Sunday, November 1, 2009

Nipples, Goats, and Guts

Today has been a punishing day mostly because of me. I let myself sleep in and lounge in bed reading In Style before I got up to take my run. BAD CHOICE. Running an hour later than I usually do means it's an hour hotter and it was toasty this morning. This was made even more annoying when I got to the track and there were several soccer games going on. I was too embarrassed to run around in front of a bunch of Senegalese boys so I just turned around and ran back home grabbing a banana on my way so I could have my new speciality: banana, almond, oatmeal for breakfast.

After breakfast I cleaned my room. I moved everything out and swept and washed the floors. Even Jeenaba said she was impressed. Go me. I'm not completely worthless.

Flush with the room cleaning victory, I turned to the task of fixing my bike. I can sit looking at an LSAT logic game for an hour trying to figure out the nuance and trying to understand the problem without losing my cool. Three minutes into attempting to get the back wheel off my bike I was practically in tears. It was a two hour project to take the tire off and play with, but not fix the chain. At this point I'm really hating myself and thinking that this is exactly the reason why I'm dating an engineer. Side note: Jeenaba 1s boyfriend is a car mechanic so I may have told her my boyfriend is a plane mechanic in order to bond. Aerospace engineer is slightly outside the scope of my Wolof. Anyway, with the tire off I discover that the inner tube has a leak and that the valve is broken off.

I couldn't come up with the word valve, even in English, for some reason so I told my family, who were all sitting outside, that the nipple of the tube had broken off. My family went into a hysteric fit of laughter at the nipple comment and one of my brothers told me that the word in French was valve. I'm an idiot. It's the same in English.

Moving on from that my brother Ahmed, who is the most reserved and the one I have spoken least to, offered to take me to the bike shop to get it fixed. The bike guys get me a new valve and patch the leak even though I told them I wanted to do that. My brother told me I couldn't... he was probably right. My brother also insisted he carry the tire around. All of my brothers act like I'm some delicate, toubab flower that can't really do anything. Unfortunately, most of the time this is true. Back at home I tell my brother I'm going to put the tire back on and fix the chain. He laughs, but leaves me alone to my work. He comes back 45 minutes later and neither task has been accomplished. DAMN! He proceeds to fix my bike and oil the chain in approximately 2.5 seconds.

I'm proud of myself for attempting, at least, to fix my bike and I'm happy that I was doing it in my own courtyard because if I was out in the African bush I would have surely died of dehydration.

While I was attempting to fix my bike all the women in my family were excitedly telling me about the stew we were going to have for dinner. Then I saw them starting to scrape the hairy, gooey, thing pieces off of intestines! Yay! This was my thought process:

1. I want to throw up at the smell
2. I'm going to cook dinner for myself tonight!
3. Suck it up and try it... and then gorge yourself on peanut butter in your room.

This was happening while one of my brothers and his friend are taking all the goats out of their pen and giving them a bath. The goats are going crazy and bleating all over the place and scaring the crap out of me. These are BIG goats! The best part was Matt asked me last night how many goats we had. Being the great animal lover that I am I told him I had no idea because I've never had any desire to look in the pen. We have 5 goats.

Intestine stew isn't nearly as bad as you would think. It was more of a soup that was really fatty with some potatoes, meat chunks, and intestines. Intestines just have a weird consistency, but the flavor is fine. This meal took 10 hours to make. We just ate and it's 10:30pm! Jeenaba 1 doesn't like this meal and said so and I took that as my cue to tell everyone how much I don't like soupukany, but this was good!

This is getting ridiculously long, but one more thing. Right before we started eating my sisters finished a hair weave and then they took a burning piece of cloth and burned all the flyaways off each other's heads. Therefore, I just ate intestine stew while smelling burnt hair.

Oh Africa...


  1. Hi Alyssa,
    I love sitting down on a Sunday night and catching up with your Blog. Then I can spend the rest of the week sharing your adventures with friends far and near. We just spent Halloween in Greenwich village and even though we saw many bizaar things it just doesn't compare with Sedegal. Keep up the awesome writing. Your east coast crowd is very proud of all you have accomplished already. Enjoy some intestines for us. Love, Roz

  2. Is it wrong for a mother to laugh uproariously at her daughter's faux paxs and misfortunes??!! I'm guilty as charged. Great post Bun!