Let’s play catch up with some fun visual aids…
First, our last “class” was making Ceebu jën with our teachers. It’s the national dish “rice with fish”. I know, its name is ambiguous. Let’s just say I have tried my hardest to avoid lunchtimes where I have no escape because ceebu jën is served 8/10 times and FISHY. For those of you who know me, so all of you, fish is my kryptonite.
Yep that all gets nice n fried and souped up with veggies and more fried, mashed fish balls, then fish juce dripped alll over till you get….
Then I left for Saint Louis with the fam at 4am and it was a precious little family road trip that of course I slept for until we pulled over for roadside breakfast. We had to park the car across the island and take a taxi because my dad couldn’t let the family/neighbors know he can afford to drive/have a car? I’m pretty sure that would lead to lots of asking for financial favors of which Senegalese culture would make it hard to say no to.
We stayed with his mom in a little compound much like our first village stay. I stayed on the hard couch in the salon. They aren’t into comfy/cushy here. Pillows are like sacks packed with rocks and couches, covered boulders.
It was fun observing family dynamics. The grandma (Mame) spoiling Mouhamed and clinging to Amina, my mom taking on all the cooking and housework because that’s tradition. She would whisper to me little tidbits of background story and her perspective as the daughter in law. I loved it and felt like we were friends, and turns out she only just turned 30 so is even younger than I thought.
Mame was the total Matriarch of all and quite the business woman, running a personal freezer/ice business for the neighborhood.
Mouhamed got even whinier but loved hanging with the cousins and playing in the street which doesn’t happen in Dakar. Mouhamed in the middle of the boys, lunch on the far right.
Tabaski was intense. For a few hours. I woke up and put on my first outfit as instructed to begin preparing potatoes and onions for the soon to come meat.
The men went to the Mosque to pray and wait for the religious leader to kill his sheep first. All the boys were adorable in their boubous and carrying their prayer mats. Mouhamed’s signature sass.
Immediately upon their return the women all sat around on the mat while the men got right down to business. Three or four would pin down the sheep while my dad Ibou, had the knife. No easy way to describe the fact that they straight up killed 3 sheep 5ft away for me and I couldn’t help but watch and also keep my breakfast down the whole time. Especially when they carried them to my other side 3ft away to do the skinning and cutting. Whoo!
All the neighbors showed up suddenly and platters were brought out and everyone ate, then we went to all of their houses to try their Tabaski dishes, completing 4 different houses by the end. I was quite relieved to say sorry, can’t eat the meat! after the graphic preparation.
People are so proud of their sheep, the dishes and all, it was cool to be a part of. The best part is they hung the lining of fat on the clothes line to save for cooking later. Nothing goes to waste!
The eating and house surfing was over in a grand 30min and the rest of the day was sitting around to digest. At night you put on your fancy outfit and sit around at home which was very curious since they made a huge deal about these outfits and spend a lot of money on them.
I took a taxi back to Dakar with 3 other strangers at 4am, froze in the backseat with the ocean breeze but made it safely in time to celebrate Megan’s 21st Bday! which was a ridiculous, great, unforgettable classic night. And wouldn’t be complete without bday balloon crowns.
So random but essentially we came upon a middle aged French man named Daniel here on business (spy/mafia certainly) who payed for absolutely everything all night it was impossible not to laugh at the situation, but I loved having lengthy conversations in French French and not spending money!
I played mom all night making sure things were safe and bday girl was alive. Favorite part of the night was when Daniel said “It must be your Polish blood that gives you this motherly instinct”. He left me with his number saying “if you ever have any problems, call me. I work with the Senegalese police”. And just like that we went home where I nursed the bday girl to bed safely after many a water bottle.
I figured out the gas tank, and prepared us a glamorous potato/onion/egg/coffee breakfast that hit the spot perfectly for her post 21st bday remedy. Fun times!
I apologize for my wordy descriptions but appreciate your sticking through it!
Peace and Love.