Wednesday, November 5, 2008

This is MY election story!

NOVEMBER 3, 2008
8:15 AM: wake-up...I am going to get my absentee ballot at the "Service des colis postaux" in downtown dakar...a package has been waiting for me since OCTOBER 6, 2008!!!! too bad I was four hours away in St. Louis and could not get it until today! I feel like absolute crap...I ache and I have a pounding headache..but I am determined to vote!!! MY VOTE MATTERS!!
8:35 AM: leave for Baobab I to tell Zator that I will be missing class to go to the post office and then the US Embassy to drop off my absentee ballot
9:00 AM: Erin and I take a taxi (1,500CFA) into downtown Dakar...I need to pick up my ballot and drop it off and Erin just needs to drop hers off
9:18 AM: arrive at the service des colis postaux...and what an experience it is
9:20-10:00 AM: I am shuffled from window to window, office to office, door to door, I have to talk to the Head Director who thinks I am a Chinese national and questions why I would have an absentee for a US Election, I then have to go through customs to have my package opened to see if it safe....they even open my absentee!!! I finally get sent back to the post office portion and have to pay 2,800CFA to have my package...then wait 15 minutes just to get change and my package that has been re-packaged with tape...WHAT!?! WTF!!! To put the icing on the cake the entire building is under construction and Erin is almost hit with a piece of falling cement!
10:05-10:37 AM: Erin and I begin walking towards the US is a 3km walk from the post office; we decide that it is not worth taking a cab.
10:40 AM: we are on US SOIL!!! we show them our passports, we enter (after walking through metal detectors, having them ask me to smell my hand sanitizer, and having them take away our phones and cameras, etc...)
10:45-11:50 AM: waiting...waiting...waiting... though we are US citizens and sent into a special room so that we can be assisted faster, there are still about 6 people ahead of Erin and I...all we want to do is have our ballots postmarked and sent to the states!!!! I am feeling more and more fever is sky-rocketing and my stomach is uneasy...I am have hot spells and cold spells....
11:55 AM: Erin helps fill-out a write-in ballot for a Senegalese born American citizen...a vote for OBAMA in Kentucky!
12:00 PM: we get a cab back to Baobab III just in time for the second half of the History of Islam
12:05 PM: I leave class too sick to see, listen, or comprehend anything the professor is saying...all my friends say I NEED to go to the doctor ASAP...I am WAY TOO HOT!!!
12:25 PM: I make it home...I pass out in my jeans and t-shirt...under a fleece blanket in 90 degree heat!
12:30-6:00 PM: sleep....sleep...sweating to death...shivering to death....dying....also at some point I decide to call my mother and scare her half to death...
6:00-8:45 PM: Val and Myra take me to BIO 24 to get a malaria test, I buy bananas (first thing I have eaten since breakfast), BIO 24 tells me I do not have malaria (Amelia is already sick, Chelsea and Erin are becoming sick), I take lots of medicine, I go to sleep...I THINK I HAVE THE FLU...YUCK!!! this is the most pain I have every been in! please let me wake up better tomorrow to watch the returns...though I have determined that if I am still sick I will still go and die, while watching...
NOVEMBER 4, 2008
8:02 AM: my host mother peers through my window and asks how I am feeling, she says that I should shower, eat breakfast, then take my medicine…oh suma yaay!
8:15 AM: wake-up (meaning actually get out of bed) for Wolof is ELECTION DAY and I am in Dakar, Senegal
8:30 AM: ate breakfast (bread, café Toubab)
8:45 AM: get ready to head to the Baobab Center for Wolof Class with Zator
9:00 AM: Wolof class is supposed to begin…it does not exactly begin on time
9:07 AM: Wolof class begins (during class we learn how to describe people with adjectives like: tall/short, fat/skinny, pretty/ugly, black/white; and write a dialog that uses these phrases…Stephen and I write a dialogue between a “Stephanie” and Alex who are taking about a married man that only has one wife that “Stephanie” should marry)
11:00 AM: Wolof class ends and Thomas and I decide to buy Senegalese newspapers for posterity…we find headlines like “Presidentielle Americaine: Jour de Verite por Obama et McCain” (le Soleil), “Obama, le jour le plus long” (le Quotidien), and “Coup dur pour le favori a la presidentielle a la veille de l’election: Barack Obama perd sa grand-mere” (L’AS).
11:30 AM: we have a heck-in session with Trisha to discuss the election party at Club Atlantique and our plans for the evening after classes, to hand out the schedule for the remaining time I am in Senegal, to pass out our 40,000CFA stipends, and to as we all like to call it have our “Talking with Trish” session
12:25 PM: session ends, we are all magically 40,000CFA richer and I hurry home, so I can head to Quatre Vents (bookstore) to buy more headlines/newspapers
12:50 PM: I arrive at Quatre Vents Mermoz and buy the “Liberation” a French based newspaper with the headline/cover story being “Peut-il encore perdre? A 24 heures du scrutiny, Barack Obama conserve une nette avance dans les sondages. MAis le dernier jour de campagnie comme le vote peuvent reserver des suprises.” I wanted to find “Le Monde”….unfortunately it was not available because all the European papers were for 11/3/2008.
1:15 PM: arrive back home and start reading the papers I have just purchased, le Quotidien is the best Senegalese paper as far as content goes, but le Soleil has the best picture on the front of its paper (an artists portrayal of both Obama and McCain)
1:40 PM: eat lunch with the family (fish meatballs in a dark red sauce, white rice)…it is interesting now because my host siblings are at school from 8AM-1PM and 3PM-5PM, so I wake up and they are gone and we both come home around the same time to eat and then leave again for afternoon classes
2:05 AM: leave for the Baobab Center, I need to get water
2:20 PM: arrive at Baobab I, fill-up my water bottle then slowly proceed to head over to Baobab II for our Kalamazoo seminar course
3:09 PM: our seminar course starts late…our professor was at the wrong building and we were locked out of the correct building…typical Senegal and its communication! Class consists of a discussion comparing St. Louis and Dakar and a recap on the various assignments that are quickly piling up.
5:03 PM: seminar class is over, we all head to Casino Supermarche to buy ingredients for are “All-American” potluck/meal!
5:20-5:45 PM: shopping for ingredients, Alejandra and I leave the Casino Supermarche in SICAP Baobab for a large Casino called Sahm’s Casino in Medina…we need fresh basil and avocados for our dishes. When we walked in, it was like we were in a French grocery store…it reminded me exactly of the Casinos in France this summer (though the lower end ones).
5:50 PM: cooking is already underway at Baobab III, we are going to be eating macaroni and cheese, nachos, cookies, piccalilli, and bruschetta! Anna is grating cheese, Sarah is cooking pasta, Kalen is preparing the cheese sauce for the macaroni, Erin is chopping tomatoes for the nachos!
5:55 PM: I head home before making the bruschetta to inform my family of my whereabouts and that I will not be home until early morning and I will be eating with my friends at school…my host mom says I should sleep at the club because I should not walk home at dark in Dakar!
6:05-8:45 PM: preparing and eating food…and getting ready for what we all hope will be a historic night
8:45 PM: we all leave Baobab III for Club Atlantique, we attempt to woo our cab with Wolof and tell him that it is Anne-Marie’s birthday at midnight (it really is!), so that he will lower the cab fare from 1,500CFA to 1,000CFA…all cabs are negotiated and bargained in Dakar before you enter
8:55 PM: our cab driver has no idea where the heck Club Atlantique is located…he takes us to Club Olympique and we attempt to explain to him where we need to go. We finally call Trisha and she is able to better explain to him the location.
8:59 PM: Daniel calls me, their cab driver has no idea where Club Atlantique is located
9:10 PM: we arrive at Club Atlantique…somehow…someway. We have our bags checked and a few of us have to get checked by metal detectors…Club Atlantique is owned by the US Embassy
9:45 PM: we are all told we have a free drink (500CFA towards a non-alcoholic one) and we discover that they are serving “red state” and “blue state” drinks…”red states” are gin, vermouth. campari, and soda water… “blue states” are vodka, orange and pineapple juice, and blue curacao…they both are 1,500CFA a piece
10:02 PM: about one hour until the first polls close in parts of Indiana and Kentucky…
10:25 PM: CNN releases footage of Senator Hillary Clinton and former President Bill Clinton voting, exit polls also say that 63% of voters who said iraq was top issue voted for Obama
10:27 PM: CNN releases exit poll that says 62% of voters say the economy is the number one issue in this election
11:04 PM: CNN makes first predictions…Kentucky (8) goes to McCain, Vermont (3) goes to Obama
11:45 PM: I get my first and only drink of the night…a blue state that is…as I anticipate what I want to be a quick call in Ohio as the polls close in about 15 minutes… I should keep on dreaming that Ohio would be called so early!
NOVEMBER 5, 2008
12:04 PM: Obama 77, McCain 34
1:00 AM: first signs of fatigue in our group as six people (Erin, Anne-Marie, Alejandra, Anna, Daniel, and Nadia) take a nap!
1:03 AM: Obama 174, McCain 49…we are all so excited at this point…we feel it happening!
1:35 AM: Virginia… state that hasn’t voted democratic since the sixties is still unpredictable! McCain 50% (1,109,309), Obama 49% (1,093,473)…North Carolina Obama is ahead be 85,069 votes…still no call! OHIO OBAMA 56% AND MCCAIN 43% (WITH ONLY 15% OF THE VOTES COUNTED)
2:34 AM: call home, OHIO HAS JUST GONE TO OBAMA!!! I feel like this is the earliest Ohio has been called in a long time! NO REPUBLICAN PRESIDENT HAS EVER WON THE WHITE HOUSE WITHOUT WINNING
2:36 AM: Trisha Lawrence calls me, missed call because I am on the phone with my mom
2:45 AM: Anderson Cooper attempts to do the math to see if it feasible possible for McCain to get 270 electoral votes…he cannot figure out a way…unless he gives him California, Washington state, or Oregon!!!
2:55 AM: CNN cuts in Dakar, Senegal…WHAT!!! this can’t be happening…wait it can we are in Senegal! it is restored and we resume watching…THANK GOD!!!
3:24 AM: Kalen finds an article in People Magazine “The Veep Next Door”…
3:59 AM: we begin counting down like it is NEW YEAR’S EVE because we know that California, Washington state, and Oregon will put Obama over the magic 270 in less than a minute!!!
4:01 AM: CNN “officially” declares BARACK OBAMA THE PRESIDENT-ELECT!
4:02 AM: call Jackie
4:08 AM: Trisha Lawrence calls, she sounds as if she is practically in tears
4:21 AM: McCain gives his concession and congratulatory speech to Barack Obama and all his supports…I felt like it was from the heart…he had an extremely tough campaign to was not the year for the GOP after George W. Bush, but also his V.P. pick didn’t help him.
4:43 AM: we are all waiting for Barack to speak to his supports..the popular vote shows that he has the largest margin since Johnson! Obama 51% (45,696,497), McCain 48% (42,596,936)
5:02 AM: he speaks!!! he walks out with his family…all in matching outfits (red…why!?) His speech is moving and brings at least 60% of the people at Club Atlantique to tears…yes, me included
5:20 AM: Biden joins him on stage!
5:21 AM: Obama and Biden families join on stage!
5:25 AM: the Club Atlantique people are looking at us like why aren’t you all leaving, this is over, it is almost 6AM! GO TO BED!!!
5:45-6:06 AM: Anna, Amelia, Alejandra, Daniel, and I (the Mermoz gangstas) walk to our respective homes from Club Atlanique, Amelia insists on going to the Elton gas station to buy a drink, then tries to mooch 1,000CFA off me for cigarettes…I say no
6:07 AM: arrive at my house, notice that the lights are on in my host mothers room, proceed to look in the window and see that she is in the middle of praying…I decide to wait until she is done to knock on the door
6:10 AM: bread man drops of bread at the corner boutique, I am standing outside my house like a lost puppy with a book bag and sweatshirt on
6:11 AM: I call my mom to ask her to please save the newspapers from today, so I can read them when I return to the states (I have already collected numerous newspapers covering the election from the Senegalese perspective)
6:18 AM: my host mother lets me in to the house and I let her know that Obama is the President-elect of the United States of America, she explains that she has listened to a little bit of it on the radio
10:04 AM: I wake up…four hours of sleep what!? I run downstairs and out the door to purchase newspapers…today’s headlines read “Obama President Historique!” (le Soleil), “Obama President?” (le Matin), “Presidentielle Americane: Ras-de maree en faveur d’Obama” (Walfadjri), “174 grands electeurs contre 64 pour son rival a 3h GMT: Obama provoque la Revolution americaine” (L’AS), “In Pocket!” (le Pop)!


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