Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Such a good day… I don’t want to leave in 37 days! (11/12/2008)

Was it because we spent our Wolof class at Marche HLM looking for fabric for our Tabaski outfits or because we ate “The Best Pizza in Dakar (according to Zator)” at La Galette or because we went to L’Insititue Français and had drinks or because we skipped our Dakar en Transition class to take our work “into the field” by exploring downtown Dakar for the entire day or because we saw “Entre les murs” in La Place de l’independence or because some of us are now elves in a Christmas play for American children in the Dakar-area that our day was amazing?

So, today Sarah, Chelsea, Daniel, Thomas, Stephen, and I…along with some others who didn’t quite make through the entire day with us…did all of the above from 9AM to 7PM. We started our days by heading to Marche HLM for a special four hour Wolof class; everyone on the Kalamazoo-Beloit Program went to the market to learn more about “waxalee-ing” (bargaining in Wolof). We took four cabs to the market, which is about a 5-7 minute drive from the Baobab Centers, and when we arrived divided into our respective Wolof classes (Kalamazoo 1: Chelsea, Daniel, Thomas, Stephen, and I…Kalen was “absent”; Kalamazoo 2: Sarah, Anna, Nadia, and Alejandra…Amelia was also “absent”; Beloit: Erin, Anne-Marie, Myra, and Val) to discover the market…many of discovering the market for the third or fourth time. I did not purchase anything because the Friday before I purchased 3 meters of white (2000 CFA) and 5 meters of burnt orange (7000 CFA); the white is going to be turned into a top for everyday wear and the burnt orange is for my Tabaski outfit (tentatively December 8).

After our Marche HLM excursion we (Sarah, Chelsea, Erin, Daniel, Thomas, Stephen, and I…Kalen was going to meet us there) headed to get pizza at La Galette. Zator waxalee-ed for our cabs (in his Ray Ban sunglasses and fisherman’s hat, while holding a plaid umbrella to shield himself from the sun). It was quite a sight watching him go through about 10 cabs…just so we could get a price of 1000 CFA…instead of 1500 CFA (approximately a 1 USD difference split between four people…) OH ZATOR!!!!

We got to La Galette, some of us more quickly…my cab was driven to La Gazelle, which fortunately is just a couple of blocks from La Galette, at around 2:30PM. When we walked into La Galette it seemed like we had been picked up from Dakar, Senegal and put back down in New York City. The shiny granite countertops, fresh salads in plastic containers, the businessmen and businesswomen dressed in Western business attire, and the hand dryers in the restrooms were not expected. I got a three-cheese pizza (goat, Roquefort, and gruyere), which was incredible. I also had a bissap juice (juice made from hibiscus flowers…which are in season now, or the middle of November). Other people got vermicelli salads, reine pizzas, and vegetarian pizzas…all of it was delicious, and also not too expensive! After lunch, we went next door to the patisserie portion of La Galette…there I got a chocolate brownie with ganache in a dark chocolate shell (1100 CFA); it was to die for! I am so happy that Zator told us about this place…it’s too bad that he couldn’t have joined us.

We left La Galette with the intention of walking around downtown Dakar for a bit before our Dakar en Transition class at 5PM at CESTI (UCAD’s journalism school), but instead got slightly sidetracked and went to L’Institute Français and had a drink. We went to L’Institute to get ride of a vendor that had befriended me; he was attempting to take me to his shop where there was no tax and all the prices were better. We ended up staying at L’Institute longer than anticipated and after a while we discovered the “Festival du cinema europeen: 11 au 22 novembre 2008- Dakar” that was going on. We looked at the program and decided that Dakar en Transition was not happening and that we were going to go see Entre les murs instead, which just so happened to start at 4:30PM. We were talking our class into the field…all six of us! The film festival is run by the European Union; there are movies from all over Europe that are being shown. The event is complete French…and there was no sign of anything Senegal-like as we entered an inflatable dome with at least ten air-conditioning units, where we would be watching the movie.

“Entre les murs” Laurent Cantet (2008) was the winner of the Cannes 2008 Film Festival’s Plame d’or (the highest honor at the festival in Southern France). The film is about a teacher, Francois, who teaches in the 20th arrondissement at high school for difficult students. He is a French teacher that does not hesitate to push the students to their limits, often times putting his job in jeopardy. If you haven’t seen it…go and rent it!

So, the entire time during the movie we had to come up with a story as to why six people just so happened to not be in class. We got our professor’s cell phone number and texted him. Our text messages were mostly of this sort: “Prof. C’est _____. Je suis desole que je ne suis pas en classe…j’ai mange qqch mal pour le dejeuner et les autres aussi. Je vais parler aux autres pour les notes.” We all received text message back… Prof. Diallo simply said, “OK”. According to the 7 American students that were in class (there are 15 of us) and the 11 West African students (there are 15 of them) the class was not the best it could have been. Our professor wanted us to pick our groups and topics for our final projects, but since half the class was missing that was not possible to do. I guess we will have to “faire le brainstorm” at our next class on Monday (11/17/2008). Sorry Prof. Diallo!

So, Chelsea, Daniel, and I ended our day by heading to Club Atlantique in Mermoz (the same place that the election party was held) and began our first day of elf practice. We are in a play called “A Little Elfin Magic” that will be performed for the children of Americans in Senegal. It should be a lot of fun; it is a 30-35 minute play about these elves that sleep in until September and do not have enough time to make all the toys they need for Christmas. There is an evil aunt elf, a spy elf, and six other elves that try to save Christmas. It comes down to them using elf magic to make all the presents that are needed. Trisha is our director and there are other Americans playing the other roles. We are supposed to have shows on the 13th and 14th of December…we have about three and a half weeks to memorize lines, build a set, etc. This is going to keep me quite occupied until I leave.

Well, today was an amazing day! I can’t wait till my next excursion downtown! Love and peace from Senegal!


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