Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Salsa, birthdays and babies!

First and foremost, congrats to Colin and Monica!!! I was informed a couple of days ago that the two of you will be heading done the isle sometime in the future….It better not be before I get back :)

Life is good as usual and time seems to be flying by here in Dakar. I’m only here for another two and a half weeks and then off to spring break and a new city for the internship phase of the program. I can’t believe I have to leave my host family so soon! I can already tell, I’m going to miss them like crazy. I guess all I can hope is that I get another family that I love just as much. As usual, I’m really enjoying all the sights and sounds of Dakar. See the pictures above for a below taste of my normal walk home…

My newest discovery is Senegalese Salsa! I found this great little restaurant where there are salsa lessons twice a week. I cannot believe how good the instructors are. Salsa, in general, is very popular here, much more than I would have guessed. Every Senegalese person seems to know how to dance better than the average Minnesotan (not that Minnesotans aren't great dancers too). They have a whole new flavor than what I’m used to, it’s insanely fun to watch (and attempt). I’m trying to learn all I can to bring back home and teach all my Minnesota salseros! I’ve only attended class once but I’m going again tonight and I’m sure it will be just as great. I cannot tell you how good it feels to dance. I was really missing it, all my creative energy had no outlet! They throw salsa socials too that are free and really fun. I even got a bunch of other students to go and now they’re learning to love salsa too!

As for things in the family, my sister Ami (the one I lived with for a week) had her baby on Sunday! Everything went really well with the birth and both mom and baby are healthy and happy. I got to see her last night and she’s absolutely gorgeous! (that’s her in the last picture) I think her, Ami and Fallu (her other little boy) are staying with us for the week so I’ll get plenty of time to hang with them. The baby doesn’t have a name yet, the naming happens at the baptism next weekend but I’ll keep you posted. Baptisms are very important in Senegal, it should be a cool thing to experience.

We had two birthdays this past week in the family, one for my little brother Khadim and one for my little cousin Ibo. Birthdays aren’t too big of a deal here but we had fun playing and attempting to sing happy birthday in Wolof. I made a cake this past weekend in honor of the birthdays and, let me tell, the modern conveniences of cooking in the US make cooking an absolute breeze, everything here is a bit more complicated and takes much longer. But, even considering some ingredient and cooking challenges, it turned out pretty good. It definitely wasn’t the same…but good either way :) It was a definite hit, especially with the kids and my host mom and sister were overjoyed just with the fact that I actually cooked in general.

My Wolof is steadily improving, I can understand bits and pieces of conversations and answer a handful of questions…I really have to study in the next couple of weeks though, my internship is going to be mostly in Wolof! I have found out what my internship is going to be, I’ll be going to Thies, a city about an hour and a half northeast of the capital. I’ll be working at the Centre Doomi Nepp, a center that works with street children and reuniting them with their families. I’m really happy with the placement as I’m very interested in working with urban youth. It’s also a nice placement because I won’t be far from Dakar and can visit often.

Well, that’s it for now. Keep the emails and comments coming! I miss you all!


  1. The baby is so cute! And I love all the urban pictures, especially the bus! Leave it to you to find salsa classes in Senegal. Haha. I'm glad your cake turned out! Does your family have an oven or cake pan? That was the biggest problem for us when we tried to make brownies in Shanzu (my village). Mama ended up making a make-shift oven with heated sand, and we just baked the brownies in a pot. But they tasted good!
    So what are your spring break plans?? I can't wait for spring break here either, just a few more weeks away! We'll be missing you extra this month with the St. Patrick's Day festivities coming up. Maybe you can teach your family about the holiday and celebrate with them!
    Love you Kaela!

  2. What fun to have a newborn in your home for a bit. She is beautiful- I love the hair! I look forward to hearing about the baptism and what that's like.

    It sounds like your internship will be perfect for you. And only 1 1/2 hours away from Dakar- even better.

    I'm so impressed that you are being immersed in 2 languages. What an incredible opportunity for you. I'm sure it's exhausting for you sometimes though.

    Fran and I have watched almost all the African Globe-trekker adventures and I always feel like we get a little taste of your life now when we watch them. It's really been fun for us.

    Keep the great posts coming- I love them!
    Take Care,