with our requests. Long story short we have to go back tomorrow and try again.

Now, I’m going to attempt to cool down in a bucket bath and try not to completely sweat through my sheets. I’m guessing both will be failures. 7 more nights in the vil… I’m almost getting nostalgic.

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