Monday, October 29, 2007

Bonjour, St Louis!

I just typed this long entry and of course it was deleated. Its Murphys Law. TIA.

We arrived at the University Gaston Berger de St. Louis safely yesterday. This is where I will be living and taking classes for the next year. But let me start at the beginning...

Last weekend I went to a church service in Dakar. It was full of africans about my age. The worship music was beautiful and organic and with a full choir singing in 4 different languages. They made me stand up and introduce myself. The pastor spoke for about 2 hours on the role of women in the church. I actually agreed with most of what he had to say.

I had my final Wolof exam and did pretty well. I just wish that I knew more every time that I get in a cab or try to buy something. I had a batik lesson and made some pretty awesome tapestries that came in handy later.

I talked to the dr who prescribed me some powder stuff to drink to settle my stomache. Im just sick and tired of being sick and tired. Im much better than before but still not 100 percent. Theres so much processed sugar in my diet here and not enough exercise. Ive been doing yoga, but I want to start running again soon here on campus. I cant wait until I have a normal poop! That will be a day to celebrate.

We went out dancing for our last 2 nights in Dakar. The first night I went with Megan Alaska and some of her Senegalese friends to a shi shi but shady club in Dakar. We wanted to jam on the dance floor but we found that most senegalese young people dance close and slow to almost every song; including the fast ones, because that closeness is frowned upon in public. Oh well, we managed to make fools of ourselves anyway, because we're toubabs. Embrace Awkwardness. The club started filling up with old white men and their entourages of beautiful young senegalese women around 4 am. It was kind of nasty and Megans friend explained that these young women get free drinks and some money in exchange for doting on gross greasy toubabs (mostly frenchmen). Prostitution is rampant in the clubs in Dakar.

The next night, Natalie, Annie, Megan Alaska, and I were hanging with Moussa and friends on the terrace. We ended up going to the Senegalese equivalent of a house party, which was a bunch of young people dancing to pumping music in a courtyard. 1000 CFA to get in and all the drinks you want. Moussa, Mactar, Jimmy, and Amadou had to stick close to us; though; becuase men would just grab us and start dancing waaay too close. It was funny at first, but we left after some men started to pull us apart and shout at each other. Our bros were gentlemen, though; and ushered us out. It was quite a night.

The next morning we left early for St Louis. Moussa actually started to cry when I hugged him goodbye, but I promised to visit. The bus ride was about 4 hours north through the African plain. There were very few buildings along the way; but lots of huts and goats. It was all very primitive looking and organic, almost stereotypical african. Lots of beautiful scenery with the baobab trees along the road. We got to campus which is about a 10 minute taxi ride from downtown. The downtown is located on an island off the coast, so we have to cross a bridge to get there. The university campus is big and open and brown. My roommate hasn’t moved in yet; but the cockroaches sure have. I spent a good amount of time just cleaning my room of dead bugs and dirt. The batiks came in handy to hang up on the dirty walls. I really wish I had some good art. This year I will be showering with a bucket of water that Ive fetched from a sink on the first floor. My toilet is a hole in the ground. Im an expert squatter now, though. Running water in our dorm only works between the hours of 11pm and 7am, to conserve water across campus.

We have been meeting with professors of Arabic, Islamic History, Wolof and French, to set up the times for these classes. Weve met with Baydallaye Kane, our faculty advisor here. Hes sort of a legend and we love him and he is able to help us no matter the problem. Sick? Call Baydallaye. Bad grades? Call Baydallaye. Lost a limb? Baydallaye, baby.

Other than that, weve just been walking around campus and eating in the cafeteria. That’s a trip Ill explain later. Some of the girls and I were marvelling at just how much this feels like camp. Its like We walk from cabin to dirty cabin to the mess hall with different sessions during the day. Weve pulled out the photos of our families and wear a lot of sunscreen. Camp Gaston Berger. Tomorrow we have arts and crafts and are going to the swimmin hole.

I feel a little lost and disoriented, but this will pass. The educational system here is so disorganized that some students are now taking final exams from last semester, some have started classes today; some don’t start for a few weeks, depending on the department. We haven’t even chosen our classes, and will do that ¨sometime this week¨. We have wolof for 6 hours a week and intensive French. I have learned to roll wit it. Its been good for me, I think.

Okay, I think this is all for now. Oh! Skype!
We now have 3 computers for us 10 americans, so internet usage will probably be more reliable. Ive bought skype credit, so we can set up Skype dates if you get it too. If you email me your phone number, I can call you sometime as well. Just remember that my time difference is 6 hours ahead of WI. My skype name is c.skroch .
Also; if you send me mail/packages, please be sure that you send it to my address at the Universite Gaston Berger in Saint Louis, care of Baydallaye Kane NOT Dakar anymore. The address is on my first blog post. I have postcards I want to send, but I have yet to find a post office.

Always classy. And a little awkward too.


Anonymous said...

I love the part about camp. Sort of across between Timberlee and Manila. I love your blogs! Mom

Steve (your Bro) said...

mei mei -

I wanna skype! Email me for a time.


Catherine Skroch said...

whats your skype name, bro?