Heather in Senegal

Friday, March 16, 2007

New Year's Eve
This year I got to celebrate two. The first was the traditional December 31. I was in Dakar, the capital of Senegal, and arguably of West Africa. My friends and I went to the center of town, where we found the streets packed with people celebrating by shooting fireworks at one another. Low grade explosives littered the street, making it feel like a game of keep-away as we kicked small flaming pieces away from us. Being in the midst so many people out celebrating and flaming sparkles in the air above and all around us was thrilling.
The second was on January 30. It is an Islamic holiday called Tamaxarit. Starting in the afternoon kids took to the streets in mobs, banging on drums or on tin cans and asking for gifts. The boys dressed up as girls and the girls as boys, and all wore facepaint. In the evening packs of them came to my compound. They sang, drummed, and danced, and we poured rice into their collection jars. Halloween. The traveling groups of drumming kids celebrated late into the night. The next morning everyone dressed in fancy outfits. We shook hands with one another all morning long and exchanged greetings and best wishes.


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