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Work 4 Peace,Hold All Life Sacred,Eliminate Violence! I am on my mobile version of the door-to-door, going town-to-town holding readings/gatherings/discussions of my book "But What Can I Do?" This is my often neglected blog mostly about my travels since 9/11 as I engage in dialogue and actions. It is steaming with my opinions, insights, analyses toward that end of holding all life sacred, dismantling the empire and eliminating violence while creating the society we want ALL to thrive in

Saturday, July 28, 2012

J ray giff

Our first full day in Senegal, and what a full day it is!

I learn "j ray giff" means "thank you" in Wolof, the official language of Senegal (besides french, of course. Interesting how most Senegalese are at least bi-lingual if not tri, etc., lingual).

Our food appears magically on the coffee table in Bah's living room. The kind and quick generosity of the womyn here is mind-boggling. It seems we are provided things before we even know we want them, let alone ask.

So "j ray giff" is something we've all already learned. 

"Non ga deff" means "How are you?"

We go to yet another beach, this one a "local" beach - but we don't stay there. Instead, we catch one of the long, open, colorful boats paddled by several local young men, jammed with people of all hues, sizes, and shapes and head across the ocean to an island.

It is a short ride, one that Jasi doesn't appreciate. He wants a bigger boat that he can stand up in, walk around in, not one where you can reach your hand out and trail the water, I guess.

But he loves the beach when we get to the island - it is warm, so very clear, and lots of children playing and swimming, with gentle lapping waves that don't scare him.

When he falls asleep on the towel under the umbrella that Bah has rented for us, Bouba takes me on a tour around the island. There is a path that winds through the ancient angular housing the conquerors built in the same stone and style of Dakar (or vice versa maybe), and dips down to the ocean at intervals, circling back through market allies and other beaches.

The girls happily accompany us, as does another friend or family member (I didn't understand exactly who he is, except someone else to help us get around) carrying his 2 year old child.

We explore the tide pools on one side of the island, and stare in awe over the huge expanse of beautiful ocean at another point.

All around us are empty mansions that Bouba explains in his limited english and my extremely limited Wolof, were built by the french and portuguese colonizers and are now occupied mostly by the rich tourists that own them, for about a month every year.

They stand empty most of the other time.

Empty while 4 million people crowd the dirt streets and hills of Dakar, seeking shelter under discarded cardboard and tattered tarps, shored up with other re-claimed debris.

But, Bouba points out, some of those people come & occupy the servant quarters each of these mansions have and work for a month, insuring an income they & their families might live on for the rest of the year.

We rush to take the last huge canoe/boat back to the mainland, pile in the jeep, and return once again unscathed and almost adjusted-to-this-crazed-driving to Bah's.

At sunset, out comes the tea with the ritual pot, tiny clear shot-glass size cups, sweet peppermint tea and a couple of dates.

Celebration accompanies the setting sun as people share with each other the breaking of their fasts. Chocolate and french bread quickly follows.

All accompanied by the amplified voice of the inman calling people - men I believe - to the mosque to pray and listen to his sermons.

We end up eating dinner anywhere between 9 and 10pm, as women begin preparing the meal after breaking fast.

We are so very well taken care of - our meals appear three times a day, regardless of the fasting of most, as do mangoes! We eat mangoes with every meal, much to our delight. It is mango season!


My second day here, in Dakar, and I have learned that Senegal is over 90% muslim and that there are 12 million people in the entire country about 3/4ths the land-mass size of Arizona with 2ce the number of people living here.

4 million of the country's population have flocked to Dakar, the capitol, in hopes of getting work, getting food, being able to survive and help their families survive.

There is a drought happening but people refer to it as a preceding harsh dry season and now a dry wet season thus far, although we have plenty of food that just suddenly appears for us upstairs on the top floor in Bah's apartment.

I have a room with an attached bathroom all to myself on the 3rd floor. The bathroom itself has the bare but luxurious essentials: a salmon-colored porcelain tub with a hand-held shower hose; a small sink, and a toilet with two flushing options: one water-saving handle for pee and one handle for more abundant water for poop.

Someone has rushed to provide us with toilet paper but next to the toilet is a pot that looks like a swirled earth toned pottery tea kettle - but turns out to be a plastic replica by some "do-gooder" from an oil-thieving nation, of the pottery kettles formerly locally made but now made in some factory who knows where, to force the people to accept this "modern" appliance.

It is interesting to by-pass toilet paper and instead rinse/wash with this kettle. I like it.

There is a huge king-sized bed with a large mosquito net around it, thank goodness, although these mosquitoes haven't been attacking me yet!

There are several other rooms on my floor, including a kitchen, where there is no evidence but I'm told other members of Bah's family actually do live here - although most of his immediate and long-term family occupies the first floor apartment.

Beautiful cinnamon, dusty rose, and farm-raised-salmon tile color most of the floors, steps, even parts of the outside of the building that Bah had built himself.

The most striking thing about this home - besides it's uneven stairs heights, whimsically crooked rooms, floors that vary by up to 3 or 4" between rooms or alcoves - is the scarcity of STUFF. It's really helpful for not loosing anything - there are no huge abundance of things to loose stuff in.

Yet, even without the things we in the U.S.A. consider 'necessities', most everyone appears content, easy-going, flowing, and strikingly beautiful with the contrasting brilliant color cloth with the deepest, brightest brown skins and black flashing eyes. 

We are in the rainy season - and the middle of Ramadan - which means we have occasional thunder storms, warm rain, and no visible food on the streets during the day.

The children downstairs - two lovely girls that are 5 years old but seem much older - are playing with Jasi. It is amazing to watch them communicate, not knowing each others language. Of course, the girls figure out what Jasi wants & give it to him. He is very happy!