Frogs, dirt and toubabs.

Trip Start Sep 14, 2012
Trip End Aug 16, 2013

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Flag of Senegal  , La Petite Côte,
Saturday, September 22, 2012

Can't believe we have been here just over a week! It feels like we’ve been here forever!

The rest of Sunday was spent quite lazily (Senegalese just love chilling), and the rest of the girls came over so we went for a walk on the beach. It brimming full of locals; there were thousands, swimming, wrestling, socialising. We couldn’t see for people! We got hassled quite a bit by 'charity workers’, so we had found an emptier stretch of beach and had a quick swim in the sea. When we got out a man with a baby approached us. At first, we thought he was another charity worker, but he had come over to tell us that we weren’t allowed to swim because we were on the religious section of the beach! Now the Yoff beach is huge. HUGE! And trust us to swim in the Muslim part…! (Only the toubabs!)

Monday was a long day. In the morning we met with the Ambassador at the British Embassy in downtown Dakar (after our alarms hadn’t gone off and a very quick pack up of all of our things, followed by a taxi ride with our suitcases not attached to the roof, sliding down the windscreen). The building was pretty huge, immaculate with perfect gardens and high security. We had a photo taken for Facebook – go look at the Foreign Office Facebook page! The Ambassador himself was incredibly British and told us a lot about Senegal, especially on the political side of things. He invited us to the Christmas Carol Service (!!!) and has asked Amée if she will play the piano for it. (!!!!!) We then began our 3 hour journey to Joal through the coastal villages.

Joal is a fishing town on the coast of Senegal. It’s renowned for the mixture of ‘types’ of Senegalese people who have travelled here to make a living fishing. Christians and Muslims live peacefully together and there are Serer, Pulaar, Fulani, Wolof people (and some others I can’t remember). There is a small island off the coast called Fadiouth which is all Christian – we have yet to visit though we’re told it’s made up entirely of shells and has pigs walking around everywhere.

When finally in Joal, we met Amadou – our host (could be a little cartoon muslim) , Aicha – his wife, and Marième – their 4 year old daughter. Their son and nephew, Mouhamed and Souleymane are on holiday and return in October. They’re very lovely and very Muslim (we’ve disturbed Amadou about 4 times whilst he was praying, and he refused to shake Amée’s hand!) Amadou gave us ‘the talk’ about the men in Joal and how they will use us for one way flight to Europe. Because they struggle to pronounce our names, we’re now: ‘Katti’ and ‘Ammi’. Our family name is ‘Wone’ (pronounced ‘one’). Which makes me Katti Wone. (Don’t worry Mum & Dad; I’ll always be a Towny!) There are lots of frogs here as it’s the rainy season (those of you who know me will understand why this is a big deal!!!) One in the house every night so far! Not to mention the cockerel – we’ve named him Jacques - that lives under our window and feels inclined to wake us up at 4am. The toilet here is luxurious by Joal standards – first the sit down toilet, complete with no flush or seat! (To flush we have to pour buckets of water down it) Also no sink and no system that can cope with toilet paper! Next we have the shower which comes with 2 settings, cold and harsh, or cold and harsher. We’re preferring the African shower –a bucket of water over the head. We’ve already had a few power cuts and water cuts, whilst the lights, the fan and the internet are temperamental. The water isn’t ‘toubab’ friendly so we have to purify it. Our room is basic but we’ve made it home, Amadou has told us that we can do what we want in it, and it’s almost like a Haven in the centre of chaos. Put all my photos up, love seeing all your smiling faces! Never slept under a mozzy net before – turns out I’m a pro at Senegalese wrestling with mosquito nets!

 Joal itself… very muddy, dirty, sandy, poor and muddy. The people here are evidently poorer and we stand out with our clean/decent quality clothes. As if people don’t stare enough!! Every time we step out the children shout ‘toubab’ or ‘Ammi’ and ‘Katti’ but always smile and wave too. Amee described it aptly ‘it’s as if they have tourettes!’ and we (Amee especially) have had love declared and marriage proposals! Nevertheless, the people here are very welcoming. Each conversation involves around 10 ‘ça va?’s and ‘Naa nga deff?’s, with everyone wanting to find out our names and why we’re here.

On Tuesday we went to the market and bought some rather loud material for ‘boubou’s (Senegalese dresses) and food supplies. Imagine a small shack, a bit like a ship container, with a counter, a large log of wood and a piece of corrugated cardboard on top. Now cut some meat on top of the cardboard with a rusty hatchet and you have a Senegalese boucherie! Incidentally, the meat and noodles that we ate were a pretty nice variation to fish, rice, fish and rice.

We’re gradually picking up Wolof, though when the locals talk to us we are completely lost and they laugh at us! ‘Amée, what’s the big joke? Why are they laughing?’ ‘Katie, I think the joke is us!’

Amée and I went for a walk around the maze of dried mud tracks. We walked past some children playing football (a serious game, not one ‘toubab!’) We met one woman who kept ‘merci’ing us for our work here although I couldn’t help myself from laughing as her handheld radio started issuing the screeches of a cat. Another woman asked me for my clothes. As we returned to the house we heard children chanting. We went to explore, only to arrive as they finished and we were subject to 70ish excited children screaming ‘toubab’!! They started shaking our hands, grabbing our arms, pulling our clothes and pockets, it was chaos and we were surrounded!! Eventually we dragged ourselves away only to be followed down the street! Amadou saw us with the mob and just laughed, so sympathetic!

Wednesday, we got our bikes repaired (for less than £1!). The bike repair shop was something else – around 10 boys under the age of 15 and 4 men working on motor/bikes with no protection against oil, soldering irons, blowtorches. Their clothes were very torn and so dirty; I wanted to give them all a good wash! We also sorted through lots of papers from the past 2 year’s volunteers, lots of teaching resources! Aicha gave us a letter from Ciara and Julia ( last year’s vols) who have told us which places to visit and explore. Amadou showed us videos from a wedding here complete with the slaughter of a cow! Lots of chilling and relaxing so I’ve been reading my Bible a lot, feeling a real sense of peace.

Thursday I had trouble sleeping with heat, mozzy net and Jacques being his pesky self. Also awoke to a rustling, turns out we have resident mice! Gaffa taped up our food and put them in a container! We did our first load of laundry, hand washing, very therapeutic! (Dad would be proud!) Went to the post office with my first postcards for 2 weeks time – I hope they arrive! Had to buy air mail envelopes from a corner shop, the vendor told us he was Obama’s brother and that he wanted us to be his wives so that we could ‘fill his heart with love…’ It then started thundering and lightning (funny as Amadou had said that morning the rainy season was over!) We waded our way through the market where we were given ‘Senegalese tea’, a mixture of herbal tea and sugar, tasted a bit like soap and not very enjoyable! On the way back a man whistled at us shouting ’third and fourth [wives]!’ He already has two. Later we walked to Madame Fall’s, our first friends! Mr. Fall has a degree in German, so it was very nice to be able to speak German and hopefully I can keep it up throughout the year, he wants me to run a German club with him!! We had some more gross tea and Mr. Fall gave us a lesson in Wolof conjugation. Came back to cook! We made Spag Bol, minus the mince and chopped tomatoes (despite Amadou telling us he had chopped toms. at the house!) Not sure if the family enjoyed it, but my tummy was feeling a bit icky so I didn’t have much. Went to bed only to rush to the toilet & be sick. Spend most of Thursday night being sick and very restless, went to the hospital (again lots of goats & frogs walking around!!) and had a malaria test which came out negative and have been prescribed lots of drugs. Prayed a lot as I was in quite a bit of pain then managed to sleep through most of yesterday, really feel that God’s hand is over this trip! Not entirely sure why I was ill, perhaps the chlorinated water or a bug I picked up. It’s cleared up now and I’m feeling fine, just about managing food, but couldn’t manage to go to Thies with Amadou, Aicha and Marieme for a wedding. The internet is finally working and I’m looking forward to a Skype with the family as being ill made me a bit homesick too!

Joal is much more basic and primitive than I’d imagined, but I’m enjoying living the life of a local and finally feel as though I’m somewhere where I can make a genuine difference to people’s lives. My dreams of living in poverty and doing something about it are being realised it would seem! I really can’t wait to start working; we begin observing Amadou on Monday. We are hoping to go to church in our boubous tomorrow and probably chill some more! Thanks for reading my ramble, I’ll post again soon.

Over and out! 
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Janet Wright on

Hi Katie,
lovely to read such an interesting blog, giving us such a good picture of where you are and what you are up to. Will be watching closely to see what God does with you. I've posted your first parcel - not sure how long it will take to get to you.
Thinking of you lots and trusting you will enjoy the adventure.

Corrin on

Hey! Completely forgot that you were writing a blog so it was a nice surprise to read how your adventures are getting on :) Sounds like a great time and if you can, remember to make a personal note (diary/journal) for yourself on how you're feeling and your own memories as sometimes it's easy to entertain in a blog for an audience and actually forget what it was really like to be there once you're back! Glad you're enjoying it though and make the most out of it as it really does fly by! xxx Can't wait to hear about the next adventures! xx

Jo Castledine on

Good to hear how you are getting on. Glad you're over the sickness. You sound like you're being very brave. I will keep praying for good health and safety for you and some happy and memorable times too! Meeting with your Mum and Ruth to pray for you and the other children tomorrow - you are not forgotten. Love Jo

Emily Hobbs on

Ahh Kitkat! It sounds mad/ sounds like home (as in Sri Lanka, Thailand not so much). I promise your stomach will toughen up :). Keep smiling beautiful xxx

Graham Bell on

Good to read such a detailed account of how you are getting on. Very interesting to hear of the different things you have to deal with and how well you seem to be handling it. It will be really interesting to get a step into what you are there for. Will look forward to the next episode as you start in school. Praying for good health.

Amee's dad on


great blog and lovely to hear from two different but complementary view points. Hope your tummy is now better Gerry

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