African Life

Trip Start Jan 17, 2009
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Senegal  ,
Monday, February 2, 2009

I think I have finally cracked how to survive in Senegal - take everything at about half the speed that we do things at home!!  There is no point rushing things because it doesn't make a blind bit of difference!! Take yesterday for example, me and Lucy, my new roommate were sitting reading in the courtyard at home when our 'brother' comes over and says "are we going to my aunt's house for lunch now?"  I suddenly remembered that we had been invited a couple of days ago but had ignorantly assumed that it would be for dinner and not lunch.  We both started running around like headless chickens trying to look presentable.  After not very long we decided that we looked as good as we were ever going to and came out of our room.  We then stood outside for a good 10 minutes before our brother said he was ready, he had to come with us because we didn't know the way.  Got to the house and lunch was only in the beginning stage of being prepared!!!

As well as adjusting to the different time concept I think I have possibly made a slight breakthrough at school.  This only happened after I walked out on Friday because they left me with the kids for the entire morning and didn't tell me what was going on!!!  I had nothing prepared and the kids had nothing to be getting on with so it was almost stale-mate.  Went into school this morning after mulling things over this weekend with a huge great big speech prepared for the head-master.  Asked him for a quick word (not something that ever happens) and started on my speech.  I barely got 3 words in and he said "Yes, we were in a meeting, it happens every 2 weeks".  I thought to myself, well I know this I wanted to voice my opinions on how frustrated and lost I felt.  I also mentioned that I should never be left alone with the kids because it is not part of the job description but that was just brushed aside.  He said that I now know about the meetings so can prepare activites for the kids the night before! Just felt like he had completely missed the point - that is the Senegalese attitude for you!!!  My teacher on the other hand was brilliant.  He said that he would help me prepare stuff for the kids and then spend a couple of minutes explaining it to them.  This of course still means that I will be left alone.  After I am done here I am going to the office of the company I am here with to discuss it with people and see what they have to say.

My experiences here have improved dramatically since the arrival of my roommate.  It is so comforting to have someone going through the same emotions you are in the bed just a couple of feet away.  Her experiences may be coming to a premature end though as her bag STILL hasn't appeared.  Luckily she had quite a lot of things in her hand luggage but the most pressing matter is that her malaria tablet supplies are running low and the rest is in her bag somewhere in the world.  Hopefully though something will be able to be done so she can stay.

Before we realised that her bag may never turn up, me and Lucy were discussing taking Wolof lessons, the local language.  Although many people speak French here there are a few members of the family who don't and none of the kids speak French.  I think it really would be a great investment and would make it easier in school as well.  I am starting to pick up a few phrases but it is all very basic and not very handy after the first 10 seconds of conversation!  I think even if she does go home I will still take them but it would have been good to have a buddy there with me.

On Saturday, after having spent the afternoon on the beach, me and Lucy walked home (about 6 kms) because the taxi driver wanted to charge us 10 times the fare.  This turned out to be a blessing in disguise because we had to walk through the fisherman's village - a completely different side of life.  These people are struggling to find food for the day and barely have enough money to survive, it really hit us both the importance of what we are doing here and the impact we can have on their lives.  I loved walking through it because all the little children came up to us to shake our hands - I discovered that this was so they could tell their friends that they had shaken a white person's hand!

I am starting to be more sociable with the other volunteers now as well, we have only had one night off since Lucy arrived! Not that we have been out drinking every night but getting home at 2 and up at 8 does get quite tiring!

All in all life is very very good here - I can barely remember home now!

Also, I am having real issues with uploading photos - I think I need to bring a man down here to help!  Got to dash, no time left at the comp.
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