I am thrilled to be walking on the ground instead of bouncing along in the back seat of a jeep.
The children race out to meet us, followed by a few of their mothers and aunties, everyone with their generous welcoming smiles and gestures. Their excitement and surprise is double-fold: Dia has returned from Dakar, and he has brought foreigners!
We are gaily ushered into one of the grander L-shaped concrete building, the guest of honor home, that is to be our place of rest, as our bags are brought in for us. An outdoor staircase runs up the side of the building to the stars and the flat roof on top.
The room inside is large and beautiful with golden tiles, colorful birds and animals mosaics, windows along one wall. The only furniture, a huge king-sized bed & headboard with it's 2 attached nite-stands, is covered in brightly colored spreads, and a small animal fur rug on the browns, yellows, rusts colored tiled floor.
The long, narrow bathroom off this bedroom, is an area for a manual shower with a large bucket of water sitting next to a small sunken drain; followed by a step up to a porcelain-lined hole in the ground with a large bucket of water sitting a few inches above it on a ledge, and the ever-present plastic tea kettle.
A small window high in the wall almost to the ceiling provides little ventilation and even less light.
Outside there is lots of bustle and action going on. Women bring iron double-size bed frames on maybe 2 feet legs into the shadow of the building and then swiftly return with foam padding, sheets, and colorful spreads as they make up these beds outside under the sky.
A baby goat is tied bleating to a smaller tree and other goats amble about peacefully. Dia has told us that all his cows have been moved to another part of the country so they can eat, the drought has been so bad here.
I can see that there are about 4 or 5 of the square or retangular concrete cinder block buildings and probably twice that many traditional grass-roof and sides round homes scattered about.
A thin branch wood fence surrounds the compound that is Dia's. Visible on either side but set many yards away are other compounds.
I see a reluctant fat white goat, with one child pushing her butt, another pulling the rope around her neck, being dragged through the homes to a circle where women are building a fire.
Suddenly I can understand the goat's cries and the baby's bleating: she is being sacrificed for us. I feel deeply honored and horrified at the same time.
I chase Jasi around the firm sand-colored soil, kicking up white dust thin as fog, and the children join in. I grab him, look at the children & point to the glorious full moon that has suddenly appeared high over another large tree in the compound.
"Moon" I say. "Moon" Jasi & the children repeat. "Wer" I say, in Wolof. The girls look at me funny. Then one grabs my hand, points and with such a sparkle in her eye that outshines the moon says "Lewnou" or something like that.
Jasi & I say "Lewnou" and all the kids laugh. I ask my new friend her name and she says something I sadly cannot understand. I point to Jasi & say "Jasi". He points to himself & says "Jasi" and then to me "Grandmother".
We all laugh again. My new friend points to the tree and says (i forget...). I repeat & all the children laugh. I say "tree" and everyone says "tree".
We move away from the goat slaughtering.
The girls drag me to another home. The smiling, chatting women are all sitting on a colorful blanket or rug, making tea, preparing to break fast. My little friend tells me (i forget...grrrr) to sit down in Pular. I repeat it and we all sit. Then she says (i forget) stand, and we all stand.
We are all laughing and exchanging words in english, Pular, and Wolof. The women insist that I take a tiny clear glass that is shaped like an old fashioned lipstick cylinder and pour me tea, holding the kettle at great heights & filling my cup. I try to talk with them in Wolof, but they speak Pular.
The mothers scold the girls but I tell them it's okay. Jasi wants to taste the tea so I let him. The girls grab my hand saying stand - they want to continue playing.
We are pushed and pulled around corners, huts, trees to another gathering of women, where we partake in the same ritual - and I drink more tea.
Then we are taken to yet another home where women and children gather out front and share more tea. Finally, I return to our original landing place, passing the goat in various stages of dissect, and sit among the women in this spot to drink more tea.
Tess is horrified that I am drinking tea. She wants me to stop but I cannot be so rude. Besides the tea is good and our little lunch was a long time ago. Dinner looks far off too, and I am having a tough internal debate over eating goat.