Pictures from Senegal

Sunday, January 3

New Years

New Years was great; different from all the rest, yet the same in so many ways. The holiday wasn't just the one night, so you're better off hearing about the whole experience.

I headed for Dakar on the 30th where I put in some quality time by the pool and went shopping at what can best be equated to a "mall." The place had Diesel, Guess, and a few other places connected to the largest grocery store in country (curiously named Casino). Going to Casino is much like going to Target in the states. One goes for a few specific items, perhaps some spices not available in village, and walks out with two weeks' worth of allowance on random foods that are missed but not needed (coconut yogurt, a bar of chocolate, and red bull to mix in New Years cocktails). I don't know why this happens, but it's really like when I was bored at home and would wander through Target, becoming mesmerized by it all, and walk away with things I don't really need. Come on, how many times have you bought a DVD you half-liked because it was on sale- and you went there for shampoo which is located on the other side of the store? Yeah, don't judge. In the evening we enjoyed a truly authentic Chinese dinner. We went to the type of place where you need to speak Chinese in order to get the good stuff- and it was probably some of the best I've had.

On New Year's Eve we sat around in the morning like it was a typical Sunday at home (vegging and generally doing nothing) and I got my first hair cut in country. In addition, I was finally able to do laundry with a washing machine- first time in nearly 5 months. In the evening a few of us went downtown to do some pre-party shopping. I got a much needed belt to hold my now way-too-big pants up, and a pair of earrings to dazzle up my party outfit. From there we went to a friend's house for dinner/ appetizers and cocktails. The apartment is amazing by Senegalese/American standards... and from now on I'll be calling it "84." Anyway, Christine and I borrowed the bathroom and when we were done she actually said to me "There's the Alys I recognize from the Facebook pictures." It felt great to get cleaned up... so naturally we took a lot of pictures of our eyeliner, earring, and high heal clad selves.

Just after eleven we set out on the town. We passed by a club that was strangely empty- they actually said they weren't opening until after midnight. That's how serious the Senegalese take their parties; the party doesn't start till after the holiday and goes all night! Anyway, we went to the apartment of another volunteer... and nearly a third of the volunteers in country were there! Dancing, more cocktails, champagne, and pictures are all that I really remember. Just after midnight a few of us wanted to go back to the club and check it out. Though the cover was expensive (about $30), you only live once right? However, our plans were derailed by the men in our small group. The only true inhabitant of 84 got sick and after we took a taxi back there and put him to bed, the rest of us felt too tired to continue on. We all passed out too early.

The next morning was a little fuzzy. But after watching video of my amazing dance moves and getting some food, a small crew of us went back to 84 to lie in bed and watch movies for the rest of the day. In the evening we were kindly invited to partake in the Korean New Year festivities. In Korean culture, everyone becomes a year older on New Year's Day. They make a special meal (soup I have no idea how to describe) that after finishing, one is said to have grown one year older. The soup was accompanied by a noodle dish and chicken dumpling soup that Christine had made. Desert was yogurt and fruit. We went back to the Peace Corps house after and I quickly passed out... I really needed to catch up on sleep.

On the 2nd, we had another day by the pool. This time we had beers and girl talk. In the early evening we went back to 84 where Indian food was served for dinner, and the drinking began again. This time we were celebrating a friend's birthday. We did special shots at midnight and then left for the infamous monthly ex-patriot party downtown. After more dancing, meeting new people (mostly- ok, all- men), and some debauchery we made it to bed by 5a; not that we really slept.

Next, enter day two of recovery... accompanied by a return to Mboro and the end of a long weekend of celebrating. There are a lot of inside jokes that accompany this weekend, but it just seems wrong to explain them. However, they made the whole event a million times more worthwhile than the story above depicts; from renaming the cat, to redefining Wolof verbs, to learning about George Adamson... it was all too great. Thanks to club 84.

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