Saturday, January 9, 2010

first firsts

My first day in Dakar was a day of many other firsts.

  1. First time seeing African cows: they have long horns and humps, and they come in many colors.  They also blocked the road--but since this also happens with Holsteins in Danville, I don't consider a cow traffic jam a first.
  2. First time eating communal-style around a bowl, with the right hand only.  (The left is for "intimate" activities.)  This meal was followed by a second, same style.  It will take a little while to make eating with my hands elegant.
  3. First time drinking bissap juice (from a hibiscus flower).  It's bright purple, and very sweet.
  4. First 6 - 7 hour crash course on culture.  All in French, and some (very good) English.  Our French is terrible.
  5. First visit to fishing beach, with many long wooden boats painted white, green, red, and black, on the shore or bobbing in the surf, many men aboard.  Big fish market all down the beach.  Fish heads in the sand, hoof-prints of horses everywhere.
  6. First visit to the house of Ousmane Sembene, the famous Senegalese film-maker.  It's not a museum, just a locked-up house.
  7. First shower.  This only counts as a first because it will probably my last shower with hot water for a long time.
Tomorrow, we see more of Dakar and meet our host families.  I don't know what to feel--I'm too tired--but I am hopeful.


  1. Great images and reflections, Dounia. Enjoy the warmth! It is below zero here. Our snow shoe trek was bracing.

  2. What kind of fish were they bringing in? And what was in the communal bowls?

  3. Bissap juice sounds awesome.