Heather in Senegal

Monday, March 12, 2007

This morning six other volunteers and I biked an hour into the bush, walking our bikes through the softest parts of the sandy roads, to reach another volunteer's village. I had a bucket strapped to the back of my bike, and in it I had a frisbee, a nerf football, some rice sacks (picture a potato sack), spoons, and a few balloons filled with water. Jenny had another frisbee and several meter-long strips of rope. On the way to the village we picked up a kilo of kola nuts. Kola nuts are big bitter tasting caffeine filled horrid snacks that are given as a sign of respect.

We started talking about this outing yesterday after the regional meeting. (I love regional meetings because they bring all the other volunteers in the area to my site.) We wanted to do something special to celebrate us all being together, and we tossed around ideas ranging from finding a boat and rowing to the coast, to dressing in sheets and hiding in a field pretending to be spirits, to having a simple picnic, before we decided to hold a field day.

We arrived at the village with the noise and gayity of a circus. After we greeted the village chief and gave the kola nuts, we set off for a nearby field with about forty kids in tow.

The events began with some frisbee tossing. Once we were warmed up, the toubobs paired off. We each tied a leg to our partner and then held a three-legged race. When we finished we untied ourselves, strapped Senegalese kids to each other, and cheered them on as they learned to run in sync and race against one another. We followed this by teaching the children how do potato sack races using local rice sacks. While set after set of kids hopped this race we toubobs gathered rocks. For the next game all participants had to first spin around twenty times while looking up, and then place a spoon in their mouths and a rock on the spoon. The race was down the field about fifty feet and back, but hardly anyone made it that far without either falling over or dropping the rock. We tossed a little girl around like a ball, made a human pyramid, and let the kids peg us with the water balloons. Throughout the games people festively tossed the football up in the air like the tortillas at San Francisco's Bay to Breakers race, so you never knew when suddenly this soft football would come falling onto you.

Games over, sun getting hot, and us not wanting to stay so long that the family feel a need to invite the mob of us to eat their lunch, we quickly packed up and biked home.


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