Saturday, November 21, 2009

The First Hundred Days

I've been in Senegal for one hundred days. Wow. It doesn't feel like I've been gone that long, but at the same time I feel like I've been away an eternity. And if anyone posts how many days I have left I'll kill you. Looking back I can't believe I'm still here. It is a testament to how truly stubborn and masochistic I am that I didn't get on the plane the countless number of times I wanted to quit during PST. Now that the once omnipresent self doubt has dissipated, I'm really happy I stayed. Since getting to site, I've really hit my stride and I've been able to create some semblance of a life for myself here. I'm sure that there will be many more times when I think I'm a complete crazy person for coming and times when I want to go home and times when I will need to lock myself in my room and gorge on all the goodies people have sent me while watching a complete season of The Office, but I think I can handle the roller-coaster as long as I don't find myself in the two month long purgatory of PST.

That said, day 100 did not disappoint.

The main topic of conversation last night was actually bodily functions, not the greater subject of personal happiness. All PCVs have devolved into kindergarteners and lost all sense of personal boundaries when it comes to anything health related. Discussing bowel movements and all myriads of gross sickness and rashes is common table discussion and much like talking about the weather back at home. Well, sometimes in Africa you just have to go and that happened to me this morning so I ran out of bed and began filling a tea-pot of water so I could go to the bathroom. While I'm doing this, little Ahmed runs out pantsless, but with a shirt and gives me a mischievous grin. I can tell he has to pee too and he's thinking about cutting me in line. He runs toward the bathroom and then stops near the animal pens where the ground is dirt instead of tile, puts in hands on his hips, arcs his back, and laughs uproariously as he pees into the dirt. Three year old boys are all the same.

After that fiasco, I'm sitting in my room and get a text message from another PCV who's at the Post Office and sees that there's a package with my name on it. Yes! I grabbed my bag and took everything out of it in the hope that I could open the package at the post office and then stuff everything in the bag. Much to my delight I had 3 packages (and only one was from my mom!). So I get the slip and the guys, who all know me by now, wave me inside to wait for the customs guy. I waited and waited and waited and waited. I waited for almost 2 hours and the other employees tried to make me leave so they could close since they didn't think the customs guy was coming back and I absolutely refused to wait until Monday for my three packages. Obviously, the other employees couldn't do customs because that isn't their job even though they weren't doing anything other than talking to me! Ah!!!

While we were waiting, I actually had a fascinating conversation with the two men who were in the office. Obviously is centered around everyone's favorite topic: marriage. So, early on in my relationship with the post office men I made the error of telling them I'm not married. The conversation started off with them telling me I wasn't going to get any work done here because as a single, young woman I'm worthless and no one will listen to me. Great. Always good to hear. They then tell me that it's fairly dishonorable that I'm unmarried and living in a foreign country not in the house of a close relative. Excellent, now I'm a slut. This conversation continues until the illustrious customs' official finally arrives and then veers into the "will you by my second wife" conversation.

The oldest man, who is around 50-55, told me that having multiple wives makes for a moral society and he thinks the US is corrupt because men can only have one wife. His reasoning is that women will become huge tramps if they can't find a husband and if men can have multiple wives then all women can have a husband who will safeguard their morals and their purity. This is a lovely sentiment, but he goes on to say that because the Senegalese are allowed to have multiple wives they don't have prostitution problems like the US. Fortunately, at this point, the customs' official needs my attention because I wanted to tell this man that Senegal has a flourishing sex tourism business all along the coast, but instead I signed for my packages.

Since the customs' official was the person who brought up me being a second wife (although I would make a much better first wives because first wives don't cook and I can't make ceebu jenn, but I'm very beautiful), he asked if I had any interest in becoming his second wife at which I balked. Then he proceeded to give me a completely irrational price for my packages, which I laughed at. I then told him that I might reconsider becoming his second wife if we could negotiate a better price. He diminished the price to zero and I walked away with three packages! Victory! Next time at the Post Office I'll just remind him of our deal that I want an air conditioned room with internet before I agree to marry him...

Package Shout Outs!
1. Mom, always a pleasure doing packages with you. I have stowed my Channukah presents under my bed. Half of dad's present may not have been so lucky and may already be in stomach. Junior Mints...delight.
2. Ma! Thank you so much for the package. I plan on making some Indian food tomorrow night in order to avoid the traditional Sunday dinner of millet+milk+sugar! All the food looks AMAZING and I stored the Christmas presents under my bed to be saved until Xmas.
3. McKeowns, last but definitely not least! Thank you so much for all the reading material. I can't tell you how popular I am because of your New Yorkers. I think a New Yorker has made it to every corner of Senegal and many PCVs have been spared hours of boredom because of your thoughtfulness. I also may have seen the pistachios, ripped the bag open, and inhaled a third of the bag before I looked at the contents of the rest of the package. I took out the pro kadima paddles much to amazement, joy and wonder of little Ahmed. He doesn't have any toys and amuses himself by constantly running around or watching tv so the addition of a ball and a paddle to the bubbles I showed him truly blew his mind. We may not be able to hit the ball back and forth, and Ahmed may not being able to bounce the ball up and down on his own paddle, but throwing the ball and waving around the paddle brought him hours of enjoyment today. Thank you.

The food, which added to my already wondrous stash, was much appreciate because I have suffered through 4 not good lunches in a row. All I'm asking for is the return of ceebu jeen. I never thought I would say it, but I like and miss ceebu jenn. So, I've been subsidizing my diet a lot with yummy treats! Luckily we had chicken tonight for dinner! The most satisfying dinner I've had in days made better by the fact that I had my own piece of chicken so my brother and I didn't have to inhale the piece we shared while pretending to let the other person have more.

To cap it all off Khady went to a wedding tonight in a satin dress with a red and gold zebra print. I love her.

What a day.

1 comment:

  1. It's not the first night of Hanukkah without a box of Junior Mints from Dad!
    What a wild 100 days!