Sunday, March 21, 2010

a day in the life

What kind of blog is this, anyway?  For the most part, I've tried to keep it informative and not "involved," because I figure that Senegal is more interesting than I am.  I want anyone reading along to know Senegal, and not just my personal stories about being in Senegal.  Also, I keep most of the names of my family and friends out of my blog, because I haven't asked their permission to write publicly about them.  Maybe that's being too careful about privacy?  In any case, I keep a diary here for all things/thoughts too personal to post, so I won't forget it all.

But this entry is going to be different.  This is A Day in the Life--everything I do on a fairly regular basis, everything that constitutes my daily rhythm here in Dakar.  Enjoy.

7:30am - Alarm goes off on my sturdy African Nokia cell phone.  Often, I wake up before this moment.  I groggily get dressed and get my breakfast: muesli (which I buy for myself, rather than eat white bread and butter) with powdered milk, 1 malaria pill, 1 vitamin, and a mug of Nescafe.  I pack my backpack with my needed notebooks and gym clothes, fill my water bottle from the 10 litre jug of Kirene (like Dasani or Poland Springs, but in Senegal), and settle my sunglasses on my head for the walk to school.  On my way out, I usually see Nassouri, the young man from Burkina Faso who cleans the house and watches the front door (he's called a "boy," or a "guardian").  He's sweeping and mopping the salon as part of his morning routine.  We trade greetings (he's like me, learning Wolof and speaking mostly French), and then I'm out the door.

My bed in my room, plus my pajamas

8am - Walk to school.  Depending on how fast I'm going, this takes anywhere from 30 - 40 minutes...closer to 40, really.  What was the most stressful part of my day when I first started out in Dakar (was I going to get lost? was I going to get robbed? was I going to get hit by a car?) has now become one of the most relaxing--a good time to think.  I let my legs find a rhythm.  I try to stick to where the sidewalks are the most substantial and where the shade lies the thickest.  I'm almost always sweaty by the time I arrive at WARC (in time for my 9am classes), but so is everybody else who walks to school, and we all cool down together over the course of our 3-hour lectures.

What I see when walking into WARC--although this photo was taken late afternoon

9am - 12am - Class.  At the WARC, we usually have a break--a "pause"--around 10:30 to use the bathroom, use the computers, or buy coffee/snacks.  It's a good way to divide up the long lectures.  We often dawdle.

12am - 2pm - Class ends, and the quest for lunch begins.  There are many options for a cheap lunch within walking distance of the WARC: the choice of 2 Senegalese plates at the restaurant that's part of the Center, the man making omelet sandwiches in a shack down the street, everything you could want at the Parcours supermarket on la Corniche, chwarma at La Gondole/La Palace, and all the fruit, nuts, and bread you can buy from various vendors in Fann Residence.  The challenge is always to see how much you can get for how little money: a meal for 1500 CFA--around 3 dollars--feels expensive.

2pm - 3pm - Either the start of more classes, or chillin' in the computer lab.  Literally, chillin'--the room has great AC.

3pm - 6:30pm - Somewhere around this time, I walk to the Gym Olympique along la Corniche (you can check out my other post about that here) to work out.  I plug into my iPod, wave "bonjour" to the familiar faces there, and hop on the treadmill or bike.  It's always a very sweaty experience, but feels good nonetheless, and then I walk straight home in the cool late-afternoon breeze to shower.

7pm - 9:30pm - Shower, homework, and waiting for dinner.  I do some of my work in the salon, by the TV with my host sister Aysha, Nassouri, and the two maids in our house, Aissatou and Fatou.  I'm fading fast by about 9pm--hungry, tired, and confused by the French and Wolof programming--but dinner with the family is always good.  Fatou tells us "Kaay, nungi reer" - "Come on, we're eating" - and we gather around a big plate on a low table in the courtyard.  Even though I don't understand much of the talk in Wolof, I love to see everyone interacting and telling stories.  It's a good home, and I feel it's a great thing to keep children together in the family compound this way.

A picture of me in the courtyard taken by Mariam, the 5-year old daughter of my oldest host sister

10:30pm - Bed.  Mine is a very early bedtime in the Toure household, but I can't really help it.  I can't even speak French after a certain point in the evening, let alone Wolof.  I head upstairs, flop down on my bed, fall asleep, and start it all over again tomorrow.

Sometimes, on the weekends, we like go out dancing.  
Senegalese night life starts around 2am.  It feels like a marathon.

And I'm going through photos of this weekend's trip with IFEE to the Bandia Wildlife Reserve, so a post on that will soon be coming your way...and Mom arrives on Friday!  Ousmane and I will be picking her up from the airport at 5am.  Maybe I'll take a hint from Mame Diarra's blog and have my mother write a "guest entry," too.

1 comment:

  1. It is so funny (and sad and happy, all at once) to see that familiar bed! I was showing my mom some of your pictures and she, too, gasped/sighed at such a familiar sight. Love re-living the daily routine through your pictures and words. The walk became an integral part of my day, too. Strangely peaceful through all the noise, honking taxis, stray animals, and sand everywhere. :)