Category Archives: Pulaar and tongues

Exploring Kedegou

In the middle of October, I finally got the chance to visit the other half of Senegal.  Paul was not able to go due to a few meetings concerning SeneGAD in Dakar, however our friend Evan and I took a little trip to the Kedegou region.  The first day we spent traveling–sept-places from Dakar to Tamba, and then Tamba to Kedegou with a lunch break in between with Mika who met us at the Tamba garage.  As you drive towards Kedegou, the huts get progressively rounder and the grass roofs steeper, while the overall foliage and tree cover exponentially rises.  The Nikola-Koba park straddles the Tamba-Kedegou border, at which point, the trees rise thick and create layers of canopy that are non-existent in the north ofSenegal.  Once you hit the border of Kedegou, the road suddenly worsens, turning to a red gravel laterite road where they are rebuilding the road.  We watched as the sun sank, casting muted pinks and oranges over dark tree-covered mountains in a scene that is so typical Africa, like a postcard or a National Geographic magazine fold-out.  Funny because, as the cold air whipped past me in the shadows of looming trees, I could feel that we were going somewhere that did not fit into my understanding of Senegal.

The Kedegou house is like summer camp, with outdoor sleeping and living space in addition to separate huts for each room of the house—a kitchen hut, a library hut, etc.  I slept well that first night, waking in the middle of the night from the wet cold to pull the sheet beneath me around me.  That first day, Evan and I explored Kedegou, taking in the city itself–if you could call it that, as Kedegou has no buildings along its main road that are two stories tall.  The Pulaar is slightly different—sing-songing “jam toon” instead of the normal stiff “jam tan,” and “a jaraama” used like “aloha” in that it starts and ends every conversation.  Evan and I went on a small walk along the Gambia River, silenced by the beautiful red cliffs covered in trees in the distance marking the end of Senegal and the beginning ofGuinea.  Birds were everywhere—a violet turaco, its wings shining brilliant red through the rising sun and the sound of a pure-toned angel of a bird too high in the canopy to see.  During dinner at the (creatively named) Africa Restaurant, we met an American named Tad, who is a master’s epidemiology student at the Mailman School of Public Health in Columbia University.  He was in Kedegou collecting mosquito samples to test for a variety of diseases; the samples get processed typically in Dakar.

Evan near Dindefelo

Dindefelo Falls

The second morning, we set off early with the sun on two bikes and our backpacks to Dindefelo.  Volunteers kept warning us of the difficulty of the bike ride, warnings that made us laugh when we did reach Dindefelo –25 km to Segou and another 5 or so km to Dindefelo along laterite roads that were shaded by the trees along the two sides of the road.  Rushing through shoulder-high grass among palms and leafy trees that weaken the force of the sun, it was finally comprehensible why Kedegou and Kolda volunteers ride their bikes everywhere.  We hiked late morning to the Dindefelo Falls, stopping to take photos of Vervet monkeys.  The falls are so beautiful, much more glorious and dramatic than the photos of volunteers captured.  The waterfall sits in a U-shaped dead-end of the canyon, the slates of red granite rock creating latticed designs that jut out and are emphasized by the falling water.  At the bottom of the falls is a pool with rocks behind the falls to sit on.  A group of Dakar folk brought their drum, and with great joy but without suppression, they sang and danced along the edge of the falls to the beating of the drum.  After spending a few hours at the falls, we went back to the main part of the town to find some provisions before setting off for Segou.

At Segou, we stayed at Zach’s campement, which overlooks a beautiful valley of cotton and corn fields surrounded on both sides by red-granite cliffs covered in trees.  While walking through the valley, red-throated bee-eaters zipped back and forth snagging the bugs that come out at dusk and then returning to trees to whack the bugs against branches.  Thap-thap—the bee-eater had found dinner.

Boy napping at Dindefelo Falls

 

Roots

 
boy guarding fields, Segou

We were treated to an amazing dinner of funio, a grain that is similar to Moroccan cous-cous in its texture and lightness, and onion sauce that left Evan rolling around in pain from fullness the rest of that evening and me too full to move.  The next morning, we ate breakfast and had a surprise run-in with Lily, a chimp researcher who works for the Jane Goodall Institute.  There is a chimp family of 10 living in the hills of Segou; Lily studies the most northern group of chimpanzees in Africa.

We then set out for Segou Falls, seeing no-one but a few farmers in the valley for the entirety of the hike.  The hiking trail is beautiful in that it is so naturally a part of the riverbed—granite rocks that form the river bed also form a natural trail.  Hopping from rock to rock, we picked our way to the falls, marked by an exclamation mark.  The Segou falls were also incredibly beautiful, a smaller waterfall that is stunning in its isolation and tranquility.  Little light reaches the falls due to the thick trees and canyon that surround the falls and pool.  The granite rocks form small steps that impede and slow the fall of the water as it falls into a pool that is deep only at the base of the falls.  After our return from this falls, we biked back to Kedegou, the last incredibly long uphill stretch somewhat painful as we climbed to the town.

The next day we headed back to Tamba, spotting two troupes of baboons, warthogs, and a bateleur scavenging a fox-like mammal on the road in the park.  We spent the night at the Tamba regional house with Mika and his two kitty friends Colin and Irv (both girls…) and the other Tamba region volunteers.  Tamba is a huge city, full of different organizations, ethnic groups, and shops—a crossroads where cars leave everyday forMali.  Mika makes us an incredible biscuit, SPAM, egg breakfast before we take the slowest sept-place in existence to Kaolack.  In Kaolack, our group of friends has prepared an amazing pasta dinner.  And then the next morning to Mbour, back on the coast of Senegal near Thies and Ngekhokh where we spend the day sampling local fruit liquors made by a Belgium family.

From our time in Kedegou, Evan and I assembled this list of differences between Kedegou and the north:

  • Goats are extremely short-legged (to the point that they look they are dragging their huge overfed tummies along the ground)
  • Good-looking healthy dogs
  • Small short cows w/o humps and adorable calfs
  • Pulaar difference: no changing of the first letter of verbs while in post-position  (for example No wiyete-daa instead of No mbiyete-daa to say “how are you called”)
  • Biking everywhere and overall lack of transportation (Evan and I were passed by two cars our entire bike-ride—both of them were tourist vehicles)
  • Girls on bikes (even with pagnes on)
  • No charettes or horses (supposedly sleeping sickness spread by tsetse flies kills off all horses and larger mammals)
  • Fewer men wearing traditional clothes
  • Huts are usually circular (not square)
  • Our Kedegou PCVs are here…like Meera!
  • The village bread here is 2x as long as ours (I thought it was French bread at first)
  • People are in general more relaxed—language and greetings are much more lax
  • A higher proportion of people seem poor (it seems that there is a general poverty level among all, unlike the large discrepancy between certain families or villages in the North)
  • People eat more seasonally here than they do up north (starving season actually means something here for the people and not just the livestock as is the case up north)

Bean joke

Paul made up a Pulaar joke last night:

What do you say after you’ve finished eating a bowl of beans?

GASII!! (It means “it is finished” in Pulaar!).


Hands and their uses

Remember in elementary school through middle school, girls would go to the restroom in groups.  I guess, Senegal has a similar phenomenon.  I’m outside, working out with Paul in the late evening (how can it still be 110 degrees F?), and I see the five neighbor gals outside behind their house, just off a pretty well-used charette path,  squatting all five in the sand.  All five little butts pointed down into the sand.  I admit, I was staring a bit, trying to collect info on the bathroom habits of children here.  So many bits of life are still a mystery to me.  Its a well-known fact that most kids here try as hard as possible to avoid using the latrine.  Most kids are just too scared to be in there by themselves.  Well, anyhow, the girls are all relieving themselves (in Pulaar the word for defecating can be said as “going to the bush”–see below for how Jonno figured this one out), having brought the “poop kettle” with them to wash off.  Diannaba is waving “hi” to me as she’s doing her business.  The older girls finish first, wiping themselves down with water.  Then they help the younger girls wipe, pouring water with right hand, and scrubbing with the left.  I hope my vision is too poor to see that they are actually washing with soap.  AhHa!  So that’s how poop diseases like worms and parasites get passed to people..:)  Its hard to think about this and all the other things we use our hands for: like eating and shaking hands.

Side-note about Pulaar and Jonno: The phrase people use for defecating is mi yahat ladde, meaning, “I am going to the bush.”  A long time ago, Jonno, our amazing neighbor in Taredji, was building a spiny dead acacia fence for his garden/tree nursery using branches that he collected from outside town.  He passed by people’s homes, telling them over and over, each time he passed by, “I am going to the bush.”  Later, during our language seminar, Sakhir pointed out that people use that phrase to mean other things. 🙂  Another amazing pulaar phrase is the one for “diarrhea”: reedu dogguru, which literally translates to “running stomach.”


Peanut Harvesting and Gender Development

(this is a blog that started out only about peanut harvest…but has morphed into a blog about women and gender roles here in Senegal.  Its long.  Sorry.  I’ll save talking about FGC for another day)

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This has been an exhaustingly good week.  My fingers hurt from picking mud off of peanuts.  Our Neene Ba is part of a Tostan women’s group in our quartier.  And there are 50 women from the quartiers of Sinthiane and Lowa Demba in this group.  On the 2nd of October they, along with the other two Tostan groups from other Podor quartiers, are going to present plays to the town about some traditional but harmful practices: female genital circumcism (FGC), forced marriages, and ear piercing (improperly done without correct sanitation precautions).  And on the 3rd, the women along with the entire Podor department will take a declaration to end forced marriages, discourage FGC, and encourage proper ear piercing at the local hospitals.

As of today, this group of women has defined my service as a PCV in Podor.  They are all such amazing women, insisting on doing work not usually defined as women’s work as a way out of poverty.  A woman described it to me, as we are standing in their field:  So min liggotiima ɗoo e ngesa, min mbaawi yeeyde e jogaade kaalis. So min liggotiima, sukaɓe amen mbaawi ñaamde moƴƴo, mbaawi janngude haa lycee.  Ina waawi wonde haa universite. If we work here in this field, we can sell the food and have money.  If we work, our children can eat well and study in school until high school.  Maybe even through university.

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And so the women have a field where they harvest peanuts, bissap, cassava, watermelon, and corn.  I have spent the last week helping them harvest all the peanuts.  By the end of the day, there are at least twenty women sitting around buckets of water, pulling peanuts off of the roots.  They stay in the fields from mid-morning through lunch until the sun goes down.  Last Friday, after prayers, I ate lunch with them.  Fish and rice with the best tamarin sauce I have eaten yet, and then ataaya as we worked through the afternoon.  They yell at the cars that pass the field on the Route Nationale.  Ar soɗde gerte! It is my intention to help the women buy a motor pump.  Currently they rent one from the Catholic Mission, but at great cost.  So much is the rent that they can only afford to buy gas for the machine once a week.  Imagine that—a large field that is only watered once a week in this Senegalese desert.  The Sahel.  They fill the irrigation ditches with river water and let it slowly spread across the whole field.  I hope that if they can water more frequently, they can plant a wider and less destructive variety of vegetables.

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At the end of the day, as the sun is setting, the women busy themselves with rinsing the peanuts in the river.  Then Fatimata or Penda spreads them out, counting them in volumetric units of tomato pots—Lingere tomato paste.  No foti pots hande? They are averaging about 30 pots a day, which is about 60 kilos.  Fatimata fills up the can past the lip until no peanuts fall off the mound.  One pot.  800 cfa for one pot of peanuts.  For a day’s work, 24 mille.  Not bad at all.

My favorite part of it all is the women talking and dancing.  They break into chanting, drumming, and dancing intermittently.  If I go to the field only in the afternoon, I am met with them chanting: Kuumba arii, kuumba arii. Coumba has come.  And then the rest of the day is filled with them chatting about Tostan, people, money, work, children.  Malick, this adorable baby comes in on the back of his sister to be nursed by mom.  His two and only lower middle teeth smile at me as he runs over to greet me, little dirty hand extended.  The most beautiful smile I have seen.  There is a lot of yelling and fighting too—the women shouting at each other in rapid Pulaar and Wolof, their voices overlapping as they try to make their points.  Typically about money and how to split things equally.  But in the end.  Aɗa yarlo mi.  You should forgive me.  Peace only.  Every single woman must have her say.

Mali

I have been realizing as I spend time here that I want my work here to empower women and girls.  Like our ancienne, the greatest issues I see here have to do with gender development.  Here in Senegal, serving as a married couple, I experience a contrast in how I fit into society.  Certain rights as a women, that I took for granted in the US, are few and overlooked here.  These differences stem from the Muslim religion and from traditional Senegalese gender roles.  A woman here has little say in how many wives her husband will have, as four is the maximum; but most woman have an opinion on this matter.  (People are convinced here that there are more women than men in Senegal, which is hard for me to stomach as a biologist.  More logically, that men are more likely to be educated and can leave Senegal.).  A woman typically may not divorce her husband, but her husband can divorce her.  The Pulaar language itself reveals interesting differences between women and men.  A woman is married (reseede) whereas a man marries (resde) but cannot be married.  A wife is called the jom suude (head of the room) whereas the husband is the jom galle (head of the house).  Rewbe liggotaako. Women do not work (work meaning in the fields or outside of housework) except for the few who sell food, goods, or produce.  Women pull water from the well, do the laundry, sweep the house every morning, and cook every meal.  PC men volunteers who try to do these tasks have often been met with criticism.  You are doing the work of a woman. I was told in training by a language instructor that a good wife is one who is last at the lunch bowl because she spends the entire meal throwing her husband pieces of fish and vegetables.  Only after he is full does she really start to eat.

Women, especially in rural villages, seldom finish their schooling.  They typically finish college and then get married, have kids, and keep house.  Most women cook for a majority of the day, especially as a Senegalese meal is a huge affair and takes several hours to cook.  Women wake earlier than the men to start sweeping and cleaning the house, then they go to market from 10-12 and then start preparing for the meal at 12 pm.  At 5 pm they start preparing for the dinner at 8 pm.  Most young girls have little time to study because they spend all their spare time at home waiting over the fire.  Empowering women as I see it gives each girl a chance to have a say in how her life plays out.  She can choose whom to marry, when, and who she wants to be.  These Senegalese gender roles prevent women from having the opportunity to be more than a house wife.  In my host family in Ngekhokh, one of the young girls (probably around 15 years of age) Binta is the one who always cooks for the family.  She does not go to school anymore unlike the rest of the kids in the house and it made me sad to see that she already knows this is her life.  Over the mud stove under the stars she would ask me how I got to Senegal.  Avion? Pointing to the sky.  Have you ever flown on a plane before?  It is something unfathomable to her, but within reach of any student who takes the bac for entrance into a university.  And it is something I did at least four times a year during college.  The most she can hope for is a lovely husband, nice kids, and a house.  Perhaps her kids will finish school and get the chance to choose their path in life.

In The End of Poverty, Jeffrey Sachs makes a small statement about how countries begin their path toward development when women begin to work and choose when to have kids.  True development of a country away from poverty starts with gender development.  The women in Podor are making small strides for themselves.  I have talked to several women who take part in family planning through depo injections or birth control pills.  I have met college-age girls who are planning to finish high school and teach or work after they graduate.  The other day, I entered a house and chatted with four girls who are studying at the university in Dakar.  I told them that I was happy but surprised.  C’est le nouveau generation. One step at a time, women and girls will get the tools and resources they need to live as they choose.


New moon waxing to Korite

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Yesterday marked the end of Ramadan. Korite. The whole day a fete where you start the morning off going to the mosque, then eating niiri (balls of millet powder boiled in water) with kossam (yogurt) poured on top. Everyone looks so beautiful in their new clothes. Then people go from house to house greeting families and asking them Aɗa yarlo, aɗa yafo? (Do you forgive me? Do you excuse me?) I see it as a lovely way to set the new year right by asking everyone to forgive you your trespasses of the year before. Paul and I wore our new Senegalese clothes and spent the day eating lunch at Paul’s counterpart’s home (Madame Ly). We did not intend to, but once we visited we were not allowed to leave. Most families kill a goat or sheep or chicken to celebrate. The Bassoum family killed a little male goat that morning, letting him bleed out into the soil of the courtyard. We bought the family three kilos each of onions and potatoes. All the children run from house to house, from person to person asking for change. Those who have more give to those who have less.

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I realize that I have not yet explained a lot about our Ramadan experience. No mbaɗ-ɗaa e Kork? (How goes it with Ramadan?) Ramadan is a month between two new moons where Muslims abstain from eating and drinking when the sun is up (typically between 5:30 to 19:30). Muslims do this as a way to reflect on God and to understand how life is for those without food and drink. Before the sun rises, families get up to eat bread and drink tea or coffee.

Breaking fast

And my favorite part of Ramadan is the breaking of fast (taƴde). The hour before the sun sets, the family is washing cups, chilling kossam, heating kinkilebah (a type of tea here), and starting dinner. Lamine washes the dates. Hawh makes the tuna or macaroni and I help her buy bread at the neighborhood boutique. Hoore is making dinner. Neene is diluting the kossam with water and ice, then mixing the tea with lots of milk and sugar. Some nights Paul and I make bissap juice, which the Bassoum family likes with some added vanilla extract and a packet of jolly jus (coca-cola flavoured). The sound of prayers through the mosque speakers announces the setting of the sun. Bismillah, Lamine says, quickly popping a single date into his mouth. Then comes a cup of kossam, delicious and made from real cow’s milk (delicious but potentially tuberculosis-infected). The kossam is followed up with a cup of warm milky sweet tea and a sandwich usually of mayo and beans/tuna or macaroni. While we eat, we chat and watch the Senegalese channel on TV, now featuring nature clips mixed in with swirling colors and stars to the sounds of Arabic prayers. Neene, Hawh, and Hoore go to the neighborhood mosque for the late evening prayer futuro, and then we eat dinner (or lunch really) as we eat the foods that we normally would eat at lunch.


Seep seep!

The Pulaars live so closely with their animals that there are more than 30 sounds used to call animals in and to shoo them away.  Two sounds for each animal: one to say “go away” (Yah!) and one to say “come here” (Argay!).  My uncle went through a few of them, some common ones that I hear almost every day in Senegalese households.  To shoo a cat (ulundu), its seep seep.  To call in a cat, mus.  For a goat (mbeewa): adja and mba.  Chickens (gertogal): keess and cuss.  Donkey (mbaaba): ani and karl.  Dogs (rawandu): yah and ey.  For a cow (nage): clich and touyoy.

The mangoes are ripening.  Slowly turning yellow.  Little Moussa and Sidi are climbing the trees to pull them down.  We are so impatient, Sidi slashed them all down from one tree, green or yellow.  I came home from class to find the ground littered with mangoes.  Never in my life could I imagine mangoes littering the ground.  Our neene’s father planted these mango trees and built the well: the mango trees so that his family would always have food and shade, and the well so that his family would always have water even when the electricity cuts off and water stops flowing from the water tower to the robines.

I’m thinking right now about a tragic scene we saw on the way to Podor.  We passed what appeared to be a head-on collision on the highway, glass broken everywhere and a body covered by a tarp on the ground in the sun.  All we could see were the feet, sticking out uncovered from the tarp.  While in Podor, we passed a funeral, the women wailing as they walked down the dirt roads.  He lived in Podor.  Its moments like these that remind me how fragile life is and how quickly it can be shattered.  People in Senegal live their lives day by day—in the present—for the future seems so unpredictable.  Inshallah. God willing.  See you tomorrow, haa jango, inshallah.  God willing.  So Allah jabi.  If God agrees.

An interesting behavior that Senegalese have is refusing to wash out wounds and self-medication.  Ami tokosel refused to wash out a cut on her leg saying that it would hurt—I made her wash it.  Another incident: Sidi hurt his leg wrestling with little Moussa the other day, his cut deep and revealing the surface of his shin bone.  Paul washed it out with some antiseptic solution, but only after chasing and calling Sidi back.  Checking up on it two days later, Sidi told Paul that he was taking some medication to help him with another problem.  Pulling it out of his pants pocket, Sidi presented the yellow package to Paul.  Paul was a bit appalled.  The medication claimed to treat intestinal worms—something Sidi bought no doubt on the streets of Ngekhokh.  This happens frequently.  People self-medicate themselves, buying whatever they can find.  In Podor, a common problem associated with malaria is the lack of initiative to go to the health post when malarial symptoms first appear.  To save themselves the money of a health consultation, many Senegalese will buy painkillers from a street vendor when they start getting sick.  The symptoms go away for a couple of days before the patient gets gravely ill with a more severe and developed case of malaria.  The simple malaria is easily treatable, but this more grave stage takes a much longer time to treat.  The chief of medicine at our health center informed us that starting this May 1st, malarial treatment medication will be free to all patients in need of it.  I am hoping that with this new program, we can encourage people to come to the health post as soon as they start to develop malarial symptoms.

The biggest issue in Podor is actually schistosomiasis, a disease caused by parasitic worms found in freshwater sources.  The eggs hatch and develop inside a snail in the water.  Then the parasitic worms penetrate the skin of humans, growing in blood vessels.  The worms produce eggs which travel to the bladder or intestines and are passed back into the water through urine or feces.  In Podor, many people are affected by this disease because the river is used for everything.  Women wash their laundry, dishes, and selves in the water.  Kids play and bathe in the river.  All the gardens in Podor are along the river; water is pumped up to them straight from the river.  Schisto can be extremely easy to treat (de-worming medication) but can have long-term damage on the liver, intestines, lungs, and bladder if left untreated for several years.  The chief of medicine claims that about 90% of the talibe have schisto in Podor.  Paul and I are planning on doing much work to decrease the incidence of schisto.

Paul has promised to write about our volunteer visit to Podor (our new site!!), so stay tuned for more about our new site.


Ina wuli jaw…tiggi tiggi?

No mbad-daa? Jam tam.  Ada selli?  Mowdum.  No mbadu-daa e tampere?  Mowdum.  No mbadu-daa e nguleeki?  Ina wuli.  Ina wuli jaw.  Tiggi tiggi.

We’ve been hearing that the Fuuta is so hot that during two months of the hot season, you do not leave your home due to the heat.  It can get so hot in Northern Senegal that the Pulaar  adjective jaw, meaning “really,” is only used to describe the heat (my Mama or grandmother here in Senegal also used wuli jaw to describe how hot the fire under the cooking pot was one evening).  Paul and I have pieced together that we are going to placed along the Senegal River in northern Senegal in a town called Podor.  Being the only couple in our stage, the Peace Corps staff wants to place us in a location where we have a larger number of resources, projects, and space.  Most volunteers in our stage are going to placed out in the Senegal bush, whereas we are going to be in a more urban setting.

This past week we have been staying in a town southeast of Thies called Ngekhokh.  We’ve been living with an amazing host family.  Galle Binta, as we call it.  Our neene (mother) is lovely Binta Ba.  She sells beautiful printed fabrics at the local market in a small stand plated in corrugated metal sheets.  Upon our arrival, Binta and kaaw (uncle) Omar told us that our Senegalese names are Samba Jallo and Kumba Ba.  Paul has taken the last name (Jallo) of the men in the family, and I the women.  In our compound lives several people.  There are Binta’s three sons: Ibu, Amadou, and Ali.  Ibu and Ali are both car mechanics.  Amadou is a student studying all night long for the bac.  Aunt Aminata (Ami) is the sister of Binta and works as a commercial assistant for a real estate agency.  Mama is Binta and Ami’s mother.  Uncle Omar lives next door and is a Muslim scientist.  Fati and Aleson are a married couple living with us.  Aleson’s mother is Mama’s sister.  There is also Ami tokosel (petite Ami), the daughter of a cousin of Aunt Ami and Binta.  Binta tokosel (petite Binta) is also a daughter of another cousin.  There is also Seedi and Moussa, both of whom I still do not understand how they are related to the rest of the family.  Uncle Ali, Aunt Ami’s favorite cousin is here for a couple days of the week.  Aunt Ami always jokes that Uncle Ali is the cousin of Barrack Obama because he is tall, thin, and handsome.

Our days in Ngekhokh have been filled with studying Pulaar du Nord with our language instructors.  My instructor is Zenaib and Paul’s is Sakhir.  We study from about 8 until 1 under a mango tree in the backyard of Zenaib’s host family.  There is a mamma goat and a baby goat (with piss all up their legs) who spend their mornings getting into the cooking hut and stealing sugar.  The neighbor’s mbaaba (word for donkey but easily confused with baaba for father) hee-haws every hour on the dot.  Two scrawny cats lounge in the shade of the brick wall.  An amazing classroom.

Our family has been so patient.  Everyday is a struggle to understand.  I’ve been saying mi faamani ( I do not understand) over and over again.  Holno wiyette “Pulaar is difficult” e Pulaar? Verbs change in spelling depending on where the noun is and if its plural.  The language is nice in that every single letter is pronounced…but its length is determined by either the letter used or by how many there are in a row.  For instance, there are special d‘s and b‘s who have a shorter sound than the normal d and b.  And a word like duubi is pronounced with an emphasis on the u, drawing it out longer.

Kids are singing tubab over and over again.  Bonjour tubab.  40 of them are upon us, carrying their boards of koranic lessons.  The eight of us in town enjoying a Saturday coke (cold bottles of coke, sprite, and fanta have become one of the best things in the world).  And on the count of three, we run screaming like baboons and waving our arms at them.  Shrieking children and laughing parents.  A single small triumph.  It gets tiring to hear it over and over again.  Mi wonaa tubab.  Mbiyete mi ko Kumba.

We are back in Thies.  A few days of mud-oven making and training in how the program here in Senegal works.  Back in Ngekhokh Wednesday evening.  We are sitting in the disco hut gazing at a bat–she looks like a fruit bat, but I haven’t a guide here for bats.  She’s firmly established her space here, having just now turned herself right side up to take a pee downward onto us.  Good night.  Mbaalen e jam.  Spend the night in peace.