Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The "Cool" Season

I walked into my compound today lugging my bike over the doorstep and just a little sweaty (this is a vast improvement over the usual sweatiness I experience) from my bike ride across town to find my mom and little boy Ahmed dressed in coats ready to go visit some friends. I did notice today that the temperature was extremely comfortable and there was a nice breeze. Luckily, one of the myriad of things my mom has sent me is a little thermometer I've attached to my bag. Silently laughing to myself that my Senegalese family is already wearing coats on the first "cold" day of the season I grab the thermometer to check what the temperature actually was: 82 degrees.

Finding my mom and little brother all bundled up in coats that I would wear in October in Michigan was after my computer class, which wasn't nearly as uplifting as usual. The school had an internet technician working on things while I was there so the connection was terrible and I kept getting pulled away because the Senegalese technician for some reason had a computer with a QWERTY keyboard instead of an AZERTY and he couldn't figure out where are the symbols were. Regardless, my students are still making progress and loving getting to the next level of the typing game.

This morning I rode my bike to Keur Yaay for their English class. I invited Emily to come along too and was disappointed when we both got there and someone was teaching a computer class... on a chalkboard while there were computers in the next room. He was explaining a keyboard on a blackboard. It made no sense and the girls obviously didn't get it either. After 45 minutes of mind numbing computer terms while not looking a computer I discovered that the tech class was only happening because the English teacher didn't show. All of the women had showed up and on time and were stood up by their teacher. These women are really motivated to learn and it's disappointing to see them let down.

Luckily Emily and I speak English pretty well except that we both had to keep asking each other if our English spelling was correct. It was bad. We did a lesson on meals and food terms. It was actually really fun. I was a little intimidated getting up to the blackboard, but it was great for me too since I was writing everything in English, French, and Wolof. The girls really had a good time with it and their pronunciation was a lot better.

Disclaimer: I'm about to make a generalization...

Senegalese people are notorious pen stealers. I say this in the nicest way possible. My PC language instructor stole pens, Diof always tries to steal my pens, and a girl in the English class who had borrowed my pen attempted to steal it! They do steal pens for a valid reason: PENS DO NOT WORK IN SENEGAL. It's the strangest thing. I had to have RSVP pens sent from the states because they are legitimately the only pens that work. As I was leaving the classroom I spotted the girl with my bright pink pen and asked for it back. She started laughing and explained she thought I forgot about it! I called her a pen stealer and the entire room burst out laughing. This was all taking place in Wolof so as I haltingly explained that the Senegalese steal pens the girls only started laughing harder. All the other girls then started ganging up on the pen stealer and it was just hilarious. Sorry that it's not as funny here...

To make up for that not being funny: Me on my bike...

1. Fun Fact: Mopeds are popular here and two men often ride on them together. Peddling at a normal pace on my bike pushes me forward at a faster rate than two Senegalese men on a moped.
2. Some punk kid with only one gear on his bike peddles furiously to keep pace with me and attempt to pass me until his chain falls off and I leave him in the dust.
3. Seeing another person wearing a helmet in the distance and knowing it's Emily. Hey, only random PCV toubabs wear helmets. Surprisingly, you still feel dorky wearing a helmet in Senegal.


  1. Alyssa,

    After reading this, I am worried that Mom will be sending you a parka in one of her many packages.


  2. should I send gloves or ear muffs?!!

  3. I can knit mittens and hat??

  4. arctic parka!

    (people here where coats when its 70 - also pretty ridiculous!)

    - Lindsay

  5. i spelled wear wrong...in my defense im in class and kind of paying attn to that....haha


  6. In case you hadn't noticed I'm backtracking posts I've skipped.
    So today is arbor day and since I live in the green quad with a bunch of hippies we planted trees behind our building. First of all whoever decided to put the tree holiday in december was an idiot... the freaking ground is frozen! (well not here but it was still hard). Second it was in the high sixties and sunny and we were working so I was in a tank and jeans and sweating a little, My roomies walk out (one of them is from charleston and the other is Nica) heavy coats, scarves and mittens and procede to admonish my lack of a coat and tell me to go in right now before I catch cold. I love them but they are definetly fair weather girls.

    (see that story did pertain to the blog entry...)