Heather in Senegal

Monday, June 19, 2006

June 8, Thursday
I have a hard time remembering to take my larium on Wednesdays. I really really do not want to get malaria, but ever since I got to Kolda I have been thinking of larium on Tuesdays, forgetting on Wednesdays, and dosing on Thursdays or Fridays. So, a small favor, please. If you find yourself calling or e-mailing me on a Wednesday, please remind me to take my pill. It is often an unpleasant little pill. I do not get the vivid dreams some people experience, but the pill sits in my chest dissolving very slowly, inspiring burps and the occasional shadow of nausea. But I’ve no doubt it’s worth it.
Today my host mom orchestrated the water-proofing of my hut. She began while I was at the garden. I came home to the sight of her dressed in an outfit usually reserved for trips into town, hollering like a construction-site-foreman at the troop of neighborhood teenagers tying sheets of plastic to my roof (see photo). They bounced around on my straw and bamboo for a few hours, during which the falling straw, bamboo, and cement (from where the ceiling rests on my walls), kept me outside, watching the boys and calling up my thanks. They would not let me help.
When the job was done, I had the task of cleaning my hut. Brooms here are so many pieces of long hard straw tied together in a pack. There is no broom handle. You are to bend over so that your hand is nearly on the floor, and sweep with the side of the broom, using the length of the straw rather than just the tips. This is hard on the back, and when I realized the family had an american broom I grabbed it. But what do I know. The american broom moved the cement chunks and most of the straw, but it did nothing but trace lines in the dust that had fallen. My family laughed when I returned the handled broom and bent over to sweep like a Senegalese woman.
In moving my suitcases and trunks I think I killed a lizard. I regret that I did not think to photograph my victim. Immediately after I slid my trunk from my bedroom to my backroom I saw the lizard on the floor in the doorway. Maybe it crawled into my room dying. I’ll never know. It wagged its tail slowly, then more slowly, and then it stopped, and I gave off a most foul eulogy. Why couldn’t it have used those last bits of energy for running outside rather than waving its tail in the wind? Later, when my Pulaar is up to snuff, I will inquire after the black magic meanings behind dead and dying lizards in doorways. I know eggs in that spot are unlucky. I wanted to walk away from it and let one of my mice, or maybe a team of ants, carry it away, but I was too worried that my guests would fail me, I would forget about the lizard, and while trotting off to floss I’d squish the lizard, making it so much more unpleasant to deal with than it already was. I wanted someone else to deal with the corpse, but after the way my family has been mimicking my diarrhea and my dancing, I thought it best to not let them know I have a weak spot for dead lizards.
The first few times I tried pushing it onto my slab of cardboard I had to stop as soon as I felt its body’s weight, because I am much more squeemish than I ever realized. I think there was red goo coming out of its right eye and maybe its chin, but as soon as I got a glimpse of that I resolved to look only at the torso. Eventually I got the lizard outside and into the garbage can. Yesterday I had a red stain on my finger from a fruit drink mix I was using in my water to hide the taste of the rehydration salts. My sister spotted it as soon as I stepped out of my hut, and she took me to task for not inviting her to have a drink. Yet no one said a peep about their toubob carting around a dead lizard. I sang a little as I dropped it in the garbage can, so as not to hear its body make a thump. I really like the lizards here. They are to Senegal like squirrels are to the USA. Often they are yellow and blue. If I had to kill something, I wish it had been a cockroach.


At 10:16 AM, Blogger Mom said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At 2:55 PM, Blogger Mom said...

Dearest Heather,

You can be sure that I'll call, e-mail, and text message every Wednesday to remind you to take your malaria drug.

Please keep yourself safe, healthy, and happy.

All my love,

Mom (:-)

At 6:01 AM, Blogger ji said...

hi heather
i won,t tell tsama and jet about the kitten they might get jealous


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