Tuesday, January 26, 2010

The Good Life

First off, thank you so much for all the comments so far! It makes me feel as if I'm not so far from home :)

Living in Senegal seem to suit me quite well. I have spent the last week exploring Dakar, getting to know my host family and starting classes. Dakar never ceases to amaze me. It seems that around every corner, there is something new to see. We went on a tour of the city with the MSID leaders and got to see some of the most fantastic views I have ever had the priviledge to view (see pictures below). The city is almost completely surrounded by shoreline and much of that shoreline looks like a mix between the northshore on lake Superior and the Cliffs of Moore in Ireland. In other words, it's absolutely gorgeous. We also visited Ile de Goree (last four pics), a place that is literally the closest thing to paradise I think I have ever seen.

My family is huge and full of life. I have 2 host sisters, 4 host brothers, 4 host cousins and a mom who live in the house and 2 other host sisters who visit often. We live in Liberte 3, a tightknit neighborhood in the heart of Dakar. My family mostly speaks in Wolof to eachother and French when they're talking to me. It's been a major language immersion but thankfully everyone's fairly patient with my minor incompetence.

I do have my own room which is really helpful considering that for the entire day, I am surrounded by people. I have really enjoyed playing with the little kids, using the common language of laughter. My two host sisters are great, they are so fun to talk to and they have taken on the personal responsibility of teaching me Wolof and improving my French. My oldest host brother, Babacar, speaks english very well which can be helpful but my sister, Baaly, made a rule of no english in the house...So, it's not that helpful now.

Babacar and I have very similar musical tastes which is both suprising and fantastic. We spent multiple hours the other night watching a B.B King concert on DVD! I am amazed in general, how much of the United States has made it to Senegal. There are insane amounts of American TV and movies, American cars and imported American food (though it's very expensive).

Classes are going well. They are definately more challenging since they are all in French but since I'm farmiliar with many of the topics, it's a good challenge. We started Wolof yesterday which I can tell will be difficult, none of the words are at all farmilier but I am so happy to start and be able to comprehend the going-ons at home.

Well, it's time to head home from school, until next time! (by the way, please excuse spelling errors, I didn't have a chance to spell check...and I obviously don't know how to format pics either)

Monday, January 18, 2010

What a First Day

So, I've been up for about the last 40 hours and feeling a little groggy so forgive my not so polished writing (not that it ever really is) but I wanted to get this up before I lost the access to internet.

I'm just finishing up my first full day(and these are my favorite pics), though it's been more like two considering travel, overnight flights and such. Dakar has really been an experience thus far. It's breathtakingly beautiful while completely impoverished at the same time. One house will be whitewashed and have handmade, inticate security gates while the house directly next to it is gutted, falling down and housing squatters to whom the building could be extremely unsafe. There are people and animals everywhere. As we walked around during the afternoon, we were surrounded by children in brightly colored outfits, taxis, street vendors, horse-drawn wagons, goats, cows, roosters and stray dogs. It has certainly been an interesting place to take in and, needless to say, the place has character.

We did our first day of orientation, the group leaders seem very nice though I have to say my French is feeling a little rusty from winter break after I had to spend the entire day functioning in it. They introduced us to one of Dakar's fishing beaches and I cannot describe how vibrant the place was, there were hurdreds of brightly colored fishing boats, kids playing football (soccer) and tons upon tons of bins of fish. It was such a great first impression.

I was also introduced to a couple of Senegal's tradtional dishes, cuscous with fish and vegetables and onion glazed chicken with fries. Both were delicious! Though I am very very full.

Thanks for all the comments so far, I miss you guys already! Bonne soir! Until next time!


Saturday, January 16, 2010

The Night Before

Tomorrow. That's the day. I board a plane at 10:25am and I'm off to a place halfway around the world, the place I plan to call home for the next 5 months: Senegal.

I feel as if I've been waiting for this moment for quite some time. Visiting Africa was a childhood dream and it's about to become reality...It's difficult to say how that feels. But I know I'm excited, incredibly, enormously and insanely excited. And scared, terrified, actually. But I suppose that's part of the fun, right?

I cannot wait to experience the sounds, smells and sights of Senegal. I'll be spending the first couple days in orientation and hopefully getting to know the city. Then it's off to my first host family, a household consiting of a widowed mother, 5 children and numerous grandchildren.

Thanks for taking the journey with me! I will try my best to make this blog mildly interesting :) I can't wait for your comments.

See you in a few months!