Thursday, October 21, 2010

I Rarely Know What's Going On

This morning I felt a lot better so I decided to take a run, hilarity ensued. I run right when I get up to start the day and I'm usually gone before most people are awake in my house and return when Deenba is just coming outside to start sweeping. Sometimes I see Ziabata or Awa getting ready for work in the morning, other times I just let myself out and then come back. It's routine now so when I came back to the house a little after 8am and found the front door to my compound bolted shut I was a little confused. A confused toubab is very, very funny.

First, I stand in front of the doors repeatedly trying to open them. No luck. Second, I peer through the keyhole, which isn't operational we use a deadbolt, and see that yes the deadbolt is locking the door. Third, I vainly try to open the door again. Fourth, I again stand in front of the door as people in the street start to notice and laugh at my dilemma. Fifth, I realize that no one is hearing me knock so I go into my neighbor's compound. Sixth, I scare the living daylights out of the little girl who is terrified of me. She started wailing, obviously. Seventh, I walk through their compound to yell over the wall at Deenba that I'm locked out. Eighth, Deenba arrives laughing hysterically at the door to let me in. Ninth, she doesn't let me in and instead hands me a giant bag of trash to take to the street since I'm already dirty. Tenth, I return to my compound where Deenba continues to laugh and me and tell me that we have to lock the door now because my mom is scared of visitors. And that's how you get into your compound when you're locked out.

It took me hours and hours, the vast majority of the day, to piece together why my mom was scared of visitors. It was the Senegalese roundabout way of telling me she was afraid of death, a visitor who struck in the night. Ziabata's mom died early this morning. Obviously no one told me this and I had to ask a hundred stupid questions about the days events before Deenba realized no one had told me and let me in on what was actually going on. From what I can piece together Ziabata's mother, who I didn't know because she lived in St. Louis (a city north of Thies), died late last night/ early this morning. Ziabata who has been working in Pout came back to Thies and my dad was called on his commute and came back to the house to make the trip to St. Louis. My host mom and dad, Ziabata, and Awa all got into my dad's truck and headed off to St. Louis while I was going about my normal day completely in the dark. And I was apparently locked out of my house so that death didn't strike again.

While I was still blissfully unaware of the turmoil my family was experiencing this morning, I proved that I really am a masochist. For some reason, unknown even to myself, I went back to the formation on child abuse that started yesterday that the people in my office planned. I have no idea why I went back. I knew that my only purpose was to sit there and be a toubab, which is exactly what I did for over three hours. I also wrote a couple of letters, texted a bunch of people, and read 50 pages of a book. It was painful. I really wouldn't have too big of a problem going to formations where I could be remotely helpful such as anything to do with business or common sense. I definitely don't have any experience with child abuse in Senegal, nor do I want to. I am proud of myself that I didn't completely lose my mind during the formation and I hope that I earned some more brownie points with my new boss who barely acknowledges my existence.

During the formation I was fantasizing about all the wonderful things I could have been doing during this time. All of these fantasies were just a figment of my imagination because when I tried to put these plans into action I was met with a bunch of voicemail messages. Shout out to Katherine for being the only person in the nation of Senegal I called today who actually answered her phone. The principal at Lycee Technique, I'm fairly certain, is ignoring me which means I'll have to hike out there next week to get a meeting. Dioss is being ridiculously elusive and maddening and his mother is terrible at answering her phone. Since I didn't know if anyone was actually home, I stayed at home and helped Deenba around the house. No one helps her when my mom isn't around to yell at other people.


  1. Everyone thought Joan Didion was so smart with her "Year of Magical Thinking." Humphhhhhhhh your mom figured it out years ago just lock the damn door!!! No grim reaper at her house!

  2. Alyssa,

    An interesting post. Pretty cool that locking the compound will work that well. At least when they only want your presense at a formation, it sounds like you can do whatever you want as long as your butt is in the seat.
    It should be a good weekend, M will not lose a game and it may be warm enough to golf here.


  3. Your life makes me laugh.

    A lot.