The horse and cart or the donkey and cart were on the roads with the cars. They weren’t as prevalent as the cars, but we saw them regularly. They were almost always colorfully decorated, some with bells and braids.
Thatching a Roof in Saly, Senegal April 10, 2012
These friendly guys were re-thatching the roof of the bungalow at the hotel we were staying at in Saly, Senegal. Someone told me that Saly is in the part of Africa known as the West African Riveria. The ocean views were beautiful!
Dakar –Impressions of Senegal April 8, 2012
“Wow!” sums up what my husband and I thought of our week in Senegal. “Wow!” is extra appropriate because in Wolof it translates to “good”
I had been warned that the airport could be a very trying experience so I was prepared for the worst. I actually found it no worse than the time we had flown to Cabo, Mexico. Quite a few airports that I have been to (including JFK) have poor signage to start with, throw in a foreign language, and a bunch of people who want to “help” you get your bags, and you do get some chaos. The best advice someone gave me was to remain Zen and politely keep saying no to anyone pushy about “helping”.
I could not get over the fact that the ocean could be seen almost everywhere we drove. I know I’m a landlocked Ohioan, but it was beautiful and very present! Some of the beaches were rocky (like the one to the left) but there were also sandy beaches.
There was a lot of construction in various phases all around. As we were landing, my husband did have a “Oh bleeep! What have we done?” type of moment as it was hard to tell if things were going up, coming down, or both. Once we were on the ground, it was a different story. We found the Senegalese to be extremely friendly and willing to accept my very bad French.
We were picked up by the head of the school and started our visit with a tour of the school and grounds, as well as touring the new construction that is taking place (a four story building that will house the middle school and high school students). We even got to meet some of people who were just getting out of church that takes place (International Christian Fellowship) at the school on Sundays.
I loved the school campus and had the opportunity to spend three days on campus with the outgoing head of curriculum and other administrators from the school. I was even fortunate enough to be present for a half-day professional development day for the school. I’m used to Ohio schools where the classrooms are around the perimeter of a school and hallways are on the inside. ISD was like many other warm weather climate schools where the hallways were on the outside and open-aired with the classrooms behind (like my nieces’ school in California). I was able to feel the ocean breeze the entire time I was on campus, which I just adored.
Despite that fact that there a few worries about the fact that it was the election run-off day, everything was very peaceful and there was a general feeling of pride that the Senegalese had an election, not a coup like Mali. While we were eating dinner on the Atlantic, the restaurant staff had the television on in the background and were so delighted when Macky Sall was first declared the winner and then congratulated it by President Wade, who lost his bid for re-election. They could hardly wait to go and tell everyone in the restaurant the results.
The staff at the s
chool was wonderful and so welcoming and helpful. We were able to visit several of their homes to see the different types of housing provided by ISD. They were all great and even nicer than anything I would have thought to expect. We got to see where we will probably be living and I loved that it was near other staff members and within walking distance of the school.
During our visit we had fun posting things on my Facebook account such as:
Things you’ll never hear in Granville #1-
me “Careful- don’t step on that goat leg?
friend-“Was it just a bone or was there flesh on it?”
Guy-“Hoof, fur, and everything.”
For the most part, it was life as normal (ha, ha) in a warm environment with the sound of French running in the background whenever we weren’t at school. Then there were things like the trampoline park next to the ocean and the mixture of horse-drawn carts on the roads along with the cars, goats wandering freely, little stall-like ‘stores’ alongside the roads, and people peddling items such as cashews, oranges, and other items. It’s going to be an adventure and one I’m very glad I have the opportunity to have.
Part of the getting ready process is deciding how much info to share (or not share) with my children ahead of time about what they might expect in Africa. There is a fine line between preparing them and scaring them. The photo above is from a different expat’s family and some of the food items they packed for their move. The photo below is a traditional Senegalese meal that is eaten with your right hand. Now I expect that our reality will live somewhere in between the two photos.
There will be things that we pack for the move, including food or household items that will just make things easier for everyone (One child could live on instant oatmeal). I also expect that we will have many opportunities to eat traditional Senegalese meals. I’m guessing that silverwear can be used if that is the comfort level for the kids (or us). I don’t feel the need to replicate the exact eating or grocery experience for my family while we are there. That is one of many things I am looking forward to as being able to experience a different culture.
I am taking the opportunity when things come up in regular conversation to make connections for them.
child–“Wow there is a lot of trash along the highways. It must have been under the snow that melted.”
me–“You know not every where in the world has trash pick-up like we do here in Ohio. Some places don’t have trash pick-up at their house.”
child-“I can’t believe that guy just can the red light.”
me–“Even though traffic laws are very important to obey, not everyone always does that, so you always have to be thinking about your safety when you are walking and not take the traffic rules for granted.”
On the other hand, I don’t like it when people word their comments to me in a way that implies that the children and I should be terribly frightened. I’m sure they aren’t thinking about it that way, but it does honk me off a little.
“You must be so trepidatious!” (We aren’t, excited-not nervous. And stop suggesting to my kids that there is anything of which they should be afraid.)
“Your poor mother must be beside herself!” (She’s not, but my mother-in-law is a different story. CNN effect)
“I hope you’ll be able to communicate from over there in some way.” (Yes-they have phone, internet, Facebook, parcel post, etc.)
I have been preparing by reading blogs by people who currently live in Dakar or Senegal. I have been enjoying:
The View From Here (an Ohio missionary couple in rural Senegal) is also one I check frequently.
I know that there isn’t anything that is going to be able to completely prepare all of us for this move, but it IS going to be a positive experience for all and we are going to learn a ton that we would not be able to learn by moving to Indiana or even London.
It’s okay if the idea of moving to West Africa is completely beyond your wild imagination. Everyone has different comfort levels. We aren’t scared. We are excited and know that there are going to be highs and lows along the way, but so would there even if we never set a foot outside of Granville.
Things I’m having fun thinking about part 1 February 26, 2012
Guy and I are getting ready (it seems like nonstop) for the move to Dakar, Senegal in August. Before then, he and I (sans enfants-do you like how I worked some French in? I haven’t had to speak or think anything French since I left Luxembourg December 1992!) are going to Dakar in March so that we can do things like:
- See what the housing might look like
- Determine what household items we need to pack-what does a furnished home come with? Are there overhead lights? Should we bring lamps? Candles? Batteries?
- Figure out how you buy a car (and what kind of car would be best in an environment very different than Ohio. I can’t count on Consumer Reports helping me out this time!)
- What is the route from housing to school
- What is the route from home to grocery
- What items are or aren’t regularly at the store (Are there any grocery store or Target type store items that I should be packing instead of thinking I can just pick up like we always do?)
- What kind of clothing and footwear are kids wearing to school
In addition to those kind of practical things, I also have things like this that I’m thinking about:
Do I really need to keep this ugly winter coat I’ve had for 15 years since there won’t be any “just in case” I have outdoor recess duty when it’s a negative wind chill? (My children refer to it as the marshmallow coat—Goodwill here I come!)
Will be there signs of seasons changing there that I’ll learn to look for like Ohio’s first crocus, hostas corkscrewing out of the earth, and silly little groups of tiny birds arguing over a worm? Or is it always so warm that things like vegetation or birds don’t change year round?)
What grocery items do I count on that I might not be able to recognize without a picture? (I’m thinking I should see if I can find a French grocery store online and look up some staples to see what they look like in their packaging).
What exactly does 1000 pounds of belongings look like. Is that a lot? Just a little?
Should I buy a French press coffee maker so that I don’t have to count on the electricity being on every morning?
What am I going to do with my hair? (Without my awesome hair dresser)
I’m sure you have things you are wondering about or think I should be thinking about. Please feel free to put them in the comment section so I can try to figure it out before August.
If I was Martha Stewart…. February 15, 2012
Well, there’s the fact that I would have spent time in jail, so that’s one reason I’m glad I am not. But I was thinking this morning while I was walking the dogs that prehaps I should take a small lesson from her. I’ve been exposed to enough Martha over the years to know that whether it’s a wedding, a holiday, or just a dinner party or housecleaning, that woman has a checklist for it. Not just any checklist, but a list that basically starts with the big event and works backwards. I’m thinking trying to create one of those might be very helpful to me as we prepare for August and Senegal.
Some things are obvious that I need to put on it such as immunizations, passports for kids, etc. but I am sure that there are many, MANY things that haven’t even crossed my mind to put on the list. I wish there was a book to buy that has a checklist for moving overseas, but I’ve yet to find one.
So I’ve Got Some News… February 11, 2012
I have accepted a new position for next year at the International School of Dakar.
That’s in Senegal.
In West Africa.
(as Director of Curriculum–You probably won’t even pay attention to that part-you’re still back on International School (not Granville) )
or Senegal (Where the heck is that?)
or Africa (Is this a joke? Did someone hack your account?)
We are pretty darn excited!
We’ll be Jaguars (as well as Blue Aces) at the school.
It’s a PreSchool-grade 12 campus that allows the kids and I to all be on one campus. The “American style curriculum’ is ‘enriched to reflect the needs and diversity of its international student body and faculty’ and hopes to ‘inspire students to become lifelong learners and responsible global citizens in a rapidly-changing world.”
Oh, and it’s on four acres overlooking the Atlantic Ocean.
Once I got my daughter over the “CNN Effect” (If you go to Africa, you will be killed-either by disease, famine, wild animal, bomb, or machete), she has been on cloud nine. The learning that all of us have done this past month has been amazing.
There is a good video that the staff has put together.
I plan on sharing more as the rest of this year goes by as we get ready to go in August and will have new school stories to share in the next several years.