Thursday, December 10, 2009

Thank God for Mamy

This morning I went to my tutor and actually had a really good time. I took his little kids some tootsie roll pops, which they loved and I had a really good conversation about Jumba. His wife also sat down to talk and I love her. The best part was that their youngest son who is about 3 was wearing a U of M sweat suit! I'm not kidding. It was amazing and I'm kicking myself for not having my camera with me!

I've also started walking again instead of riding my bike, which was a bad idea today because I was literally walking from end to end of Thies while getting harassed. Awesome. Luckily I had my iPod and I put my best game face on to trudge across the sandy, beige-ness of Thies to get to Dioss' mom's house. I have to say I was very proud of myself that I found it since I've only been there once. Slowly I'm starting to be able to distinguish boutiques, houses, and "streets" from one another. Dioss' family is amazing so I received a wonderfully warm welcome when I arrived along with some tea and some beautiful art.

I went to discuss prices and accounting for the artisan expo this kind of sort of happened. From what I can discern artists in Senegal really only sell to foreigners and when they see one they are so excited that they can't help but push merchandise on customers. So, although Dioss had explained to his mom why I was coming, the family has a long relationship with Peace Corps, and I explained myself when I arrived whenever I asked a price they would tell me what they would sell it to ME for and then a ridiculously large price range that they would sell the piece to other people at. This expo might be a disaster. They are intuitively good business people from what I can tell so I hope that they have some idea of their costs and aren't selling at a loss. I definitely want to work with Dioss' whole family because everyone's really nice, really talented, and really motivated. I think we could do some really cool things together.

This afternoon is when my day started to go south. I left my house after lunch suspecting, for some reason, that my typing class wasn't going to go well. I was walking along the road when a man probably around 60 came up to me and asked me for money. He wasn't a beggar and was well dressed and I politely told him I didn't have any money. As I walked away I shook my head a little bit in exasperation and heard the man laughing at me so I turned around to see him laughing and pointing at me. I've gotten a lot better at letting interactions like this roll off my back, but I really let this one get to me for some reason. Probably because it's just so opposite to our culture back at home. I can't imagine having a well dressed adult ask me for money... and then laugh at me when I said no.

At this point I'm seriously annoyed and listening to angry women's rock on my iPod. When I get to my computer class the school is completely locked up. No one is there and I can't get in. Great. I now have over an hour to kill until I can meet up with Dioss for my next meeting. I attempt to sit on a bench on the side of the road, but a plethora of men approach to annoy me so I'm forced to move and I just walked Thies until I met Dioss. Dioss seems to be my saving grace since he always keeps his appointments and seems to be very motivated.

Today he invited me to his artist group meeting. He is the president and he and the rest of the group are really interested in establishing a website and thinking up other marketing opportunities. The meeting went well.

At home we lost power for two hours. Thank god for headlamps.

Today's savior was Mamy. Mamy is a riot and she's quickly becoming my favorite family member... it doesn't hurt that she's the best cook. I should say the best or the worst cook. I'm always anxious when Mamy cooks because it's either one of my least favorite meals such as fish balls in fish gravy with gross white rice or it's the best ceebu jenn in Senegal. Today was a good day for Mamy. Her lunch of ceebu jenn was delicious (for ceebu jenn). It wasn't oily or gloopy and there was a lot of the burnt rice from the bottom of the pan which is my favorite. For dinner she made chicken! Yay! Chicken is always amazing, but Mamy made special chicken today which almost had a type of breading on it and was Cajun flavored. It was awesome and I made sure to tell Mamy several times how good it was and how I wanted to learn how to make it. Hopefully, I will get it again.

I'm now going to bed to prepare for my weekend in Dakar and to get rid of my bad mood. At least I have delicious chicken in my tummy...


  1. Alyssa,

    Were they ever able to provide any insight on their costs of the art? It would be interesting to determine the difference between what they would sell the art to you, their costs, and what they then mark up to other foreigners? It would also me interesting to see what they include in their calculation of costs, direct, variable and time. Have fun in Dakar.


  2. Happy Hanukkah! Jackie and I were talking about how badly we miss you making the greasiest and yummiest latkes of all time.

    Miss You!

  3. Happy Hanukkah Alyssa