Ramadan: The Holy Conundrum

Trip Start Mar 11, 2007
Trip End May 2009

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Flag of Senegal  ,
Thursday, October 18, 2007

The days were long and hot but at 7:00 when the sun tucked itself into bed, Ndogo was wicked awesome.  The family prayed together and then broke the fast with a fig and hot tea, why not water first to quench the intense thirst of Ramadan, well apparently when you do not drink or eat for an entire day your stomach becomes sensitive and you need to drink something warm to wake it up again before filling it with cool water.  The tea they drank is delicious; kind of like red bush tea with lots of sugar and milk; they call it "du thé" translation "some tea" and there is no Wolof translation for it because "tea" in wolof is reserved for the specific tea ceremony called "attaya" and attaya is every Senegaleses's favorite boisson or so Ive been told.  When I participate in this ceremony I get really excited about coming home because sometimes the cultural coolness of this place overwhelms me and I cant wait to share it with all of you because sharing it in an e-mail does not compare.

OK so why is Ramadan a "holy Conundrum" a termed I coined while biking home in the heat of day thankful for my water bottle and yet feeling guilty about drinking it in front of my fasting friend, well that's just it; heat of day!? No drinking water? I don't get it.  Its the one thing I could not get over; that and the constant hypocrisy of people asking why I was not fasting and then when I did "try" it ( I lasted only until 4:00 in the afternoon where upon the thirst was so bad I broke down and downed an entire liter of water) people were saying "but you don't do the prayer five times a day-you are not Muslim" then of course I threw my hands up and said its for "solidarity to just know what you are going through and doing to yourself!" then they'd smirk and admit that they were not fasting either....and we'd go eat watermelons. PHOTO_ID_R=photo_shoot_2_004.jpg Now after Ramadan is the holiday of Korité and that had some pretty intense hype from my fellow volunteers who were busy preparing days in advance but I, however, was slightly disappointed once the day materialized, I don't know if its because my family is just so used to volunteers at this point that they some how assumed I knew what was going on or what, but I found the women spending the morning cooking and the men going off to the Mosque to be pretty typical of every other day, then when we got all dressed up I found myself walking around aimlessly by myself through my village looking for friends, little kids asking for money (again what's new about that one?) which I did not have because when I asked my sister if I was suppose to have the money now she said no I did not need to bring it...so I felt like a bit of a "donkey" and just kept murmuring "its coming" which is something I say whenever people ask for gifts that I don't have.  I did eventually find some friends and ate some more food- Korité is the day of food and I had four different lunches also we killed a sheep and I actually saw the killing- my first every throat cutting; then I went and tried to visit all of the  family compounds that I had been invited to...very tiring but at least I looked hot in my Yéré Wolof  complete with head wrap of course.  I slept well that night. 
Ok so that was Korite and I have so much more to tell you, I have a list of things to share and really it all boils down to me wanting visitors here so that I can show you this beautiful crazy place.  I want to show you the colors of the market and feed you the spicy fish and cold red bissap and point out the still beating heart of the slaughtered cow hanging in the market tree.  Come visit. I can put you to work too, murals, school room building, summer camps, I want to build a library here- so much that can be done, and I will send an e-mail out soon outlining projects;  Also please do not send any more packages, I realize that they are just too expensive to send and I will make do with what resources I have and really letters and pictures and very small items are most treasured.  Thank you and love you all
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