Ngoudiane Part II

I wrote this a week ago but didn’t get a chance to post it.

Yesterday was a big day, our fourth official week in country, and we got our site announcement – where I will be living the next two years. Tomorrow all of us trainees will be disbursing across the country visiting volunteer and their sites. It’s an exciting time in our training and not a moment too soon.

Two weeks in Ngoudiane:

Our language class spent 14 days in our village which was good for our language progression but ended up being a little too long. We’ve only had one day off since arriving and even though the schedule isn’t terribly rigorous I’m a bit burnt out. I’m going to chop up the two weeks into what I hope will be funny observations, let me know if something doesn’t make sense so I can elaborate in a comment or on the next post.


Gora – I’m named after my host brother, who is now home. Although he’s half a year older than me, he’s going into his last year of high school in Dakar studying French, Spanish, English, and math. This is fairly common what with state quotas on how many people in each grade can pass the national exam and move to the next grade and if your family needs you working in the fields then school becomes a lower priority. He has a cell phone with a TV, MP3 player, radio, and camera, I don’t think we have this in states (let me know if I’m wrong). Thrillers was being played one night when he first got back, he asked if I knew the song, I told him yes, in order for him to verify whether or not I was lying he then asked me who the singer of said song was, needless to say – I passed.

Daoubda – my 12 year old host brother is naturally one of the funnier people I have met in town. His claim to fame is in the middle of a conversation with the family he furrows his eye brows and with a disgusted look on his face lectures some one in a tone I can only describe as “righteously aggressive indignation”. We all break out in laughter either midway through his lecture or right when he finishes. Unfortunately by trying to get him to do this for the other trainee in the compound, Jack, he clammed up and hasn’t done it since. Hopefully in a week and a half when I go back, he will be back to his normal self.

Banji (aunt) Roquore (row-core) – this is the woman that named me, she doesn’t spend a lot of time in the compound, but whenever she’s there, you know it. She’s having her own compound built next to the school we have a garden in, she took us there and gave us a tour. There’s a beautiful garden with young mango trees, henna plants, and carrousel fruit (I never heard of/seen this before, you spoon out the fruit that is the consistency of pudding and it tastes like pina colada – it‘s not in season yet but I‘m very excited about tasting it). On the way home she carried a medium sized kitchen knife back and terrorized us and the village on the way home. She gesticulated wildly with the knife while speaking, chopping millet stalks that we passed, pointing to herself she stabbed herself in the middle of her chest, and at one point flipped the knife around and bonked a ducking child on the head with the handle.

Fasting for Muslims during Ramadan entails not eating or drinking during the entire and since everyone does it, it’s considered rude and insensitive to eat or drink in public during the day. Generally speaking this really stinks, drinking cokes, an activity that can brighten the day since there is not too much excitement in the village now rarely takes place and is done in hiding when we actually do this.

Breaking fast in the evening is really nice, we generally either eat fries and buttered baguette or beans (chili with no meat) with baguette. Which means that when we eat dinner an hour later that I’ve eaten bread, potatoes, and rice in a very short period of time.

Roof top parties –
Jack’s house has a stair way leading up to the roof and most nights we sit out there with the young people in the complex and drink tea. If it’s not raining either the moon is out and lighting up the roof or if it’s hidden there are countless stars. Being up there with chairs, tea, and Gora’s MP3 player makes for a nice night.

With the hardcore possibilities of beetles that crawl on you and urinate acid burning your skin, fly larva that burrow in your skin if you put on not fully dried clothes, and brutal GI issues, I get pass on the all of them and instead end up with severe dehydration. On one of the cooler days in class, all of a sudden I noticed my torso was sweating, my hands were shaking, and I felt extremely light headed. It took half a week to get my head and body back to normal, the most annoying part was waking up three times a night to pee.

On the last day in town we studied at Jack’s house because there was massive construction going on in our normal class room (it’s is a empty room on the second floor of building being built). Mid way through class some one starts wailing in the yard, we continue on assuming a child is goofing around. All of a sudden, Jack’s host sister is being carried through the door wailing. Later on we had the language teacher ask what was wrong, her mom’s diagnosis was a spirit was attacking her.

In a small town like Ngoudiane, rule of thumb is that you greet everyone you walk past. Children between the ages of 1-3 are either scared of us or run up to stare at us and shake our hand. A little boy of about two ran up to us, shook our hand, and then promptly ran to grab a big stick in the shape of a club, all of a sudden his grandmother screamed so loud we all stopped in our tracks. We turned around and looked, this toddler was one step away from smashing up a little unsuspecting kitten with a club in the middle of the road.

Here are noise I used to here in Chicago:
1 – airplanes,
2 – sirens,
3 – Metra/CTA trains/buses, and
4 – car stereos

Noise that are normal in Senegal:
1 – lizards jumping on my sheet metal roof in the morning
2 – chickens/roosters,
3 – cars honking incessantly
4 – donkey’s braying (they really freak out, we think this is because they are chocking but if anyone knows why they bray please let me know).

Site Announcement

Drum roll…I will be doing eco-tourism in tiny village called, Mbam. My volunteer visit will be with the volunteer I’m replacing, which means I will be meeting my family that I’ll be living with the next two years and seeing my village. Here’s a link to my village’s eco-t info:


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