Wednesday, December 9, 2009


Sheer willpower was what got me out of bed this morning. I could have easily laid in bed all day feeling awash in the unknown of what I'm doing here. Luckily, I did get up and I had a pretty good day.

My first order of business was to go see Dioss and talk about the artisan expo this weekend in Dakar. I always love going to the gallery and I decided to walk instead of ride my bike to give myself a little extra time to wake up and mentally prepare for my day. Dioss was waiting in the gallery staring at some new paintings which were spectacular, abstract scenes of Senegalese women. He used a ton of point and heavy strokes and the effect was awesome. I will hopefully be able to put pictures up soon.

Since I find Dioss so interesting, smart, and generally with it, I vastly over estimated his accounting skills. I had brought several direct/ indirect costs worksheets to go over before the expo. I was expecting him to immediately get everything and show me how it was done. Unfortunately, we have a lot of work to do. I think the prices he has fixed for the expo are fine and that he isn't selling at a loss, but he's not making much from the very rudimentary calculations I could do with his lack of information. Dioss' family has a long relationship with Peace Corps and he's really motivated to take his business to the next level so he really listens to what I have to say which is so nice and refreshing. After the expo, we are going to start working on a formal ledger and hopefully set new prices for his artwork. Dioss isn't actually going to the expo, his mom and younger sister are, who weren't available to talk today since they were at a different expo, but I'm hoping to track them down first thing in the morning to make sure there are actual fixed prices like Dioss promised me there were...

After Dioss' I somehow found the willpower to force myself to go see my tutor. I took a new route from Dioss' because I thought it would be shorter. Was it shorter? Questionable. Did I get lost? No. Victory. My tutor was happy to see me and I told him all about my recent travels and we talked about food. For some reason out conversations always circle back to food... or marriage. Hey, this is Senegal. And I asked him where I can find village bread in Thies. It's called tappalapa and supposedly can be readily bought here. Jumba, my tutor, explained a ridiculous set of directions to me so I could find a random boutique that has tappalapa. After 15 minutes of aimless wandering during the hottest part of the day I threw in the towel and came home.

This afternoon I went to a school Dioss wants me to work at for a computer class. It was my first experience working with Senegalese men apart from Diof and Dioss. We started out with a mousing game because two of my four students had never touched a computer. There is one woman in the class who instantly excelled. Probably because she actually listened to what I had to say. One man was just absolutely terrible at computers. Epically bad. I thought teaching my mom and grandma was agonizing. This was worse. While everyone else had already completed the mousing game he was still on the first level. I just kind of let him be in his corner desperately trying to kill aliens while I attended to the others.

A second man was nice and fine. He picked up mousing quickly and moved onto the sweet typing game I found. The third man was insufferable. He demanded that I set his typing exercise up first although I was already working with the woman who had completed the mousing game first. He then couldn't achieve the 90% accuracy needed to move onto the next level of the typing game (the woman had already completed three levels) so he told me the game was stupid and stormed out of the room. Next week I'm bringing the USAID intern with me so I'm hoping to relinquish my duties at this school since she really needs computer hours to fulfill her job requirements!

Back at home:
1. I played prokadima with Ahmed for 1.5 hours. His highest score of bouncing the ball on the paddle was 2. I'm impressed with my own patience.
2. I gave Ahmed a piece of chocolate. He put the entire thing in his mouth, realized he couldn't close his mouth/ chew, spit it out into his had, then put it on the ground, broke it apart, and put it back in his mouth.
3. We had salad at dinner (read: lettuce)! OMG! I have prided myself on my eating strategies here in Senegal. That is eating quickly or slowly depending on the situation and eating the sought after tidbits first. Tonight was a failure. Due to my utter shock at seeing something green and leafy in a side bowl, I dove in and ate the delectable lettuce slyly thinking I was taking the best part of the meal. Joke was on me. By the time I had finished eating lettuce, which no one else even pretended to be interested in, all the meat and potatoes were long gone and I have since been hiding my room trying to fill my mostly empty stomach. Oh well I still got lettuce!


  1. Alyssa,

    There is still time for the typist to improve and at least beat one of your earlier students, i.e. family.


  2. I'm truly trying to not imagine your frustration if this guy really is that bad. Ma's actually gotten surprisingly adept. She's reading you blog even if she's having trouble commenting. And there actually was a real technical problem with her WiFi when I was up in November (aka not operator error).
    Also I commend you lettuce victory. I am currently eating romaine hearts, carrots and tomatoes in your honor (and possibly a little to celebrate my own finals victorys and make up for my study eating for the last couple weeks... it wasn't pretty).

    Have fun teaching people how to use mice!