Saturday, August 04, 2007


"Chim!" is just one of the many Wolof exclamations I have picked up and now use probably much more frequently than I should. In fact I was using this other one, pronounced kind of like you're clearing your throat of phlegm (khay!), so much that my host-family had a mini-intervention, telling me I was using it too much. The loose translation is "What the hell?!" To which the response - if those around you think you are overreacting is "Jamm" - peace. If you have been in my presence lately, chances are you heard some of these things. Anyway, I digress; the reason for the title of this blog is that it has been well over a month since I posted anything. - Chim!

It has started raining, a lot, in Kaolack. The other day I was in town, at a friends shop as the downpour started. The street soon turned into a rushing river of sorts and everyone did their best to find shelter. The folks in the shops near my friend's soon saw and took their opportunity to get rid of the trash that had accumulated in their establishments; sending it right on down the street-river and eventually into the actual river that runs through my town. Needless to say I was appalled and didn't bother trying to hold my tongue but this didn't matter in the least.

Among the quirky things I've noticed when it rains; many people here are really afraid of getting their heads wet - they could be walking through a torrent, no umbrella - nothing to protect their clothes or faces from the rain, but they'll have a plastic bag tied neatly around the top of the head to keep it dry. Most people seem to think that if the rain gets your head wet - you will get sick, not exactly true but probably doesn't hurt for them to think this.

Also, goats hate rain. As soon as it even starts to sprinkle you will see goats in a full sprint, searching for the cover of a tree or un-inhabited building. I know its mean but I find a sort of joy in chasing them out of their shelter and back into the rain, it usually doesn't work for long though - their clever devils.

What's not so quirky or funny, at least not to me at the time was the aftermath of the storm in the market. If you haven't read about it before - Kaolack is a filthy, poo-covered hole with trash piled high that volunteers lovingly call "the cesspool on the Saloum." So when it rains all this filth takes on liquid form and floods large portions of the city. The market is a particularly filthy and particularly flood-prone place and that's exactly where I found myself. At first I was trying my best not to step into water deeper than the soles of my shoes, when that proved too difficult I had no choice but to bite the bullet and step on in, hoping the parasites didn't think my feet looked like a great place to party. No signs of Creeping Eruption yet and I will be getting tested for Schistosomiasis before I leave here, but I'll keep you updated on my parasite prognosis.