Thursday, November 18, 2010

Tabaski, Sickness, Escape

Tabaski was yesterday, which means there was lots and lots and lots of meat all over and in all stages of butchered to cooked-ness. Preparations started early in the morning when the boys started sharpening their knives on the side of our concrete house and talking about killing the sheep. Shortly there after four grown men held the sheep down as my dad killed them. Last year Tamar and I watched (squeamishly) from the bungalow's porch. This year it was far less exciting and I peeled potatoes while listening to the sheep's death throes. Peeling potatoes is the one and only thing that my family gives me props for. I brought a peeler to country and they are mesmerized at how fast I can peel potatoes with it, but they say it's far too hard for them to use. Regardless, I peeled 5 kilos and potatoes and then sat around the rest of the morning watching the girls cook and the boys butcher up the sheep.

The liver is the first part of the sheep that my family eats. As soon as the sheep is broken down they take the liver and grill it and then everyone gets a piece. I don't think I'd ever had liver before coming to Senegal and I actually think it's quite good. What did disturb me was the fact that I was eating a giant piece of liver with my hands while sitting directly next to the sheep's decapitated head. The ickiness of this really didn't register with me until I got a completely unrelated text from Tamar that jolted me back to "reality." After cooking for hours and hours we all sat down to a meal of mutton, lettuce, onion sauce, and fries. Since we had a million people at our house there wasn't enough room for me to sit at the big bowl with everyone so I had to eat at the table with my dad, this was a very good thing because I haven't been feeling great and he doesn't care how much (or how little) I eat.

After lunch everyone breaks for the afternoon and sleeps off their food coma. Starting in the early evening everyone starts to shower and get dressed in our nice, new clothes to go out. Last year Petit took Tamar and I out with him to see his friends. Fortunately, my family now accepts that I don't really enjoy going out with the older children to see their friends so I went out with Khady, Ahmed, Jeenaba, and Abdou to our other family members' homes. This is much preferable because then I don't have to go through the toubab speaks Wolof conversation every single time we go to a new house. It's also much better because we go out a lot earlier with the little kids and Ahmed doesn't like going out so he wants to go home just as badly as I do.

By the time we greet all of our family members in another quartier and finally find a cab to take us home I think I'm about to die. I'm so nauseated that I can't sit or lay down and when my mom asks me if I want more meat for dinner I give her such a terrible look that she doesn't even try and push more food on me. I spend the rest of the night leaning on my desk trying not to die and to throw up at the same time. I'll save you all of the nasty details that I went into on the phone with Katherine and Jackie today because it wasn't pretty.

Today is also a holiday and since most people were out super late last night everyone slept in this morning which was a blessing because I'm still not feeling great, although I'm much better. The meat fest continued so I barricaded myself in my room and yelled through the window that I didn't need lunch and that I was making myself American sick food aka pasta and tomato sauce. My family found this totally unacceptable, but I gave them the chicken dance "I refuse" gesture through the window and told them to enjoy the meat.

One of the main reasons that I didn't want to eat more greasy mutton and upset my stomach even more was that a family outing was planned for this afternoon. Khady, Ahmed, Mami, Awa, Kotu, and I all went out to visit Deenba in her village. I was very, very excited and was therefore severely disappointed by our expedition. All of us rented a taxi late this afternoon and crammed ourselves in for a very bumpy ride out to Deenba's village. The village has probably close to 1000 people and running water, but no electricity.

Deenba was so excited to see us and I could tell it really meant a lot to her that we all came, so it was disappointing when things started to go downhill fast. I had brought 3 bottle of Sprite as a present for Deenba's family and as soon as everyone had had a drink the complaining began. Khady had wanted the taxi driver to wait for us, but he didn't want to and left which meant that Khady immediately sent Deenba out to look for someone to take us back to Thies... approximately 15 minutes after we got there. So, my family was left alone for the vast majority of the time that we were in Deenba's village. We just sat in her room. That's why there's so many pictures of my family. I was trying to keep Ahmed occupied.

The situation went from bad to worse as it started to get dark. Khady became more irritated that we wouldn't be able to get home, but at least she still interacted with people and was friendly. Mami was openly hostile and could not hide her discomfort and displeasure about being in a village. Ahmed also started to lose it a little bit because we couldn't buy any cookies. After using my phone to call half of Senegal Deenba says that a taxi is coming to get us. Two hours later this taxi arrives. We all jump in and then the sh*t really hits the fan. He and Khady get in a huge fight about trying to cram another three people in the car. The fight also had something to do with village v. Thies animosities, but I couldn't catch everything because they were screaming at each other. This results in him driving wildly around the village and then kicking us out of the car. Khady and Mami are fuming and all of the commotion has drawn all of the kids out into the center of the village where they in essence create a mini-mob and start trying to harass me. It was actually a little scary so I was happy when Mami went absolutely ballistic and started screaming at them.

Eventually a very, very nice man who I think had a car in Deenba's village took us home. This was only after we sat in another stranger's house for about an hour and everyone had at least one more meltdown. Even though the trip was the idyllic trip to the vil that I had fantasized about all day it was still nice to see Deenba's village. I hope she's still happy we came after everything that happened!

Some new pictures are up so check them out!

Since our cab had left us


  1. Alyssa,

    It just sounds like what is going to happen when you get home for the holidays. At least you will be ready and experienced. Looking forward to the "events".


  2. Good Grief!! I hope everybody is ok. Get some rest you really look pale. Nothing like macaroni and tomatos when you're not feeling well!