Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Passover, Sheep, Taxis

Standing in the American style grocery store in Dakar Tamar broke the news that we would not be attending a Passover Seder due to a myriad of circumstances... this was before her mom, Anat who is currently visiting, busted out her native Hebrew skills and talked her way into the Seder. Needless to say I was very impressed and we had a lovely time.

The Seder was at the Israeli ambassador's house and there were approximately 70 other people there representing a plethora of different nationalities. While I did expect the American Jews, the French Jews, and obviously the Israelis, what I was not expecting was a sheep. Yes, a sheep. I've grown up going to Seders and I know the story of Passover, but I have to admit that the sheep utterly confounded me. It was tied to the Ambassador's pool gate. When I see sheep at my house, in the street, eating trash, next to a restaurant, dead, alive, skinned, dismembered or in any other way one can see a sheep I don't blink an eye, but at the Israeli Ambassador's house? After I pronounced my confusion multiple times Tamar turned to me and explained my stupidity and the Ambassador told us it was a gift (and that he had received several, but he would not be killing it and smearing it's blood on the door post).

During cocktail hour the Absolute Vodka and gin flowed and we talked with some other ex-pats until it was time to sit at a dinner table with a hilarious group of older French people. The Seder was conducted in French, English, and Hebrew so parts became boring and our entire table engaged in good conversation. The three French women at the table held my attention with their ensembles as they were dripping in jewels, which only a fabulous French woman could pull off. It was a good night and I'm really glad we went even though my Matzah ball soup is pretty much the best thing ever and there was no brisket.

This morning I left Dakar as soon as I got up and it really wasn't a minute too soon. For some reason Dakar has been getting under my skin. This rant is dedicated to Jackie, my most loyal reader...

Things I Expect Taxis To Do, But Know I Shouldn't Expect... And Then I Still Get Mad:
1. I expect a taxi driver to know the city in which he is driving. This doesn't seem like too much to ask, but most of the time it is. Twice during my trip to Dakar I had addressed and good directions to a specific location. The taxi driver didn't know the spot and grew irate at me as I could not tell him which way to go... even though I had given him directions and he told me he knew where it is.
2. Sometimes I just want to get in a cab and zone out and not to talk to the driver. This is especially the case after I've had a huge fight with the guy over the price and he's totally ripped me off. I don't want to pretend to have a friendly conversation after I'm forced into paying double because I'm a toubab although you claim you're giving me a good price.
3. Ultimate annoyance... lack of change. If you drive a taxi and expect to take people from X to Y please attempt to have change in your car. I'm not asking people to break a 10 mille note, maybe just have a few hundred CFA in the ashtray.
4. Taking me the long way home to prove to me that the ridiculously high fare was necessary. I can't even get into this one...
5. Disclaimer: Generally taxi drivers are extremely nice people trying to make a living. I just wish they would take a few suggestions although most of my frustrations stem from my own anal retentiveness and respect for knowledge and order.

Now, I'm back in Thies and my family is freaking out about my vacation, the pictures, and how much Ahmed has missed me. A HUGE shout out to Matt, who is a wonderful boyfriend, and you bought all of the products I requested he purchase on a very embarrassing list. Foremost among these items was make-up for all of my sisters. They absolutely love the compacts and I'm currently the house rock star! You are the best.

Ahmed is now attacking me because he wants to read my new Nylon magazine... yes, he loves magazines!


  1. Wow that is a Pesach to remember! Ms Anat has serious skills todah rabah! I hope Tamar was the designated driver because you and Anat look like you were really enjoying the Absolut!

  2. Alyssa,
    Your seder experience is one in a million! I'm quite jealous but I can easily picture you there...with the goat.