Heather in Senegal

Monday, June 19, 2006

I let Salimatou braid my hair a second time. The first time she simply did two french braids. This time, without warning me, she did about ten braids. Compared to some heads this is very few, but it is far more than mine has ever known, and it hurt. The braiding itself was not too bad, but having my hair continually pulled by the braids for the next few days, having the braids, which were thin ropes studded with the thorns of the ends of my hair, hit my neck, and sleeping on the lumps of braids, hurt. Everyone here tells me I am wrong; braids do not hurt. So I can do nothing but agree with them and explain it's not me but my scalp, and because my scalp does not speak Pulaar, it cannot be convinced otherwise. Salimatou was offended when I took out the braids after only two days.

Today I took Jenny to the house of Jenabu Balde. I met Jenabu weeks ago while I was biking hope and greeting people. Because we have the same name she took me to her house to meet her family and give me mangos. She told me she has a women's group that wants help with their garden, so I promised her I would bring Jenny by once Jenny returned from Dakar. (She had her annual dental appointment. After a year of mangos she had no cavities. But then, she only has 3 cavities to begin with, a far cry from my mouth; I lost count at 16. Still, it is a good sign.) I felt lousy about saying I was in Kolda do do ag work but could not help her, and while Iknew someone who could, this person would not appear for a couple weeks. At this point I lack the language to give garden advice, and I am supposed to spend my first year primarily in the garden with Sek. Jenny is going to spend this year doing extension work, so it seemed like a good match. Jenabu's son led us out to the garden, which is a large plot of land speckled with fruit trees and with a pump well. The women Jenny spoke with at the house said that their primary problem is their age. The group is old. Their legs hurt. I don't think Jenny will get much work done with this group, but knowing of their existence will help her other project: data gathering. Jenny is planning to assemble a list of all the women's groups in Kolda, complete with information about their resources, skills, experience, and needs, so that future urban ag volunteers, most immediately, me, will be able to know who to approach, who has a history of working hard, who needs advice, who knows how to do what, and so on. Eventually it would be ideal if we could give the list back to the groups and say, "If you contact the groups on this list you will find all the information and support you could ever want concerning gardening in Kolda."

Senegal seems to want me to have a pet. Yesterday Jenny killed one of her rabbits to make room for the four new babies. She will kill another two very soon, but has let me know I can buy their freedom if I like, or I can adopt one of the babies when it is old enough. Yesterday I saw a cat walking in the sand. Full of hope, I hopped off my bike and tried to lure the cat to me. No dice. The cat ran away. As I began to pedal home, a cluster of women who had watched me be rejected called to me. They said the cat is named Moose, and is usually nice to people. So I hollered "Moose! Aru!" telling him to come. I guess the women don't much talk to their cats, for they burst into laughter every time I called him. He consistantly ignored me, so I tried stalking him with a dramatic tip-toe hopping step, which earned me a whithering look from Moose but cheers from the women. Then, they told me they have a very pregnant cat and want to give me a kitten. I can not give an animal the kind of long term care and safety I would like to give a pet, and I do not want any more responsibility than taking care of myself and my toilet hole, but it would be so nice to have a furry companion.


At 8:38 AM, Blogger alau said...

I was wondering how long it would take before you found a cat :)


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