Pictures from Senegal

Wednesday, April 21

25 More Random African Things.

1) Poop is Wolof for poop.
2) The packaging of powdered milk advertises that it is fat filled… and it’s a good thing.
3) Stop signs are red and white, octagonal, and say "STOP." This took me months to realize as they hardly exist anywhere. I’ve either seen three of them… or seen the same one three times, it’s unclear.
4) The first American company I saw in Senegal was Shell Gasoline, followed by Hertz Rent-A-Car, Aldo, Guess, Diesel and Curves. Rumors have circulated about an Apple store, but it remains to be seen.
5) Male PC Volunteers have starting wearing head bands. I’m worried.
6) In the US, traffic jams prevent you from getting to work on time. In West Africa, stopping to greet friends and neighbors has the same effect: mandatory and time consuming.
7) On any given day, I can see any one of the following animal body parts in various states of decomposition in the street: chicken head, leg of sheep, squished frog, fish guts, unknown animal jaw, and the list goes on…
8) One of the goals of the current Mayor's administration is to put public restrooms in our town's market area. Others include: rainfall drainage infrastructure, new school classrooms, annexing the distance from town to the beach as part of Mboro, and city wide trash management program.
9) If I have an extreme case of diarrhea it’s perfectly acceptable, neigh welcome, to run to the nearest house and ask for the squat toilet. But they’ll probably ask you to stay for a meal and tea.
10) Peace Corps Volunteers have been in Senegal since 1963, this year we will double the number of volunteers in country to total over 300.
11) The Catholic community in Mboro is hard core and fasts all day long during Lent. It’s a cultural thing I’m sure, to give them street credit with all the Muslims that fast during Ramadan (which is only about 30 days). They also give up a bad habit and don’t eat meat on Fridays. Some “extremists” don’t eat meat on any Friday, Lent or no.
12) Senegal may be a 3rd world country, with poverty meaning anyone NOT making at least $1 a day, but that doesn’t stop its people from holding numerous fundraisers to send money to Haiti.
13) There is a rap song that when translated has a title of “On the Head of My Mom.” Hmm.
14) It’s a good thing Akon came out to Senegal for Independence Day (Apr 4th) because people were just starting to forget about him.
15) The concept of preventative maintenance does not exist. Things are fixed after they break; simple as that.
16) All sort of yearly planning is done around the rainy season (July through September): home improvements before, gardening during, holidays after.
17) Senegal has a unique type of wrestling, pronounced “Loot,” where the first person to fall down looses. It usually last about 1 minute… but there is 4 hours of entertainment leading up to the “big match.”
18) Follow up note: one famous wrestler renamed himself Mike Tyson. Genius.
19) There is a Senegalese version of MTV. It plays Wolof, French, and American music videos. I’d like to tell you that the American videos are the same ones that are popular in the states, but I’m afraid to check the charts.
20) Prostitution is legal; but frowned upon religiously and thus still and underground operation.
21) I live in a coastal city but have yet to find a single person who knows how to swim. What is that?
22) Except in major cities (read: where there are large populations of foreigners) there is no such thing as a store that sells more than one type of commodity. Hardware, fabric, electronics, prier mats, kitchen utensils, bread, meat, jewelry, shoes, hand bags, sheets, processed food products, fresh food products, gardening tools… all these items have their own special vendor and location.
23) Although the export standards are very high, the in country commercial retail standards don’t even come close. However, some still find registration too complicated and that’s probably why people sell product out of baskets, off tables, and not in a stationary place.
24) Sometimes I find a fruit that looks familiar and go to taste it, only to realize I was way off. This is how I found melon while looking for papaya... turns out melon is football shaped here. And there's a mini mango season that tastes more like a pear apple than a mango, even though I was actually trying to buy ditax. Also, there is a cranberry look-alike I've yet to fully decipher.
25) There is no such thing as a Senegalese cook book. Recipes are passed generation to generation. I’ve been interviewing my host Mom, but I doubt I’ll learn all my favorites in time.

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