Friday, December 25, 2009

My birthday – Senegalese style (well…in Senegal at least)

I spent my first birthday ever away from my twin sister this year – big step for a (now) 24-year-old! :) It was a great birthday, though, and, despite my blog title, it was definitely more of an American-style birthday than a Senegalese-style one. I’m not really sure what a Senegalese birthday party would be like – as far as I know most people don’t really celebrate their birthdays here because they don’t know their birthday (this is more often the case for older adults than younger people now) and it’s just not part of their culture to celebrate birthdays.

Anyway, my birthday (Dec. 17) started a few days early – on December 12th actually, when I went to Cora’s village with Teresa. We made Easy Mac (yes, the crappy mac n’ cheese stuff, but so good when you haven’t had anything like it in months) and then no-bake cookies. What a yummy treat!

The no-bake cookies on Cora’s (colorful!) trunk (where she keeps all her treats and food).

My actual birthday started off with a car ride from Tambacounda (a region to the east of my region, Kaolack) to Kaolack. (We had had a agricultural summit in Tamba for all the rural agricultural volunteers the couple days before my birthday.) Since the Peace Corps car that had brought the Peace Corps ag staff down to Tamba was heading back to Dakar the morning of my birthday, we were able to take that car to Kaolack instead of having to take public transportation – PC cars are always TONS better than public transport, because they’re free, they’re air conditioned (which is nice even when it’s not super hot), they’re quiet, they’re much smoother, they’re much faster, and they’re safe (in terms of people stealing my stuff or something) which means I feel comfortable listening to my iPod or reading a book or sleeping or doing whatever in them. When we first got to Kaolack (around 12:30), we stopped at a restaurant and had Senegal’s classic lunch: rice and fish – it was really good, though, because it had lots of vegetables (something that can be kind of rare in the village…). And, before we ate, everyone sang “Happy Birthday” to me – which is obviously a very American thing to do (and probably totally confused the Senegalese people in the restaurant). :)

Then the Peace Corps car took us to the Kaolack regional house. When I walked in the door, several other Volunteers yelled “Happy Birthday!” They had all come up for my birthday – something I totally didn’t expect – and had decorated the house with construction paper streamers (since that’s about the extent to party decorations we can do here). The dining room table was full of classic American party snacks – chips, crackers, candy, and cookie dough! We all hung out and ate snacks and chatted for a while, then I pulled out my computer and did a little work before getting on Skype to talk with my family and lots of friends – it was great! While I was skyping, my friends here ordered pizza and a salad for me at a local restaurant; the pizza wasn’t perfectly American, but it was delicious since I haven’t had pizza in months! And the salad was amazing – first salad in months, too! Then we had some juice and rum – what a treat, too! And later: chocolate cake with frosting and M&M’s and cookies crumbled on top! SO GOOD! :) No candles – but who needs candles with this kind of cake?!?!?

Breakfast the next morning consisted of pumpkin spice coffee (real, French-pressed coffee!!! NOT the crappy instant stuff they all drink here!), cake (who doesn't love cake for breakfast?!?!), plus pizza “reheated” on a frying pan. What a great 24th birthday! :)

1 comment:

  1. Aww this sounded great!!! :) That M&M cake is so festive! :)