Saturday, July 9th, 2011
Yesterday I came back to my house after a night out at chicken dibi and Pamanda’s with my friends and it was like nothing ever happened. I used all of my knowledge of Senegalese culture I've accumulated after two years to show absolutely no emotion and to pretend that nothing had happened. If there's one thing I absolutely cannot deal with, it's passive aggressive behavior so this was a huge test of willpower and patience. Everyone in my family also pretended that nothing had happened and welcomed me home after a long day with open arms. My mom acted normal, Khady wanted to know where I got my necklace (a Mme. Ly creation bien sur), and Jeenaba handed me a tired and grouchy Abdou. They asked about my day and had already been told that my replacement, because she is slightly older, didn't want to share a bed with me and would be staying at the center during de-myst (and until we figure everything out).
What's more miraculous than the relative calm I returned to (which actually wasn't that surprising since being direct isn't a part of Senegalese culture), is that we had a new addition to the family and utilities! Awa had a little baby girl earlier this week while I was in Dakar. The big news with the family was that Ziabata and his immediate family (Ziabata is actually a cousin) paid for Awa to stay in the hospital for two days after the birth. This was big, BIG news and Jeenaba was clearly jealous. They've been telling everyone about the hospital stay it seems to be more exciting news than the reason why Awa is in the hospital... the child. Anyway, the baby is a girl and wont have a name until it is baptized next week. She isn't nearly as cute and chubby as Abdou was, but I also haven't spent a lot of time with her.
The other big news is that the water is back! After three months the spigot in our compound is finally full of water. It's amazing. Everyone is super excited about it and we've been filling everything in sight for fear that the water will turn off as suddenly as it appeared, but so far so good. We actually have RUNNING water. The water doesn't come on just in the middle of the night for 30 minutes; it's on all the time. Or at least it's been on for the last 36 hours, which makes it the longest stretch of my service. Obviously this is happening after I have a fight with my family about how much I pay/ if I actually paid and after I told Peace Corps that I never have electricity of water. Fingers crossed I will live in the lap of luxury for the next 5 1/2 days.
This morning I met up with Nancy, my replacement, to start her tour of Thies and my work partners. We went to the post office to meet everyone there, put her name on the box, and I gave her my key. From there we went on a little tour of all the boring administrative places in Thies. Where to get your residency card renewed, they mayor's office, and all of the banks. From there we went to see Mme. Ly.
Madame Ly immediately set us to work putting out of all the bracelets on the table. It was past 11am and she was just getting started, go figure. It was a good first taste of Mme. Ly's style for Nancy and she did get to look at everything up close. Nancy worked with artisans on product development and marketing while she was a PCV in Kenya so she has a great background, a lot of experience, and some great ideas to not only help Mme. Ly, but also the artisan association at large. I'm really excited to see what happens! In the meantime the association is still going strong. Madame Ly is going to make the second connection between artisans and buy a bunch of leather bracelets from Aly's leather worker, Demba, in Mboror.
After spending some time with Mme. Ly, we had a nice lunch and then hung out and escaped the afternoon heat in the relative cool of the center. I spent the night at home with my family just hanging out.