Saturday, January 15, 2011

Tabaski (continued)

By mid-afternoon, lunch was done. As is done every day in our family, the platters were split up by gender and age, and we all sat down to a meal of meat and potatoes covered in oily onion sauce, which we also soaked up with bread. The meal was good, minus the fact that there was so much oil I felt sick afterward…which made me immediately begin devising ways to convince my family that I was full at every other meal for the next 5 or so days so I wouldn’t have to continue eating the meat and oily onion sauce. I wasn’t very successful at that; Tabaski is too important of a holiday and meat is too rare of a commodity that they wouldn’t let me not eat at all, but I survived. :)

Once we all had our fair share of meat and potatoes and oil, it was time to shower and put our fancy clothes on (the men had already done this before eating since they had time between butchering the sheep and when we ate, but since we women were cooking, we didn’t have time). Here are a few photos of my family as well as neighbors that came over that evening (during their tour of the village).

On the second day of our Tabaski celebrations the women in my corner of the village organized a dance party for themselves which was really fun. These women certainly love to dance!

While Seneglese people aren’t known for their photo-taking abilities (or at least villagers aren’t…), I had to get a couple pictures of me wearing my fanciest Senegalese outfit yet, as well as the black dye painted on my hands and fingernails.

A few days into the celebrations I spent part of the day at the marabou’s house with my friend Tomsir and my other talibe friends who work in the garden. As usual, I got special treatment and visited the marabou to give him an update on the garden and for him to pray for me and my work.

On the last evening of the celebrations, I made sure to get photos of anyone in our family or of close family friends that I hadn’t gotten yet, plus more photos of the kids (because they’re just too cute).

This Tabaski holiday wasn’t all eating and dressing up, though. In fact, we (women) had more work this year than other years because the water tower broke the day before Tabaski, so we had to pull water from the well everyday rather than just turning on the spicket. Before anyone pulled any water, the women poured 2 bottles of bleach down the well to (in theory) kill the germs in the water; I didn’t get sick so I’m guessing it must have worked. I was really surprised that the women thought of this. When it came to actually pulling the water, I didn’t mind at first – and I could even say I enjoyed it – because I have thought this whole time I’ve been in Senegal that I’m not getting the fullest Peace Corps/Africa experience by having running water in my compound. However, I soon decided I wanted that water tower fixed asap. After a couple days of pulling water my blisters broke and my hands were raw. We would almost always pull 2 at a time, sometimes 3, to make it easier, but that only applies to it being easier on our arm muscles, not necessarily on our hands; I would have much preferred having sore arms than bleeding hands. I got pretty good at carrying the water on my head; the hardest part of that is not that the big buckets of water are too heavy to carry (they are heavy, but not that heavy), but that they spill too easily – we carry the water in buckets that slant out, which means the water splashes out pretty easily. I got the hang of it eventually…mostly because my mom just made sure my buckets were always not filled completely full. I got frustrated several times when I would be carrying water back to our house (or a neighbor’s house, because my host mom and I pulled water for several neighbors, too) and my host dad or other men would just be sitting around drinking tea or listening to the radio. I know this is a cultural thing, that men don’t pull water for drinking or cooking at home (they can and do pull water for watering in gardens and stuff), but it didn’t make it any easier to see them sitting there when there were 10 and 12 year old girls pulling water while they sat there doing nothing. Luckily a couple days after the Tabaski celebrations were over people went back to work and the water tower was fixed, though of course by then my blisters had calloused over and weren’t painful any more. :)

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