Jeenaba and I had agreed to go to the market this morning earlier in the week and we had a great trip. I wanted to buy some fabric to have an outfit made for an upcoming holiday called Tabaski, which got everyone really excited because my family loves it when I wear Senegalese clothes. I assumed that we would go to the main market in Thies because that's the only one I knew about, but there is a smaller market much closer to our house, which still has all the food products of the bigger markets and several fabric stalls and tailors.
All of my sisters are fashionistas and Jeenaba took control of my outfit, which is fine since I don't know what the Senegalese think is nice and not. We settled on some violet eyelet fabric and embroidery, this is after I convinced Jeenaba that a large rhinestone encrusted ribbon down the front of the outfit wasn't necessary. She agreed that I already stick out enough as a toubab. The tailor also got a kick out of the fact that I wanted a skirt with a zipper instead of a wrap skirt because I think they're too hard to walk in. Overall, it was a smooth process and Jeenaba seemed really into it and I'm excited to see the finished product. I'm also excited to have some more Senegalese clothes because they really are the most comfortable things to wear here.
We did a bunch of grocery shopping and it was really interesting to see Jeenaba move around the market. She knew everyone there and would stop and say hi to all the vendors even if she wasn't buying. I met her brother who has a small booth and we talked for a while. The best part about this outing was going to see Jeenaba's mother after the shopping because I was able to put together more of the family tree. Jeenaba's mom is my mom's sister, which makes her a cousin. From seeing their house it's obvious that my family is better off and that's why I assume Jeenaba works at my house. It also makes sense why Jeenaba who calls the other girl who does a lot of the cleaning (her name is Deenaba, oops I thought there were two Jeenabas) a maid. She's not family. I also got to meet my grandma who is hilarious, really friendly, and had a lot of patience talking with me. We went back to Jeenaba's house this evening for a wedding, but we missed most of it and just sat around talking. I'm able to pick up more and more of conversations which is nice even if it's difficult for me to participate. On the way home I thanked Jeenaba for her help and she said no problem I'm her friend. It was really sweet and meant a lot. We are becoming friends and that's great.
This afternoon I watched a lot of television with my family. While we did start out with some CSI Miami dubbed in French, we eventually turned out to a Senegalese channel which was really interesting because it was showing a traditional wrestling match. A match lasts approximately a minute (the winner only has to push his opponent out of the ring), but there is an hour of awesome dancing and other festivities before hand. The dancing and music is really cool and was similar to the performances at the party for our host families.
All in all a good and relaxing day.
I would like to address some comments made on the blog. I did not use precise language in explaining my irritation with people being late. I do regret saying all Senegalese people are late since it does annoy me when they assume all Americans are rich, but I have yet to attend a meeting that started relatively on time. Also, my frustrations lie mainly with my work partner who I've had many discussions with about how I don't like waiting outside a bank for over an hour while he does his personal business. He could have very easily called me and told me to come an hour later. I have also admitted that I'm struggling with all the cultural differences and I hope that that translated into my willingness to try and understand and adapt as much as I can. I am keeping an open mind. Additionally, the Peace Corps is a cross cultural exchange. While I understand, respect, and admire many aspects of Senegalese cultural such as breaking for prayer time, forming personal relationships over afternoons at tea before starting a business relationship, and stopping to great everyone you know on the way to a meeting, I am here to improve business and teach business practices in a culturally sensitive way.
Messy, but Warm
6 months ago