This week started with a huge ordeal. When I came back from a run in the morning, I noticed that everyone in my family was somber, just sitting and staring in front of them. I asked my host sister what was going on and she started to speak but stopped when Demba, my blind, evil host father started walking toward us. She gently pushed me away and put her finger to her mouth, motioning me to be quiet. The whole morning, the air was tense, and no one was talking. I later found out that Demba had accused his wife, Jeniba, of stealing money. They had argued, and she had left the house to stay with her mother. When a woman leaves a Pulaar household, everything falls apart because the woman of the house does everything. So that day, there was no lunch, and everyone was generally walking on egg shells because Demba would blow up at the smallest thing. After a couple days, Jeniba was, of course, found to have stolen nothing and she returned to the house.

Just to give you an idea of how Demba may have thought his wife stole money from him, I will tell you a little about the way his brain works. He is blind and therefore extremely paranoid all the time. The other day, I walked near him while winding my wind-up flashlight and he yelled at me saying he did not want to be filmed. I told him it was not a camera, it was a flashlight, but he continued to yell that he didn’t want to be filmed until five people came and corroborated my statement. Even then, he did not apologize to me for yelling, or even acknowledge the fact that he made a mistake. This is the kind of guy we’re dealing with. If you click on the link below, you can watch one of the tense moments..

CLICK ME! (Demba Yelling)

After the host family episode, Marisa and I did a project with the Senegalese government organization, Counterpart International, going around to different villages and painting hand-washing murals. It was quite fun because we were driven around in a private car and all the supplies were paid for. Because the project lasted several days, Counterpart put us up in a hotel room near their office. Sounds great, right? Maybe in America it would be great. We got to our hotel room the first night and not surprisingly the sheets were dirty and the towels were even worse. We were expecting that to be the case, however, so we had brought our own sheets with us.

We were unpacking our things, complaining about how disgusting the room was when all of the sudden Marisa screamed. Then I screamed and asked her what was wrong and she said she saw a mouse. We both ran out of the room and got the kid who was in charge. He came up and started moving furniture around and not one but TWO huge mice started running around, crawling over the bed and everywhere. He couldn’t kill them so he came up to us and casually said, “There are just a few mice, it’s not a big deal..” We told him we were not staying there and he seemed dumbfounded. Finally, Marisa explained that it is forbidden in America to sleep with animals in the room and he then seemed to understand. We left and stayed with a PCV in the area. Below are some photos of the murals we did (you can see a couple more if you click on the corresponding link, under ‘Photos’)!

Marisa and I hard at work on mural #1


Me, signing our Senegalese names on #3


#5 - we thought they kept getting better and better!