Thursday, April 22, 2010

I Want Biskrem

I've sworn off Dakar for a long while. I'm hoping not to go back until I leave for Ghana, not because I don't love sushi lunches, ocean breezes, and the company of my fellow PCVs, but because if I have to drive into Dakar one more time I may throw myself off the new statue. Riding into Dakar yesterday, I was "enjoying" the back middle seat of my sept-place when the car totally broke down in the middle of the road. After the men pushed it to the side of the road and quizzically looked under the hood, they pronounced it broken and our driver called another car. We were right outside of Jackie's site which is literally 10k from Thies so I thought this was going to be a quick fix so I didn't call her to ask her to bring the essentials for any Senegal catastrophe - water and a big pack of Biskrem, but this was obviously stupid of me. An hour and a half later as I was baking in the almost mid-day sun I thought I saw a mirage, but it was actually the other car coming to get us! Hallelujah!

Three and half hours after I started my adventure I was in Dakar... I live 70k away. At the office I met up with Elizabeth who just returned from a lovely European vaca and we got a delicious sushi lunch. We also went to the bank, bought Jackie a new computer charger, did some office work, and actually acquired Junior Achievement material (!), all before I dragged Elizabeth to Dioss' art exposition.

Earlier this week Dioss gave me the formal invitation to the event and I took notice because it was a real invitation, it was even laminated (Senegalese people love laminating things). Therefore, I was expecting this to be a fairly legitimate event for which I brought make-up all the way from Thies to Dakar. I'm happy I did. I was shocked at how nice, well put together, and well attended this event was. There were about twenty artists represented, with ministers from the government in attendance, and did I mention the unbelievably delicious hors-d'œuvres? I think Elizabeth was pretty happy she came after the appetizers started to be passed around. There were kabobs, spinach pies, delectable miscellaneous things, shrimp, nems, and great desserts. Needless to say Elizabeth and I acted like any proper PCV would and gorged ourselves on the free fare.

I think Dioss was a little overwhelmed by the exposition. I know that he doesn't like Dakar and that he doesn't like speaking to new people or in front of crowds which he definitely had to do since he was interviewed for the national TV station. I'm glad I went although I wasn't really needed. He had his posse with him and I think I may have further overwhelmed him, but I did snap a couple of pictures which are up.

This morning, after eating ice cream and then a salad for dinner (neither of which were necessary after the expo), I left for Thies because I had a meeting concerning the camp we're putting on in the fall this afternoon. Traffic in and out of Dakar is never fun. But, when "construction" has closed a four lane highway into one and one is sitting in the middle of the back seat of a station wagon choking on exhaust fumes, it much like imagine hell to be. Add to this that another PCV's Senegalese counterpart keeps calling me and demanding that I do something for him while I'm telling him that I'm in a car and can't hear him because there's a jackhammer outside my window, made for an exceedingly 3.5 hour trip back to Thies.

I really don't want to be upset with this man, but he sent me over the edge today. Because of all the traffic I barely made it to the meeting on time when I was planning on getting there early to gossip with Jackie (disappointing) and I literally got 15 phone calls during this meeting. I was told that I MUST do this RIGHT NOW even after I explained that I was busy, exhausted, and that this wasn't my problem. After many calls, text messages, and me angrily complaining in English to the disruption of our meeting I finally was strong armed into doing what was asked of me because it may really help Dioss' mom. It was just so infuriating that something had to be done at that exact moment in time when I have to plead, beg, and bribe people to show up at a meeting or do anything that may help them. A little advance notice, aka more than the 10 minutes I was given, would be much appreciated and then I would have been happy to help. It wasn't the other PCV's fault at all and she helped explain things to me in the end, but doing business here in unbelievably frustrating and this incident sent me over the edge.

Immediately after the camp meeting I headed home to Skype with my Aunt's class who put together an AMAZING art supplies drive at Murry Lake Elementary school. The event is still in progress and it's incredible to see how many supplies have already been donated. Dioss and I are really excited about some projects that we have planned for some schools in Thies. To make all of this possible the students at Murry Lake have learned a lot about Senegal and Africa and I've really enjoyed talking to them. Below are the announcements they made to their school to describe the purpose of the drive. HUGE SHOUT OUT to Murry Lake Elementary.

We Need Your Help!

Murray Lake students are collecting art supplies for the children of Senegal, Africa. Why? Because kids in Senegal (even grownups) don’t know how to be creative.
Many of them have never even seen a crayon or colored
pencil! This is a problem because when they have problems there, they don’t know how to think creatively to solve them.

When: April 19 through April 30

Where: Boxes are in the Murray Lake Lobby

Young 5s and Kindergarten: Pencils and sharpeners (hand held)
First Grade: Crayons
Second Grade: Markers
Third Grade: Water color paints
Fourth Grade: Colored pencils
Fifth Grade: Plain white paper

It’s also okay to donate items that other grade levels are collecting.
CASH DONATIONS are also needed to help cover the cost of shipping.

Questions: Contact Mrs. Titche – Third Grade Teacher at


Arts and Crafts in Senegal

Kids in Senegal need arts and crafts to learn to be CREATIVE! Senegal is a poor country in Africa. Do you know what they do for art? They don’t do anything! Most people there, even grownups, have never even seen a crayon or colored pencil!
We draw flowers or robots and then color them in. Mrs. Titche’s class wants to HELP send the children in Senegal markers, crayons, plain white paper, and lots of other art supplies. To HELP kids in Senegal, you can pitch in too!
Mr. Noskey will put this information in morning announcements and Friday’s newsletter. Each grade will get one supply to bring in. Here’s the list:

Young 5s and Kindergarten will bring in pencils
1st grade will bring in crayons
2nd grade will bring in markers
3rd grade will bring in water color paints
4th grade will bring in colored pencils
5th grade will bring in plain white paper
Now, if you want to help Senegal, say, “I do!”

I know that this post if epically long, but one other thing... the moment I walk into my compound everyone pushes me over to the sheep pen to see the twin baby goats that were born this morning at 4am. My mom forced me to go pet said goats and then said what a shame it was that I wasn't able to get up with the rest of the family to watch the birth at 4am! Petting the goats this afternoon was just about as much "animals" as I could handle and I can't imagine anything I would rather not do more than get up at 4am to watch a birth of two more animals that are going to continuously wake me up at 4am since my room is next to the sheep pen. I may be growing a small soft spot for small children, but we are a long way away from liking animals.


  1. Alyssa,

    Very nice post, it is great that Diane's school is getting involved. There will be some heavy skyping when all the goods hit Senegal, I hope. It would be neat for the US kids to see their counterparts receiving the goods and some instruction in how to use. Relative to the animals, think long term, some more really good meals.


  2. Aunt Diane has done a fabulous job with her students. YOu two are a remarkable team. I think the Murray Lake kids would love pics of the twin goats. Could be a new school mascot. The timing seems fortuitous. Seriously, I'll bet they are adorable!