Heather in Senegal

Monday, May 22, 2006

May 18
My family’s well is a long round hole topped with four walls of hip-height cement starting at the ground level. A rope is tied to a low branch of the mango tree above the well. At the other end of the rope is a thick rubber bag. When I want water I drop the bag into the well and watch the long rope follow. Then I pull the rope a few times, and on each fall the bag goes deeper into the water. When I think the bag has no floating left to it, I tug it back up. The first time I did this I was pretty surprised by how heavy the bag becomes. After just a few tries it’s become if not easy, than at least a fun chore. Every time I’ve gone to draw water I have walked smack into a branch. I hope I learn to duck.
I’ve filled my bucket with water about four times. Most of this has been for drinking, but some for showering and washing my toilet. My toilet is the standard squatter, described earlier. It is my hut’s only connection to plumbing, so it shall be my sink, shower, and toilet. If my first priority is to keep hydrated, my second it to keep this douche clean. My first shower was fun. My prior bucket baths have been in a shower room where all the floor tilted towards the drain. Today I tried standing on my toilet, but I kept slipping, so I got my laundry bucket and stood in that as I scooped water onto me. I created a puddle and splashed the walls a good deal.
My hut: It is a palace. It has a big bedroom and living room, a small front storage space, and a back-room / bathroom. The round ceiling is made of bambo and straw and has concentric circles that I often stare into. My hut stays cool for most of the day. The walls are slightly lumpy cement, and they go about seven feet high before giving way to open space. I climbed up onto and shimmied across the tops of my walls today to tie strings for hanging my mosquito net.
Mangos. Delicious luscious juicy beautiful plentiful mangos. I lost count of how many I have eaten today. Most trees here have mangos, and everyone is generous with their mangos. Sitting with a bunch of Pulaar speakers on a mat in the sand with kids playing nearbyand tall trees heavy with mangos as far as the eye can see, hearing the crazy beats of Senegalese music is glorious.


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