Kaolack

On Richard’s birthday, we began the day by hand-washing our clothes, which was pretty tiring and a slight soapy residue was left on some of them, but I’m sure we’ll get used to it soon. Julia and I helped with the cooking, and I don’t think I’ve ever been so hot in my life, as I was in the tiny outdoor kitchen fanning a stove! We then had a Wolof lesson that lasted for two hours and seemed very complicated, as we looked at different tenses and realised that there weren’t many rules, patterns or much logic in the language. After a hard day’s work, I wasn’t feeling up to clubbing with the others, so I just went out for the meal beforehand. We ate at the ‘Salon de The’, which had nothing veggie on the menu, so I opted for some greasy chips and a pain au chocolat (bizarre, I know). The others had some suspicious looking meat and the local bissap juice, which we’ve grown to love in its ice-cream form. Senegalese ice-cream is more like frozen fruit contained in a plastic bag, which you bite a whole in to suck out of. It’s ridiculously cheap and women or young girls come round selling it in coolers. Sellers have also come up to Master P’s house with coconut slices, t-shirts, bras and other items that you would not expect to find outside your front door. We have been learning to make Ataya, a very sweet mint tea. It involves pouring from high up and exchanging the tea between two glasses to create lots of froth. In the mornings, we have a choice of drinking kinkilliba (another type of sweet tea – God knows if I’ve spelt that right) or café Touba (black coffee with pepper, which I tend to steer clear of).

On Saturday night we went clubbing, and after a heads up from the girls, who went on Richard’s birthday, we learnt that Senegalese women dress similarly to those in the UK. Unfortunately, Julia and I didn’t bring any clothes that were shorter than knee length, but I borrowed some shorts from Lottie and had to wear a pair of SJ’s size 5 pumps, as my size 4s that I wear all the time at home no longer fit me. All our feet seem to have swollen loads! The club played lots of African music to begin with, but then played some 90s pop and normal Western club music as well. It’s slightly weird to be out when nobody here really drinks, but fun all the same. When we arrived home from the club around 4am, we could here the children from the Qur’anic school next door already up and reciting the Qur’an!

The next day, Master P took us to a library / cultural centre, which was beautifully designed, it had a large stage for musicians and multicoloured walls and floors. We sat there and got some drinks and then went for a walk around the market, where I noticed they sold Obama boxers, a must have. On two separate occasions, locals have come up to Conor and asked if he’s from Manchester. It seems insane that they’d guess that out of anywhere, but it must be due to their love of football here. We also walked through the meat section of the market, which was pretty repulsive. There were flies everywhere and large chunks of meat suspended, with men asleep on the same surfaces as the meat. I’ve been really lucky with Master P’s family however, after the initial reaction to hearing that I am vegetarian, (laughing in my face) they’ve been really kind and helpful at mealtimes. P gave me a separate plate of pasta to the others, who had liver with theirs’. He also made sure that I got lots of cucumber and peppers and even got some Quorn style food, which tasted like Linda McCartney frankfurters. I didn’t even know that existed out here.

Julia and I leave for Joal on Tuesday, as our host, Amadou, wanted to stay in Dakar for a few nights longer. The other girls are going to Ziguinshor today and seem to be enjoying their time in Dakar, SJ rang Julia to inform her she was drinking Irn Bru and eating a Mars bar, after having pizza and chips for breakfast. We’re pretty jealous! We’ve been going to Omar’s shop everyday to stock up on water and ananas juice, his English is getting pretty good now and he’s so eager to learn that one of the boys lent him our ‘Say it in Wolof’ phrase book, so he can practice. One of the locals picked up my copy of ‘Submarine’ that SJ’s been reading and read the first page and a half with hardly any help, which I was really impressed with. They also love playing Scrabble, but in French mainly. On our way back to the apartment where we’re sleeping, Master P pointed out the most gigantic rat I’ve ever seen, it was so disgusting, just a bit bigger than a guinea-pig! I didn’t realise they existed outside the trenches… Every night Julia and I probably kill about three cockroaches each with our flip-flops.

All the local guys here seem really confused as to why Richard doesn’t have a girlfriend, and why he wouldn’t want to be set up with a Senegalese girl. Most of the boys here have between four and seven girlfriends, which I guess isn’t that shocking when it’s legal to marry up to four women, but it was still pretty funny going for a meal with one of Master P’s girlfriends and then to the club with a different one.

We’re heading off to the market soon, so that the boys can get a shave from one of the barbers and I’m thinking of getting a Senegalese football shirt. Bisous from Kaolack!

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