Monday, January 4, 2010

Day 4 – Touba Mosque et dejeuner, Dimanche, le 3 janvier 2010

On Saturday night, I got a text from Emily saying that a group of people were going to go to the Touba Mosque. Not only had I not heard about it, but I also couldn’t find it in my book, so I really had no idea what to expect or if would even be that interesting. But in an effort to be social, get to know the other people better, and to do a little bit of exploring in Senegal, I said sure. I needed a boubou (traditional wear) to go to the mosque, so I borrowed my host mother’s. She is a large woman, and I was basically swimming in the boubou when I put in on.

In the morning, I met up with Emily, Patrice, and Vincent, and we proceeded to the gare routière, which is a place where you can get a sept place.

Before continuing, let me briefly explain both. A sept place, when translated basically means seven places. In these vehicles, there are seats for seven people, although it is very cramped. These vehicles travel between cities for example Saint-Louis and Touba, or Dakar and Saint-Louis. When I first landed, I took a sept place from Dakar to Saint-Louis, and was quite cramped. Second explanation, if you would like to get a sept place, you go to the gare routière, which every city has.

To continue, the trip took us about two and a half hours to get there. We switched to a taxi, after finding a toilet in OiLibya. The taxi took us right up to the mosque, and a generous tour guide looking for hire was there to greet us when we stepped out. I donned my grande boubou, and we began our tour. Little did the others know, but this tour was special for me. Not was it because it was the first one I had taken in Senegal, or that it was at the mosque, but it was the first tour I had taken in French. I didn’t understand most of it, but I understand more than I would have a year ago, which made me very happy. Patrice, Emily, and Vincent were all there to interpret and explain to me of course.

After wandering around the mosque, we went to visit a cemetery. In one place, the bodies were simply buried in the sand, with rugs over the top. I didn’t take a picture of the cemetery, because I wasn’t sure if I would offend anyone or not, so no pictures. After the tour, our tour guide offered us lunch at his house. So, we got into a taxi – 5 people, very cramped – and went to this man’s house. He has a very large family, and he is somehow related to the people who live across the street. The first woman we were introduced to was “le première” the second woman we met was “le troisième” and another woman stuck her head in latter and was “le duxième.” Basically, he had three wives. And probably between 13 – 20 kids. I didn’t count, but there were A LOT. The lunch was delicious, and we ended up going back to the gare routière. When we got there, there was a big hoo-hah, because there was a sept-place with only three seats available going to Saint-Louis. So, they kicked out one person, and put us in. I don’t know why it was such a big deal, we could’ve waited, but apparently that was not an option.

Now, honestly, the 3-hour return is probably more story worthy than the rest of the day combined. The reason is because the car that we got into was a piece of shit, frankly. That vehicle should have been decommissioned decades ago, but alas, it wa the vehicle we were stuck in. First off, when you looked at the driver, the first question is “Can he see?” His eyes looked a little funky, and we were sure that his eyesight was limited. Second, the car was falling apart, and the black exhaust came into the rear of the car every single time he accelerated. And he accelerated every chance he had. There are speed bumps for the purpose of slowing people down, however this man accelerated rapidly after every single speed bump, even if there was visibly another about 50 yards away. And again, everytime he accelerated, the exhaust came into the car. Oh, and I forgot to mention, the windows were stuck. They were open a couple of inches, but there was neither a door handle nor a way to unroll the window. And periodically throughout the trip, the door would open, scaring the man who was sitting there who was equally displeased about the vehicle.

Then, we pulled over. Turns out we had a flat tire. Quite frankly, I didn’t mind because it was very cramped in the last row. The worst part of the trip was when it started to get dark, and our driver kept drifting towards on coming traffic, then dodging out of the way at the last minute. A couple times he almost hit other vehicles, either head on, or a broken down truck on our side of the road. When we started getting close to the city, he almost ran over a biker, almost hit horse drawn carts, other vehicles. We were all on edge.

We safely made it back, and when I got into my house, the power was out. So, I had a weird dinner of this curdled milk/yogurt and malt-o-meal. That’s the best way I can describe. It’s probably the first time that I could barely eat something because I really didn’t like it. I took two lactaid just to be safe. (Side note: In the last couple of months I’ve become REALLY sensitive to lactose. I don’t know if I’m completely intolerant, but somewhere on that scale.)

After eating the dinner, I fell asleep, at 8 PM. And got up at 9 AM this morning. I’m really enjoying it here because I am SO RELAXED. No pressure, no schedule. I just know when I’m supposed to eat, and in the mean time I read, dink around on my computer, go for walks in town, etc. And it’s really nice.

The flat tire, and the worse vehicle in Senegal.

The family we ate lunch with... ALL of them.

The mosque. The marble came from Italy, and wooden doors from trees in Portugal (if I understood the guide correctly.)

1 comment:

  1. Sounds crazy! I'm glad you're relaxing. Out of everyone I know, you definitely deserve it the most! Keep having fun. :)