Today was an extremely long and amazing day. I got up really early in order to make a day trip into Dakar to play softball and see a lot of the other volunteers who live in the Dakar region.
My first challenge was going to the Thies garage and not only getting myself a place in a sept-place, but also purchasing a seat for Jackie and explaining that we were going to pick her up along the side of the road. This is not a strange thing to do here so I was pretty confident. The garage was surprisingly uncrowded this morning and I went straight to the Dakar cars as swarms of men come up to me asking where I'm going to and trying to get me to take taxis or buses instead of a sept-place and trying to sell me things. One sidebar worth mentioning: A man came up to me and said that he would take me straight to Dakar and get my friend in his taxi. I told him I didn't want a taxi. He then told me because I'm very beautiful he would offer me the great deal of 15k for the ride. I laughed at him, asked him if he was joking in Wolof, and walked away. The men surrounding us burst out laughing and mocked the guy who had approached me. It was funny and a small victory.
I found a car going to Dakar and explained I wanted to two spots. The driver said ok so I got in. Then everyone else in the car kept saying how expensive two places was even though I explained I was picking up a friend. They were very concerned. I also had to fight off other people trying to get in the car and take the empty spot that was for Jackie. After 30 minutes of explaining that I was going to pay for two seats and we needed to pick up a friend we finally left the Thies garage. I gave myself a little pat on the back and thought my work was done... haha.
We roll into Jackie's town and she's not there. I keep saying that she's right behind us and everyone in the car is getting angry. They force me to get out of the car and call for her. This is alongside the national highway of Senegal. They then ask me if I can't pick her out of the crowd because she's Senegalese. I meekly reply that she's a toubab and I thought I was going to have a mutiny on my hands! The rest of the car was not happy. I call Jackie who is literally running from her house to the car after her mom interrogated her for 20 minutes and tried to hitch a ride with us. Finally, I see Jackie bounding through the gas station at top speed toward the sept-place. I breath a sigh of relief since the car wanted to leave without her and a women in the car who had an infant gave Jackie a death stare. Jackie was literally maybe three minutes late, but I was really worried they were going to push me out and her out of the car! It all worked out and is just part of the adventure. I'm sure I will be stopping countless more times to pick Jackie up for a little fun in Dakar. (Jackie, I know you're reading this... no worries! It was fun!).
It took 2.5 hours from me walking into the Thies garage until we arrived at the garage in Dakar, which is a jumble of cars, taxis, buses, people, and other miscellaneous things. We had gotten ourselves to the garage, but had really no idea where we were going from there. I hailed a cab, negotiated a fair, and we were off in the general direction of the Atlantic Club to have lunch and take a swim before the softball game. The driver only had a vague idea, much like we did, of where the club was so I just kept telling him to drive straight until Jackie recognized some dilapidated apartment buildings.
Katherine, who is a champion and took a bus, was already at the club and Elizabeth who is a trooper and left the med hut to come see us, she has a suspect case of Dengue fever, rounded out our foursome. First order of business catching up, second: FOOD. I had a fatoush salad and a chicken wrap and I can't tell you how incredibly amazing and fresh it tasted after the especially oily week of food I had at home.
Next off to the softball field to meet up with everyone else and kick some butt. Victory Dakar region PC. I was impressed with how good both some of the other volunteers and especially the Senegalese team we played were. It was really fun. I have to give a special shout out to Katherine and Jackie who are both good! I will admit to saying "this is a left handed mitt." Yes, now I realize that you catch with your left hand and it makes sense and I knew that. I've never pretended to like baseball, but I did feel stupid. After the game everyone went back to the Atlantic Club for some swimming, volleyball, and ice cream. It was really fun hanging out with the older volunteers and making the trip to Dakar by myself for the first time. Quite exhilarating.
Jackie, Katherine, and I left in the mid-afternoon in order to make it back to our sites before dark. We were able to take a cab together, but once we got to the garage Katherine had to take a different car and the garage is a really chaotic place to say goodbye. Oh well. We all made it back.
I walked into my compound just as it was getting dark, sweating, covered in dirt, and just revolting to find 100 women in all of their finery having a baptism for Jeenaba's sister's baby. Awesome. A Senegalese baptism is quite an event. The women get all dressed up and the congregate to give gifts and have a party. When I say give gifts I mean they hold up fabric, money, soap, or any other number of things and read out the quantity and the quality and write it down. It's a very public display of money which is a little different from what would happen at home, but it's very interesting to see the politicking behind who gave what and I always love seeing everyone dressed up.
I ducked into my room to try and clean myself up before sitting down to watch. Luckily it got dark so I hope no one really noticed how terrible I looked, but oh well. I would have enjoyed it more if I hadn't been so tired from today, but it was still cool. The party at my house ended about an hour and a half after I got home and moved to someone else's house. I ducked out at this point to decompress from my day and take a shower!
Ps. There are some new pictures up!
Messy, but Warm
11 months ago