Pictures from Senegal

Sunday, December 27

Christmas

Christmas in Senegal. For the most part I held myself together... and had a pretty good time. I, along with a few new friends, rented a house on the beach in Popenguine, Senegal. We met up on the 23rd in the nearby town of Mbour to do introductions, get some food, and develop a game plan. We took a communal car to the road near the house, climbed up and down a few paths until we emerged at a staircase leading to our holiday get-a-way. The house was just build, and we were rumored to be the first renters. It was two bedrooms, bath, living room and kitchen (with amenities) areas. And then there was the balcony with its' oh-so-magnificent view.

The first night we went out on the town. Eating and drinking at a few of the local French owned hotels and meeting up with the Popenguine volunteer's friends. Day two, Christmas Eve, was organized from the get-go. We discussed menus and organized shopping trips, but mostly we spent a lot of time lounging around and enjoying each other. Near dusk we dug a pit in the sand off the ocean, built a fire and made dinner. We pre-cut veggies, fish, and chicken to be placed in individual foil packets with butter and oil. We cooked at ate them right there on the beach, with drinks, music, and the stars. Dad & Sue, and Celia all called to hear about my first African Christmas.

On Christmas Morning we made chocolate pancakes and scrambled eggs, I opened my stocking for all to see, and we had planned a white elephant gift exchange. In the end I walked away with two new fashion scarves. Shortly after a small miracle happened; I was left alone. I don't think I've been alone in a house by myself since last summer. It was great. Everyone magically disappeared to the beach or to the market and I was left to my own devices. So I started to cook, with movies and music in the background.

I prepared a 6.6 lbs roast which had been labeled tranche steak in the store. We deciphered this to mean hunk of meat that is meant to be cut into steaks... or not in our case. It turned out beautifully. With the help of some new friends we also made roasted garlic spread toast appetizers, mashed potatoes, Marsala carrots, onion basting sauce, and Yorkshire pudding (although admittedly this ended up being so late out of the oven we ate it for breakfast the next day- but still very delicious).

Dad & Sue, and of course Celia all called again on Christmas... and managed to make me cry. Thanks guys. I miss you, too.

Just before sunset we made a group trip to the beach. We took a bunch of pictures, danced, and enjoyed the sunset. It was another volunteer's birthday, so for dessert we made chocolate cake and muffins with chocolate, strawberry, and coconut ice cream. Throughout the weekend I continued to persuade the household to watch classic Christmas movies: Christmas Story, Elf, and National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation. I did not have to persuade them to put Frank Sinatra's Christmas album on. The weekend was filled with both Frank and Christmas music in general... so you can see why I enjoyed these people.

Senegalese Christmas is a bit different. Midnight mass is the main event. After, everyone goes back to the house to commence a marathon of a party. Dancing starts, and drink and appetizers are served all night. By sunrise, people have started preparing dinner for Christmas Day. Unless they've made pork, they share with all their Muslim neighbors and friends. The drinking goes on all Christmas day, as well as the music, and general partying. Out in Popenguine, the speakers are set up around dinner time and the music lasts until 5a on the 26th (awesome, right?).

For the whole weekend of travel, lodging, food, drink, and supplies for the house I spent about $80. You too, can have this African Christmas...

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