Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Garlic Bread and Vegetables

Last night Emily, Clare, and I went out to dinner with Kether to say goodbye because her time in Senegal is over and she's headed back to the States at the end of the week. Sad. When I came home the power was out and my mom, Jeenaba, and Awa were sitting outside with sleeping Abdou and Ahmed. I have a very difficult time spending time with my family when they're all sitting in silence watching terrible Wolof comedy shows, but I really enjoy sitting in the dark and gossiping. They were ready to dish last night. The topic of conversation was a very interesting one: past volunteers.

My family has been hosting PCVs for well over a decade and they remember every single one of them. I wonder how I will be remembered. Probably as the weird girl who read a lot and colored with Ahmed all the time. I also always have candy. Hopefully that's a good reputation to leave behind. They remembered Abdou (a past volunteer) as the best Wolof speaker (they assured me that I'm in second). Charles was a Vietnam vet who had recently lost his wife and enjoyed sitting on the porch of the bungalow drinking a nice (probably warm) beer. The volunteer right before me is remembered for making babagenoush, which my family universally hates, and going to Dakar all the time. One PCV liked to dress like people from Mauritania. My favorite was a PCV who also liked to cook for himself. He made garlic bread and pasta with just vegetables (I would cut off my right arm for either of these things right now). My mom was absolutely appalled both that this past volunteer made such disgusting meals, but also that I've made similar things. We're obviously both crazy. She went off on a long tangent enumerating the ways in which vegetables are good. Pounded to a paste, fried, and boiled in oil all past the test. Lettuce and tomatoes are apparently OK if drenched in mustard and vinegar. Good to know. Another interesting point was how much more they preferred the female PCVs and then didn't tell any stories about them. It really was fascinating listening to my family talk about all of their volunteers. At least I know that I will have made some impression by the time I leave.

This morning it was back to work. I called Dioss' mom, Madame Ly, who I've been meaning to call and just haven't gotten around to it because I wanted to breach a difficult subject. She sells all of her jewelry and trinkets outside a hotel across town so I trekked over there to meet her. I really wanted to talk about condensing the products she brings to the expo. Last year her "booth" extended into a common area and enveloped a couple of other artisans because she had so much stuff. While she makes all of her jewelry, she also sells some wood carvings and baskets which she purchases from other artisans. We are going to have wood carvers and basket weavers at the expo and it was goal to show her that it's better to just bring what she's really proud of (her jewelry) and leave the other things at home. She totally got it and it wasn't at all awkward which was great. This was a major topic to check off my list and I'm starting to get really excited for the expo. It's going to be awesome!


  1. Alyssa,

    If you have to chop off an arm, I would lean toward the left, it doesn't do much anyway. The expo sounds like it is going well and will be a sucess. Nothing much happening here other than 60 degree highs and I need to cancel some meetings to go golfing.


  2. Why am I so fascinated by their opinions? Are there any generalities drawn about Americans? Do any of these people keep in touch? Do you have any clue that the past PCVs have had any influence on them whatsoever?