Laundry is officially no longer my problem! Yes! I told everyone I was going to do laundry today and everyone immediately started telling me how terrible I am at it, to which I responded: Yes, I am terrible at laundry. I never learned how to hand wash things because my family has a washing machine. Regardless, I go buy soap, get my buckets ready, put my iPod in, and prepare myself for several hours of hell. My brother Petit comes over to tell me that none of my clothes are clean and that I can do laundry. He then asks me why I don't let one of the other Jeenaba's do it as she did the laundry of the volunteer who lived here before me. This is my window of opportunity. It boiled down to me giving Jeenaba my dirty clothes every day, which she will wash, and then me giving her the equivalent of 10 USD at the end of the month. Hallelujah. I had a big pile today and my sheets, which she did and now not only smell like soap, but are also clean. Bliss.
Unfortunately, I had to suffer for this amazing result. I resolved to sit with her while she did my laundry and attempt to speak in Wolof. While I really like Jeenaba (let's call her Jeenaba 1 since there are many Jeenabas), she isn't very patient with my Wolof and immediately wants to switch to Wolof although she is really good and deciphering my terrible accent and pronunciation. A random guy walked into our compound and sat down. He was incredibly annoying. He persistently asked my for money even though he was at least as old as my parents and kept making cracked out jokes that no one except him understood while making faces and pointing at me. My mom, Jeenaba1, and Petit were all sitting outside and no one found this man amusing. It amazes me what Senegalese people will put up with. I eventually got up and went into my room. I cannot understand how older people aren't embarrassed when they ask someone who could be their child for money. It is just so different in our culture.
I did turn the money tables on my sisters tonight. They are always complaining about not having any money and constantly ask me how much everything I have on me costs whether or not I recently bought it in Senegal or if it's from the States. As mentioned in earlier posts, hair weaves are HUGE here. Almost all women from their teens into their 30-40s wear hair weaves. I was curious how much this fake hair costs since they change their hairstyles about every two weeks! Each pack of fake hair (it takes several to cover ones head) costs 7000 CFA! OMG! My family had an absolute panic attack when I spent 500CFA so I could have some fresh tomatoes. Obviously, money isn't used in the wisest possible ways here.
Dinner was also interesting. My prowess at eating my fried fish with my fingers last night either went unnoticed or no one cared because I was supplied with a knife and fork tonight. I am struggling with dinner and not because it's not good because it usually is. My dad, youngest brother, Ahmed (who's in high school), and I eat together about an hour earlier than everyone else. We get disproportionally more food and better cuts of meet. Granted, I am a paying tenet and I give them a lot of money for food, but I also have started to supplement my diet a lot so I feel badly. The inequality that happens within a family is surprising to me.
The third thing I've been thinking about today since I didn't do a whole lot today is the loneliness that will surely, at some point, wrap itself around me. I was recently emailing back and forth with a friend at home about having to make a new community after college. A new friend set in your new city. It's weird because I kind of did go back to school. I put myself in a very intense, new situation, in a strange place and formed fairly instant bonds with the people who were in the same boat. The major difference is that Kaitlyn isn't down the hall and Alena and Jackie aren't a walk across campus (although it is intimidating in a Michigan winter... oh, to be cold) my friends are spread across a country where public transportation and infrastructure are shoddy and unreliable at best. It's comforting to know that my friends back home are experiencing some similar feelings although we're a world apart. Thank god for email and Skype and texting here in Senegal.
Well, this post wasn't really uplifting or amusing. I apologize.
Tomorrow's Preview: the first of hopefully many Ladies Who Lunch meetings and a Halloween party hosted by a Senegalese English club. Get ready for some hilarious pictures!
Messy, but Warm
10 months ago