For the past two days I've had meetings "scheduled" with Dioss. Monday he got tied up at the mayor's office (aka talking to his friend who works there), yesterday he went to Dakar in the morning and then taught at the French, private school all afternoon (he called me at 9pm to see if I wanted to meet), and today he was off again. Another PCV put in a large order for cards and Thies is hosting the All-Volunteer conference starting tomorrow so I really needed the cards. Dioss said that I could go to his house and pick them up from someone in his boy posse. I told him I would leave immediately and then got distracted by having power for the first time in 14 hours and running to the robinet to see if the power had brought water. 45 minutes later Dioss calls me back to check if I've been to his house. Dioss and time are not friends so I was a little annoyed he was calling me out on not getting to his house yet especially when I was imagining the boy posse lounging around doing push-ups, smoking, and reading. It turns out he wanted to see if I'd been to his house because he finally redid it! And I'm really impressed. They completely re-cemented and evened the floor, painted all of the walls, re-hung the all of the paintings, and even got a new work table. I definitely wasn't expecting that so I called Dioss back right away to tell him how great it looked. I was also happy to find that he has several hundred cards made so he's all set for the Artisan Expo.
After praising the boy posse on a job well done, I headed off to Mme. Ly's to talk Artisan Expo. She's an old pro and totally ready, but I wanted to check in and see if she had made the accounting adjustments we talked about. Unfortunately he daughter Khady was in Dakar with the ledger and she's the one who does most of the accounting anyway. It did happen to be a fortuitous trip though because during the hour I spent with Mme. Ly three different PCVs called me for final Expo questions and directions to the location. It's much more efficient to have Mme. Ly talk to their Senegalese artisans than me trying to explain it in Wolof over the phone. It was a fairly successful morning.
I had grand plans of printing Deenba pictures that I took in her village and hanging out with my friends at the post office, but my mom asked me to go with her, Ahmed, and Khady to Jeenaba's baby's daddy's mom's house and I've been terribly anti-social lately so I complied. Although, I wasn't too happy about it because I had to wear my fancy Senegalese clothes which act as a sweat box. At this point I also had no idea why I had to dress up. Obviously no one tells me anything. This outing was also an instance of "Alyssa doesn't understand what's going on until months later." A while back Deenba told me that Jeenba and her boyfriends weren't going to get married until he returned from the hajj, this trip to Mecca. I found this a little strange because it's really expensive, he's young, and he just had a baby, but I have no idea what's going on so I took Deenba at her word. I definitely misunderstood because it turned out to be his mom that went to Mecca and today was her welcome home party.
Welcome home parties for trips to Mecca are HUGE here. Going to Mecca fulfills one of the five pillars of Islam and is a big bragging right. Lots of men even change their name after returning to signify that they have made the pilgrimage. When we arrived at Abdou's grandparents' house it was packed, there were huge tents, singers, and drummers. We went inside to greet the family, pray with the woman who had just returned from Mecca (this is a huge honor), and drink holy water. Khady and my mom obviously wanted to leave at this point so I thought it was a quick trip, but four hours later I learned this was not the case. My family sat in a place of honor right next to the woman who had made the pilgrimage so that the crowd of several hundred people could stare at the strange toubab girl. The drumming and singing was actually pretty cool and after about hour 2 sent me into a trance which was only broken when Ahmed spilled pop on me.
The party was fairly fascinating. At one point the woman being honored so overcome with emotion that she stood up, started crying and moving erratically it took several people to guide her back to her chair and calm her. There was also a lot of money exchanged, but I didn't really understand any of that. Dancing around and praying with the honoree also ensued. Most of the time I was staring at all of the women's jewelry/ finery and holding Abdou because people kept giving him to me. I hadn't been to a welcome home pilgrimage party before so I'm glad that I went even though it turned out to be a really long and kind of boring event. I also think I earned brownie points for going so that's always a plus.
Happy Hannukah to everyone at home. I'll be dreaming on latkes and brisket tonight!
Messy, but Warm
11 months ago