Monday, January 5, 2009

“Do they know it’s Christmas time?” Not so much.

For the holidays the fairer-skinned crew and I headed to St. Louis (a run-down, New Orleans-esque beach town -- formerly the capital of Senegal). On Christmas Eve we had a fancy dinner at a nice restaurant and attended midnight mass at the oldest catholic church in Senegal (out of what, like three?). The service was in French and even though I had never been to a catholic mass, the motions appeared to be the same -- lots of sitting down, standing up, kneeling, crossing yourself and so forth. The choir was amazing and well-known throughout Senegal. That was mostly the reason for my going, the devout catholic that I am... They sang both traditional Latin hymns and more African-influenced music with drums and clapping. Their strong African voices carried up through the ceiling and filled the church with a really full sound. It was really lovely but I couldn’t help miss my chilly Christmas Eves at home, walking to church with my grandparents, lighting candles and singing carols (in English).

My heart hurt a little as Angela and I celebrated the first minutes of Christmas with ice cream bars bought around the corner at a little boutique, eating solemnly as we walked home.

While in St. Louis we stayed at a volunteer’s apartment who happened to be on vacation in the states (and good thing, too, because I don’t think he would have appreciated 15 noisy house guests in one small apartment...) Because he was gone the electricity was shut off which meant no lights or hot water. We cooked and ate our homemade Christmas dinner by candlelight and on whatever kitchen-like utensils we could find. (Our salad was served in a clothes-washing bucket and we ate off of lids and other various items.)

We spent the subsequent few days hanging around on the island, going to the beach, and eating lots of ice cream. One of those days Ang and I got the hair-brained idea to buy a crapload of shrimp and cook a huge dinner for everyone. I don't think we realized at the time what kind of work fresh shrimp entailed, what with all the de-heading and de-veining. We were elbows deep in fish guts for the better part of two hours. Alas, my shrimp linguini was a success. (I don't like to toot my own horn but it was mentioned by some as being the best meal they had ever eaten in the country....*rubbing fishy knuckles on chest*.)

New Years Eve was spent much the same way; laying on the beach, hanging out with volunteers playing cards. Later that night certain events were rumored to have taken place (events that I cannot attest to because certain members of this blog’s author’s family often read SAID blog...) but I MAY or may not have won a beer chugging contest and MAY or may not have gotten caught trying to steal a bar menu with a giant portrait of Che Guevara gracing the cover....

Now that the holidays are over, it’s back to the realities of village life which include: faulty, unreliable transportation, arguing with sleezy post office workers, rice and fish, avoiding the male population, horse carts, flat bike tires, unwanted attention, bugs and BABIES BABIES BABIES!

My New Year’s resolution? To be more patient. HAHAHA!

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