Archive for December, 2007

Merry Christmas!!

Wednesday, December 26th, 2007

A day late, anyway…

I had an excellent day, giving headlamps to my host parents and feeding the children candy. The food was incredible, but that’s for another day’s post. As you can see in the picture, my little sister Miriam is here to visit until New Year’s!!

I’ll be leaving Friday to spend a week in Ziguinchor and the Casamance region, where I should have access to internet. Also, I have been uploading photos. I have not sorted through them, labeled them, or put them in sets, but they’re still worth a look if you’ve got time to spare.

How were your holidays, and what did you do??

Yes I am a tailor, why do you ask?

Thursday, December 20th, 2007

I haven’t been doing anything terribly interesting lately, which ought to explain the lack of postage. Unless you count the interesting headaches and upper spinal aches* I’ve been having, which if they insist on becoming anymore interesting will be taking an extremely interesting trip to the doctor. Oh what fun.

I did get my clothes back from the tailor with only a small amount of Playing Chicken, however they are not exactly as I imagined them to be. I anticipated this, but I’m still a little disappointed. The top of the two piece outfit is far too loose, and the dress…

This is what my mother had to say about the dress: “You should not spend any more money at the tailors here. You should buy fabric and take it back with you, and make things there because this is a pretty fabric, and look!! Look what he made with it!!”

Mind you, this was said all said in rapid French. Perhaps if I get brave I’ll take a picture of the devastation. Thank goodness I have a fair quantity left.

Tomorrow is Tabaski. I’m going to hide in my house until the sheep slaughter is finished, and then I’ll be celebrating with one of my friends as my family is Christian.

Happy holidays!!

* The spine is just when I walk.

Sneaky White Lies

Monday, December 17th, 2007

I don’t know when I made the rash decision not to bring any shawls to Sénégal with me, but I would dearly love to go back in time and kick myself.  They would be perfect for evening knitting here.

I suppose that two good things come out of this. Firstly, I guess I’ll be forced to go to the fabric market and bargain for some nice pashminas.  Oh, darn. Secondly I’ll have to hurry up and knit some new ones.  After all, I did bring laceweight!! (Still don’t want to talk about the stash, even while there’s a little thing called the Atlantic Ocean that currently comes between us. Stash is to knitters as malaria is to mosquitos? Hey, at least we *like* stash.)
Not that we were speaking of tailors, but speaking of tailors mine promised me my clothes for Friday and as of today they’re still not finished.  Sénégalese culture is much more relaxed about time than American, so-while frustrating-this is not unusual or problematic.  If I weren’t taking it in a slightly American fashion, the whole process would be quite fun.  We knew in advance that our things would not be ready, so we decided to fight back in advance.

Armed with a clever white lie* about how we were planning to travel this weekend, we went back four days in advance to move him along a bit.  “Yes, yes, Friday, it’s sure”.  Right.

Two trips Friday, two Saturday and two today have really made no dent.

The next step??  I’m enlisting my mother.  Don’t mess with me.
* White lies are very acceptable in Sénégalese culture.  You use them to ensure that you don’t hurt someone’s feelings by your actions, or by revealing a truth you are aware of that would hurt them.  We decided-at my host mother’s suggestion-that this was a good time to use one. Hey, if he’s going to white lie about the date of completion… It’s kind of like a complicated form of bargaining.

There are no classes.

Saturday, December 15th, 2007

I just wrote a whole entry about how university classes didn’t actually start, but it disappeared. To make a long story short, the international student courses have started but not the normal university courses. They fooled us again. For some unexplained reason there are still tons of students all over the campus every day…perplexing.

I have just become aware of the wonders of ibuprofen. I very rarely take medication for anything, but I came down with a fever on Thursday which kept me in bed for all of yesterday afternoon. It was the kind of fever that makes all of your muscles and joints ache, and your head float. Once I gave in to it, I was pretty useless to do much more than lie in my bed and doze. I finally decided that things were getting ridiculous, so I walked to the pharmacy. Voilà!! I took a pill, and an hour later I registered no fever at all. It still comes back, but I can knock it out for a few hours with a single pill. What amazes me is that it must have been a pretty high fever. I registered between 100 and 101 this morning, and I felt ten times better than yesterday.

I have nothing to complain about; one of my friends probably has malaria.*

I’m trying to figure out what to do with my newfound time,and so far it seems easiest to raid the Baobab Center library as frequently as possible.

I probably should be starting my Integrative Cultural Research Project (ICRP), but it’s just so much easier to put it off. Anyway, there isn’t really much I can do about it until the holidays are finished. I want to work with a tailor, but they’re all stuffed to the gills with people’s outfits for Tabaski and Noël.

This week is reserved for writing my paper for History of Islam. 8-10 pages in French…

(Photo taken in the holy city of Touba. Go research Amadou Bamba and the Mouride brotherhood if you want to understand religion in Sénégal.)

*Perhaps it would be wise to specify that she is on a different anti-malarial than I am.  Stop worry, Moom.


Sunday, December 9th, 2007

Knitting!! I know you thought I stopped doing that a long time ago, but you were wrong. I know that’s a crappy picture, but since when does a circular shawl look like anything other than a wadded up bonnet before you take it off the needles?? Once again, this is the Azalea pattern from The First Book of Modern Lace Knitting.

I feel like I’ve mentioned it quite a few times with exactly the same description, but I can’t remember…

Anyhow, here it is!! The long-awaited photo.

In other news, university classes are starting tomorrow. I’m going to try to get there to look at an 8:00 African Lit. class, but somehow I have the feeling that it might not make it into my permanent schedule. Three guesses as to why. ;D


Thursday, December 6th, 2007

Okay fine, I was wrong. It’s “cold” now, at least during the night. I woke up at 6:30 AM and couldn’t sleep because I was cold with just a sheet. I got up for my sweater and towel, made a nest, and failed to warm up enough for a nap. I passed the time by unintentionally starting to write a story (mentally), but it wasn’t very good. My alarm finally went off at eight, and I crawled out from under my mosquito net and started the day. By midday it was hot, but I guess I can no longer complain.

This sea urchin pretty accurately describes how I felt about the whole ordeal, although it helped that we a) celebrated Hannukah and b) had to cancel a class. After a good nap things ought to be fluffy again-and tonight I’m going to ask for a blanket!!

I figured out the photos!!

Wednesday, December 5th, 2007

With that said, it’s going to take forever to upload them all. For now, here is a taste. I have added to the mouse.courtois flickr account, but I have to say that I’m pretty angry at flickr in general. It’s a really really scammy program. As soon as I figure out a better storage method I plan to remove all my photos from the database and keep them elsewhere…

Anyway. The photo is a close-up of barnacles on the île de la madeleine.

A bientôt!!

“University classes”

Tuesday, December 4th, 2007

THey don’t exist.  No, really I’m not kidding.  We’ve already completed one credit for the course in St. Louis and our Wolof classes are finished after this week, but both of those are through the Baobab Center.  Also through the Baobab Center, we have a Cultural Seminar (which is actually pretty useless due to the professor’s tendency to interrupt *constantly*) and History of Islam which is excellent.  So, that is four credits.

The fifth will come from my Integrative Cultural Research Project, for which I plan to work with a tailor.  I haven’t cleared the idea with my professor yet and I haven’t found a tailor, but I imagine that it won’t be that difficult to clear it all.

The sixth (and anything after that) will come from the university…

Classes have not started yet.  The credit for the courses comes from taking the test that comes at the end, not from actually attending the classes.  With that said I’ll still have to go because a) I’m not fluent in French and b) whatever subject I take probably won’t be something I know about.  There are student strikes at the university right now due to severe overcrowding issues in the dorms,  and nothing will really start until the 19 or so…when break starts.  We have time off between the 17:19th and the 7th or January.  After that, we’ll finally start classes.

In January, each of us spends a week in a rural village.  The program is finished in February, after which I have two weeks set aside for travel.

The point of this story?? I’ll be spending a month taking my university courses, thank you very much!!  It’s a little terrifying to have only that much time, but I have faith in the system.  Inchallah*, right??

I *may* take French, along with something else.  We’ll see.

*Arabic phrase meaning “God willing”, adopted by Wolof

Happy December!!

Sunday, December 2nd, 2007

The weather did cool down after my little outburst, although mostly at night.  I’ve pulled out the long pajama pants and a sheet, and I close all of my windows.  I even wore jeans when we went out last night!!  Despite that, it’s pretty hot today.

This morning when I left my house, my friend followed me down the street for about ten yards.  It was pretty funny.  I was relieved to see him because the other day, there was a dog chasing a chicken with much squawking and fluttering.  I was fearful that it was my ruffled friend, but he’s just fine.

Also, I took some fabric to the tailor last week.  I am waiting for a dress made from this fabric, and a two-piece outfit made from a solid, bright blue cotton.  The shawl is commencing, and I have found someone who is going to show me how to upload photos at the cybercafé!!

I forgot to take pictures of the pictures I drew for the tailor, but I should have them back around the 14th.  Things are a little backed up because the muslim holiday Tabaski is approaching along with Christmas, and everyone is going to the tailor.  If only I had a machine here…