Monday, September 15, 2008

CALL ME? #221.77.809.12.50

Hey everyone!

FIRST AND FOREMOST...MY CELL PHONE NUMBER IS 77.809.12.50. To dial OUT of the states you first need to dial 221 plus my number. There is NO to LITTLE cost (approx. 2-3 US cents/minute) for me to recieve calls here, so if you want feel free to call me. If you want to call me, buy a prepaid calling card in the states (everyone who has recieved calls says this works the best). Email me if you have any questions about this. HOPE TO HEAR FROM YOU!

I have discovered that paying 300 CFA (1USD=500CFA) is a good deal for an hour of internet at a cyber cafe; I will be here quite a bit (or atleast until I figure out my laptop and wireless situation).

So...on the money situation, just an FYI for all of you who are spending dollars and euros! I have spent the following in 8 days!

12,500 CFA cellphone, SIM card, 1000CFA of calling credit
7,000 CFA food (i.e. lunch for one day, granola bars, cookies, etc...)
600 CFA internet cafes (2 times)

We have been given a stipend for many of the days for transportation, food, this has helped too, but the US dollar goes pretty far here! It is so nice considering this summer was a very expensive one for me in Europe!

Since my last post, I have been to L'Ile de Goree and into the heart of downtown Dakar. L'Ile de Goree is a beautiful island off the coast of Dakar; it was the main island that facilitated West African slave trade. We visited the Maison des Esclaves (Home of the Slaves) and a Musee d'Histoire; it was very informative, but very sad as well. We were also able to lay out on the beaches and go swimming in the Atlantic Ocean! Before we headed to Goree, we had a lecture on the History of West African Slave Trade and the island of Goree.

Downtown Dakar is swarming with vendors and art markets; it is incredible, but we TOUBA (foreigners) are a magnet for the vendors. Everyone wants to give us a good price or a gift....but we have all learned to BARGAIN and just say NO! I can't wait to buy some wonderful African art for myself and everyone back home!

On another note, the FOOD is amazing here! by far my favorite dishes are Yassa Poulet and yaas Poisson, both consist of sauted onions in a delicious sauce with their respective meat. I am NOT fasting, nor do I think I could with this heat, but I respect everyone who that is not eating. It is quite an experience to see ramadan in action....but from my understanding it is quite a blow to the economy here.

We have finally wrapped up our orientation process...there are a few programs that remain (like a Gender Session), but we have begun classes. I am taking Wolof (7 days a week almost!), L'Histoire d'Islam, Dakar in Transition (a journalism course that begins Wednesday), the Senegalese River Valley (I will be taking this when we head to St. Louis for a month), and a final seminar course that is TBA. The education system here is very interesting. The University of Dakar does not actually begin classes until NOVEMBER, so I am enrolled with a program through ACI at what I have been refering to as THE BAOBAB CENTER.

Lastly, a little bit more on my host family. I live with a lot of people, essentially three generations. There is the grandmother and grandfather (the owners of the home), 2 of their 5 kids, and all of the kids of those two respective families. Family in Senegal is undefinable...everyone is family. There is this concept of TERANGA or hospitality that opens doors to everyone in a community, neighborhood, etc.

Well, I will hopefully post again soon!

Peace and love from Senegal,

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