At night, it is cool enough to use a sheet now. I can't believe it. And to think, the heat is on now for most of you in the U.S. I still want to write some updates even though I have just been working on my project for the past two weeks. Here are some fun facts about Senegal that I have failed to mention in the blog thus far.
- My Senegalese name is Sokhna (pronounced Sorna). Everyone calls me Sokhna. I am named after my host mother's mother. A week into my time here, I realized Merrill is just too hard. It doesn't roll off the tongue nicely with a French accent.
- The Senegalese LOVE sugar. The average cup of coffee has 5 sugar cubes in it. Onion sauce has sugar in it. Ataya (the popular tea) is one part tea, one part sugar, three parts water. My family still asks me, "are you sure you want to drink that coffee without sugar".
- Bargaining is part of everyday life. All taxis, all street vendors, and everything at the market is up for negotiation. I have to say I've improved a lot. The other day I bought some sunglasses. The vendor's starting price was 4000 CFA, and I walked away with the shades for 1500 CFA.
- Senegalese men are incredible dancers. It is comical, though, because all dance venues have mirrors and no one hesitates to dance for oneself in the mirror! Or, when a group of friends is sitting together, one friend will be dancing for the rest!
- My host mother returned from her pilgrimage in Mecca early yesterday morning. She brought tons of gifts home for her family and friends, but more importantly, she returned with sacred water from the holy city. As dozens and dozens of people filtered in and out of the house yesterday to welcome her home, she offered everyone a tiny glass of the water. Tomorrow or the next day, there will be a huge party at our house to formally welcome her home. I know it will be a big event because a similar occasion occurred at my neighbor's house last friday. The house was PACKED with people, overflowing even. It is also an all day event. They served lunch and dinner to their guests. On Friday, there were three semi-famous Malian singers belting songs through megaphones at the party. At one point, I was sitting alone and the three women cornered me and sang me a song. I was loving it, until they demanded I pay them. Lucking I had some change to give each of them because it is rude not to pay them. Everyone does, but everyone is also more skilled at ducking out of the situation I found myself it. I learned this as several onlookers laughed.