Saturday, November 28, 2009

Tabaski/ Happy Birthday Dad

There's nothing like waking up after a good night's sleep to a sheep slaughter. Today is the day that my family has been talking about since I arrived here almost 6 weeks ago. After breakfast, Tamar and I were just leaving my bungalow when we saw a singular sheep tied outside the pen. He was panicking and bleating to the other sheep inside the pen. It was pretty obvious he knew what was about to happen...

I have been a little nervous about watching the sheep slaughter, but it wasn't as gory or gross as I thought it would be. I thought there would be a lot more pomp and circumstance surrounding the sheep, but all the men went about their business matter of factly and laughed as Tamar and I oohed and ahhed and took pictures from a distance. They dug a small hole in the sand and then my three brothers held the sheep on the ground with its head in the hole as my dad cut its throat. The blood didn't spurt out violently like in a horror movie as I imagined it, but there were death rattles and spasms which were a little hard to watch.

After letting the blood drain into the hole for a few minutes my brothers carried the goat into the tiled section of our compound, put it on a plastic tarp, and expertly butchered it. Tamar and I were really impressed at how quickly and knowledgeably my brothers were able to butcher the sheep. I've posted a bunch of pictures so take a look, some of them may be slightly graphic if you're squeamish.

As my brothers butchered the sheep, Tamar and I helped Khady cut onions. We are both terrible at cutting onions in our hands especially since we were using my sharp knives. Most of my family's knives are so dull you can barely chop anything. After nicking myself I told Khady I would peel the potatoes since I have a peeler and can do it much quicker than they can. Tamar kept cutting onions since she's much better at it then me. Unfortunately, as I threw a potato into the "finished" bucket my finger ran into Tamar's knife. I blame this completely on her by the way... My entire family freaked out, but it's just a little cut and I put a band-aid on it. Now my family thinks I'm fairly inept at almost every task known to man, except reading and they just think that's weird.

During a lull in the action, as a vat on onions mixed with a gallon of oil simmered away, Tamar and I made no-bake cookies to share with my family. They were very skeptical about how they would taste. Jeenaba, again, refused to try American food but my mom and my dad took two and other people seemed to like them so that was a success. At least we made a contribution and I think they appreciated that.

Lunch was the big meal of the day and while really good and out of the norm, it wasn't the feast I was expecting or the type of feast we had in my home stay town for Korite (another big Muslim holiday). I guess this is because we are going to be eating the sheep all week, but as usual I don't really know what's going on! There was a really good and spicy mustard sauce which I'm going to attempt to request for future meals...

By far the highlight of the day was getting our make-up done. My sister Mamy is a hair and make-up genius and she made Tamar and I up for the holiday. It was awesome. Mamy spends hours everyday doing her make-up, her hair, and everyone else's beauty routines as well. She's great. And she went all out for us. My eye shadow matching my outfit perfectly was excellent, but the pounds of eye liner and blush all over my face just really took it to the next level. I loved it. And she's awesome at doing head wraps! Apparently there are a ton of different styles and she gave Tamar and I different wraps. I would describe Tamar's as Senegalese badass/ Oragami, while mine was more Senegalese boho. Both were amazing. Check out the pictures. We also watched Khady get an extremely intricate hair weave, which was time consuming, but surprisingly tasteful.

After getting all dolled up, we went out with my brother Petit to see his friends. The first two houses we went to were nice and we chit chatted and exchanged pleasantries, but the third was a long stay and I kind of feel like a hostage when I go out, can't get back by myself, and then they just tell me I'm tired or hungry and that they'll take me home. Actually, I'm bored and a little annoyed usually, but it wasn't too bad and being with Tamar made it a lot better. It definitely didn't ruin the day and I'm happy that we went out so we could see everyone else's clothes, make-up, and sheep carcasses.

Tabaski was definitely interesting and fun. I really enjoyed hanging out with my family and Tamar and I hope that we helped at least a little bit with the food preparation. I'm pretty sure we were entertaining to watch as we watched the sheep being butchered. Tabaski continues tomorrow and Jeenaba has promised me that she is wearing the most amazing outfit ever... so that's definitely something to look forward to!

Check out all the pictures! And happy birthday dad! I hope that you had a delicious meal at the club. I had roasted lamb with fries, onion sauce, and LETTUCE, which was delectable, but I could totally go for a ceasar salad, burger, and pecan dream from the club!


  1. hey, sorry I've been such a dead beat again. I guess i'm just going to have to resign myself to reading this in waves when I get time. But I'm all caught up again! so I'll try to start commenting more again... I feel silly commenting on old news. Any way I'm glad things are going better and that you had a good thanksgiving

  2. Alyssa,

    You are looking mighty fine. It looks like you may want to become a butcher based on the number of pictures. I also liked Ahmed's dress shoes inn one of the pictures, gold or yellow pointed shoes. To bad you will be travelling the next week and will not be able to enjoy the lamb fest.