Emma and I sit down and make our morning coffee (or hot coco) with powdered milk, and instant Nescafe from packets. The maid, Binta, comes in with 2 baguettes purchased at the boutique two doors over. We gingerly sip the coco and eat the bread with nutella, or sometimes jam or La Vache Qui Rit (Laughing Cow). We always find time moving faster than it should, and we dash off to school.
The walk to school takes about 15 minutes. We walk past the Police School a corner that borders a round about that is almost always at a standstill with traffic. Every taxi that passes us honks as if to say, « White girls walking in this neighborhood? They must be lost. » We avoid eye contact with the drivers, and nod off the ones who still think we need a ride.
Saying a prayer, or disregarding ones own life, we cross the road and take a shortcut through the Teachers college. « Do these guys even go to school? » Emma remarks, as we walk past the soccer players warming up in the field. There is almost always people playing there, except in the high heat of the day. Sometimes in formalized practices, sometimes just who ever wants to play.
« Assalam Maaleykum » We say to the guard as we reach school. « Maalekum Salaam » he responds. We exchange greetings, both in French and Wolof, and go into the lovely air-conditioned class room. First up Monday through Wednesday is an hour and a half of Language Class. For me that’s Wolof, for some others that’s French. Our Wolof professer, Sidy is a perfect energy for the morning. We review, and have a lot of back and forth, and figuring out phrases.
By far the best way to learn a language is to live in it, and after only 3 weeks of classes I’m able to pick up phrases, and get the gist of what my host family says around dinner, and was our Senegalese classmates are talking about together, and have small conversations with the boutique clerk. On the street and in stores people sometimes greet us with Wolof, testing to see if we know any or if we are just colonial francophones. Being able to respond in Wolof is important to me, and I’m sure it surprises some people when we can.
A 10 minute break, then the students taking French, and our Senegalese peers come in for our main class of the day. Monday is Cultural Studies, Tuesday is Research Methods and Ethics, and Wednesday is Religion and Global Security. Today we had a guest lecturer from Dakar University to talk to us about Post Colonially and The State. The professor lectured in French with our professor and other students translating most of it. We spent time today discussing corruption in government and society and its prevalence to the point of becoming a part of how things work.
After two and a half hours of lecture (that usually go over from discussion), we pack up and go home for lunch. We walk back through the heat and ringing the doorbell. Generally the kids will come running to the door, but we wait for the maid to unlock the door. After a lie down we sit down for lunch.
A purple and green woven mat is set down and an oilcloth on top of that. We all sit around, our host sister Mary Eitu insists we sit next to her at every meal. A large steel serving dish with a cover holds lunch. After taking spoons we all eat, respectfully staying within our own space in the communal dish. Lunch is usually rice based, with some veggies, and carmelized onions and chicken, fish or beef in the center. Its always flavorful and spicy. Sometimes we have the option of putting gratin, the crunchy rice, on our section, it really elevates each bite.
After lunch we take a nap then walk back to school (for the AC) or go explore the city (or just go get gelato). We get back home before sundown and play with the kids or do homework while we wait for dinner. Dinner is served around 8 or 9, in the same fashion as lunch. Tonight instead of forks we eat the meal with bread. Its salad with grilled fish. The kids are given fish because it is impolite for them to reach into the center of the bowl. We mostly eat in silence sometimes with TV in the background.
After diner Emma and I retire to the parlor to do homework, or play games with the kids. The current favorite games are Une Elephante (played like down by the banks, the Hand Slapping game), Slap Jack, and most recently, spin until you fall down. When homework is done and the kids have stopped playing games we sit in the living room and watch TV. Its a lot of Dubbed violent American Films (Anaconda, Zombie Apocalypse, etc) or soccer. Most nights we sip small glasses of Attaya, a strong and sweet mint green tea.
Before bed I take a shower, cold, because its refreshing, and because there’s no hot water. In the shower I wash my underwear, because there is a woman who does our laundry weekly, and its rude to give her dirty underwear. Hanging my delicates up, and changing into pajamas I take my Malaria pill, and swipe on some lavender essential oil (shoutout to Tina). I read, or write in my journal for a while loving the 5 seconds that the rotating fan is on me, and counting the 15 seconds its away from me.
I tuck my self in to my mosquito net and turn the lights off, listening to the sound of the fan and thinking about the things I’m grateful for in the day. I fall asleep and wait for Amadou & Mariam to wake me up.