My typical day during homestay has consisted of:
7:30AM Wake up and take a bucket bath (Bucket of water + soap)
Breakfast of French bread and hot chocolate is brought to me in room by my sister (Muslims don't eat from sunrise to sunset during Ramadan, so I keep to myself)
9:00AM Fulukunda class at my LCF (Language & Cultural Facilitator), Samba Kande's, Homestay
12:30PM My Senegalese mother makes us a lunch of white rice and leaf sauce (she hasn't been fasting on account of a recent illness)
4:00PM Either another language session at Samba's house or work in the garden we are setting up near the local school
7:00PM Time for another bucket bath after a long day in the Senegal heat
7:30PM Break fast with French bread, hot chocolate, tea, and juice at sundown with my Senegalese family while we watch TV including Indian Soap Operas dubbed in French, Wolof sitcoms, and American TV shows (like Law & Order) dubbed in French
9:15PM Have dinner by lamplight out of bowls distributed between the men, the boys, and the women respectively - Dinner always consists of rice and palm oil sauce with a few vegetables and fish - it's actually pretty tasty
My in between time is filled with a lot of hanging around with the family, especially my Senegalese father, and playing with my Senegalese siblings and kids from the neighborhood. I have 6 brothers - 2 are about my age or a bit older, 4 are definitely younger than me, and one that is much younger than me. I have two sisters - one is 10 and the other is 5.
It is amazing how patient everyone is. Here is a family I'm thrust into that, for the most part, I can't understand at all (some of them speak French, but they have only used it once or twice) and they continually are trying to teach me things, but their only hope is to use nonverbal communication. The integration I was worried might take some time has come quite easily.
One thing I might not ever get accustomed to is getting stared at and called "Toubab" (european) while walking down the street. Senegalese children treat a foreigner like you might expect an American child would treat a clown walking down the street. They yell out "Toubab" and call all of their friends to come see the "Touabab," and then each and every one of them wants to shake your hand - I have to leave 15 minutes early to get to class on time. On an encouraging note, however, there have been a few children from the area that, in only a week, have learned my Senegalese name (Mutaaru Mbalo) and call me that instead of Toubab.
Today is my second day back at the Thies training center, and tomorrow I head back to my homestay site. I'm not supposed to blog about exactly where I am, so if you are really interested in what city I'm located in, go ahead and e-mail me, and I can tell you real quick. Also, a few tips for contacting me: a normal American stamp won't work for sending letters, USPS flat-rate boxes are great for sending packages, and skype is great for cell phone calls.
I keep having to remind myself that I've only been here a couple of weeks and in my homestay one week, because it feels like months. I spend the next two weeks straight at my homestay site before coming back to the training center for more tech training. I might be able to get to an internet cafe, but this will likely be my last blog for a bit. Miss everyone. Hope you're doing well back in the states.
The view and opinions expressed on this site are my own and do not reflect the goals or intents of the US government, The Senegalese government or The Peace Corps. I alone am responsible for the content of this blog.