Monday, April 27, 2009

i'm Dakar.

So it has been a long time, huh? Well at least I have a valid reason.

For the last 3.5 weeks I have been living in the Commune of Guédé Chantier, the village that we are doing our projects in. While I must say that being in the village was quite an experience, I am still trying to figure out if that experience was a good one or a bad one. In terms of our project, we completed all the objectives, increased awareness, and got people participating, so it can be considered an overall success. But on other fronts....well lets just say that I prefer Dakar.

So have to admit I was complaining about coming to the village before I left. And, unfortunately, of my fears, dreads, etc came true, at one point or another over the course of the stay. Figuring where to start complaining is proving kind of difficult as usual but I guess I’ll tell you about my ailing health first. I was (an still am) pretty hella sick. Unfortunately for me it’s not explosive aerosol shits, no, I have a mystery disease. Woohoo! I’ve been in a perpetual state of nausea for about two weeks, before, such that before, during or after eating I have the uncontrollable urge to vomit, followed by stomach cramps that could kill an elephant on steroids. And whenever I stand up I get really dizzy and lightheaded. One day I passed out in the middle of the day, and then the day after I passed out and vomited on myself. I know what you’re thinking…”Damn Jess, you sexy beast…” but not really feeling so sexy right now. So there’s that. And I’ve taken all available meds, and visited the village idiot, I mean doctor. My only hope was that the medicine man could slaughter a chicken and bathe me in its blood and all would be well. My fingers were crossed. But unfortunately, I was informed that it was "too hot to heal". Well isn't that exciting. So I turned to consulting my friends and collegues, and we have drawn the ultimately scientific conclusion that I have some little friends. Some little friends, living in my belly. Some little, angry, hungry, friends. Thrilling.

Well at least my life in the village had consistency! While still mysteriously ill, the village was still pretty hot, and I was quickly running out of books to read. So, woo! On top of that, I had made a beautiful outline/beginning to my final research paper for the semester, with all my works cited and everything, and my computer decided that it would be a good idea to “misplace” all of the documents I worked on between 4.6.09 and 4.12.09. So bye-bye outline. And bye-bye sanity. I was going to get up one day and start writing so I could just finish the paper and then could relax once I get back to Dakar, but I am feeling a little bit of resentment for my electronic friend right now. So I am going to have to wait until I have another bout of excitement over APA citations to start it, all over again. It's been about a week since I even tried. I wouldn’t be surprised if this whole blog disappears too one day along with the rest of my life. If that’s the case I will try and telepathically complain to you across the continent. I’ve heard the power of the whine is above all other things the most easily communicated through ESP. It must be the high frequency.

One good thing that I didn’t tell you is that I now have an enormous library of Senegalese music. Everything from squishy French love songs to club-thumping fantastic baby-making music. I have a complete repertoire. And I have to say the music here is all pretty fantastical. There are those times when I can’t tell one song from another mostly a fault of the “national music” called mbalax (pronounced balakh..with that jewish ‘kkhh’ at the end), pioneered by Youssou Ndour, in which every song sounds exactly the same almost all the time. But since it is reasonably tolerable and at times downright awesome, its ok even if I think each song might be something like 300 minutes long. There is good reggae too and then some Senegalese rap which is interesting and from time to time not as obnoxious as its US counterpart. So I’ll have a lot to share when I get back and will at least be able to host a fabulous Senegalese dance party.

While in the village, I decided its on my top 5 list of things I want when I get back to the USA. That list goes as follows:

1. cheese pizza, extra cheese, extra large, NO I’m not sharing!
2. Matt (so a little creepy, but honest)
3. Coffee, coffee, coffee, coffee, coffee, coffee, coffee
4. Gary burgers!
5. cheese

This is by no means set in stone and will probably be re-arranged to include something vastly alcoholic, sushi, and also ice cream.

Surprise! I did find something I actually like about the village. I mean, yea it’s beautiful and picturesque and there are cute snot nosed runts running amuk, but you and I both know that ambiance is not always everything. Unless the power goes out…

The power keeps mysteriously, yet consistently, going out. Blame it on government malfunction or people trying to re-wire their satellite dishes, whatever the cause, over the last few days we’ve had consistently occurring black outs. You can’t really tell when the power goes out during the day, it is still hot as the dickens and everything you touch sticks to you and you lie their as your sweat pools in the small of your back, and every other nook and cranny you can imagine. But at night all the obnoxious TV programs are involuntarily silenced, all the lights with their nauseous yellow glow, all those radios blasting jarring static, all is involuntarily silenced. Even the Senegalese people themselves are quieter, more tranquil, like their plugs have been momentarily pulled. This is the time when I really love the village. And there is only one thing I do. I lie on the roof, listen to music, and let the never-ending blanket of stars suck me up in its glory. Crosby, Stills & Nash are sweetly lulling me into a stardust stupor, whispering Guinevere into my ears and the breeze sweeping off the river effortlessly harmonizes with the timber of their voice as I drift to sleep under the immeasurable sky.

Ok, totally mushy I know, but didn’t you like it just a little? Yea, I thought so.

On an equally mushy side note, it has been about 40-43 degrees Celsius here since we arrived, and it is only getting hotter. To translate that into American, it’s about 106-115 degrees of hotness. Holy sweating my figurative balls off…!

So that was, more or less my trip to the village. I only have another 12 days left in Senegal. It's not really something I want to think about, to be honest. I hope you enjoyed reading all of my complaints And in the event that you blow this off completely because it is so intimidatingly long…. well you know what I think of you.


Jessie Nafy Lô