October 10, 2009
Today my class went to visit a setkat, which in English is commonly known as a psychic. Personally, I’ve been looking forward to this for days. While I’ve never paid the $3/ min to call the psychic hotline back in the US, I would gladly pay 200CFA, about 50 cents, to have my fortune told by a huge woman, throwing cowry shells at a basket, in her inferno of a room. Obviously, I wanted at least some of the fortunes to be all hell, fire, and brimstone so that I could have a good laugh, but we turned out to be a pretty lucky bunch. Here’s a recap:
Me: I will have a very happy life and service here in Senegal. Two older women at home are always thinking about me (this could potentially be my mother and grandmother who attempted to put the entire contents of Meijers in a flat rate shipping box) at home. I will have the attention from one man at home and one man in Senegal, but the man at home will win out (no contest). Yeah, that was pretty much it. She just told me how great and lucky and healthy I was for a couple of minutes. Boring.
Byron: His life is also great, but if he gives some poor people milk and sugar he will have three daughters.
Brian: Same as Byron except that he’s going to have money problems with his real family back home. A rich relative wont help him out and hides his wealth and once Brian is wealthy his family will try and take money from him (this is what happens to every Senegalese person no matter what the economic background).
Ryan: Good life blah, blah, blah
Tamar: Tamar is also going to have a good life, but the psychic told her she’s going to have boy troubles and although she’s really smart she’s kind of an airhead.
Tamar’s was pretty funny, but I really wanted some terrible things to be revealed in our fortunes for my own personal amusement, but alas.
I had another good conversation about Senegal and the US with my siblings. I was trying to ask them what I should do to help people during my service. Their answers always came back to money. Just give people money so they can buy things and not be so poor. I asked about the educational system and they think it’s fine. They understand that there’s corruption, but they think money is the answer. I questioned them about teach accounting (yeah, I know) skills to women’s groups, which they thought was fine, but not that valuable because they didn’t see the direct link to making more money. I can tell it’s going to be an uphill battle whatever I do, not to just write grants and search for financial backers. Everywhere I go I get asked for money, it’s constantly on everyone’s minds (as it is in the US, but it’s different when you’re living hand to mouth). My siblings just see me as so incredibly wealthy, the same with all Americans, and think that we should just be able to either make everyone’s life here better by giving them money or by exporting Senegalese products to the US for sale. So, I didn’t really get any great suggestions for future work, but I’m hoping my family in Thies and my work counterparts will be helpful and have good ideas.
After eating a greasy yet delicious dinner of fried eggs, fried potatoes, and fried onions, which I scooped out of grease at the bottom of the bowl with my hand, my sister and I went on an epic journey to find one of her friends who’s a tailor to see if she could get a job. At least this was her cover, I think she really just wanted to be social and dragged me along. It was actually really fun. While I infinitely prefer older women over older men (creepy old men asking you to be a 2nd or 3rd wife isn’t fun), my interactions with my siblings male friends has been a lot nicer and more fun than with their female friends. Just the other day my sisters had a friend over who berated me about not speaking Wolof because I didn’t know the word for a piece of clothing she was wearing, even though I had been talking to her for a while. Tonight, I talked to some boys my own age, and even though they told me they could be my Senegalese boyfriend/ husband and we wouldn’t have to tell my boyfriend at home, they were really patient with my Wolof and really impressed when they found out I’ve only been studying for two months.I hate to make this generalization about the girls, but it’s probably because they work their asses off and are tired and maybe jealous that I get to sit around like a boy, under a tree, fanning myself.
Regardless, it was still a good day if not filled with greasy food, unbelievable amounts of sweat, and unbearable heat. Tomorrow Tamar and I are using public transportation for the first time alone! Wish us luck! We are going to Thies for a friend’s birthday. It should definitely be an adventure!
Also, I just put some pictures of everyday objects up for your amusement and hopefully to induce some shock about what Africa really is like.
PS: Tamar's family watched a soft-core porn movie featuring Anna Nicole Smith last night. Ridiculous.
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