Everything was planned to the last detail but we were warned – expect a change here and there.
We all packed our bags last night thinking that we will head out to Saraya first thing in the morning. Change of plans, there is a strike taking place preventing any fuel to be delivered to any of the local gas stations. This means we are stuck here until further notice. Stuck? Not at all! After the usual morning routine – cold bucket shower, breakfast with the best bread I have tasted in a long time off we were to the local market.
Most of the girls ( and Amish ) had one thing in mind. Mission of the day was to buy fabric, find a tailor and have a dress made. Finding fabric was not difficult, what was difficult was sorting through all the rich and colorful designs and choosing the right one. Mission accomplished. With our new fabric in hand we found a tailor who would make our dresses. They should be ready next Sunday! As some were being measured for their new hand-made dress the rest of us sat outside the shop interacting with a few local men who were sitting just to the right of us. To my surprise they were very eager to talk to us as we struggled to communicate using the few phrases of Pulaar we have learned the day before.
One of the men took a small finger drum that we bought earlier and showed us how to play. His friend who was sitting next to him was making tea – not the typical tea we are used to. This is the traditional very sweet tea which he poured from one glass to another in an attempt to make as much foam as possible. He repeated this process many times. I guess the more foam you make the tastier it is. Although, this was the first time we all met these men it felt like we have sat with them in front of this shop numerous times. It did not feel strange or new. I did not feel like a foreigner that minute. It was an amazing feeling to know that I look so out of place but feel so welcome at the same time.
That’s not all we did today. There was also a trip to the “garage,” a bike ride and a home-made dinner but the one thing that stood out the most today was the warmth of the locals who without even realizing it made me feel extremely comfortable and welcome in West Africa.
With the day almost over I have to say that I am looking forward to tomorrow ( maybe with the exception of the cold bucket shower ). We are starting our day early with hospital rounds at the local hospital in Kedougou.