Saturday, February 24, 2007

DIG update

Sorry for the dirth of updates, everyone. We've all been busy running around, trying to soak up as much of Senegal and Dakar as we can before we leave. I, personally, have spent the meager time in front of the computer trying to post pictures that we've taken recently - all to no avail. We'll just have to wait until our return state side before adding any more pictures, I think.
Half the team returns home tonight (or early tomorrow morning). The rest of us get into Washington on Monday or Tuesday. By random chance, this means that the stragglers get to witness the presidential election tomorrow (on Sunday). Should be interesting. We're thinking that most everything will be closed for election day, so we'll spend our remaining time on the Northern end of the Dakar penninsula, at one beach bar or hotel or another.
Many things have been happening since we've been in Dakar. Most of the things entail convincing one persistent seller or another that we're not interested in their knock off products, or their brother's store (just around the corner), or a phone card. Then again, we do end up buying almost everything that's for sale from someone or another, so one can understand their motivation.
We made it out to the DIG project yesterday. We were able to spend some time with the outpatient women who are developing one of the DIG gardens and we talked to Steve at length about his plans and dreams. It's an interesting project. Lots of pictures and personal experiences will be coming from the other team members in the near future, I imagine. As for me, I was amazed that they have been able to grow anything in the area - the ground is pretty much sand and scrub. They are using peanut shells as the ground soil in the beds. Interesting, too, that the hard part isn't necessarily in the vegetable production, but in getting outpatients to change their diet, and eat vegetables they've never seen before.
Last night was spent eating at a great little ethiopian restaurant, followed by a night of checking out the local music scene. The local music is called Mbalax, and chock full of myriad drums and african rhythms that you'd expect. What wasn't expected is the communal nature of the music - people come up from the crowd and take a turn on the congas, or sign a verse or two of the song, and then go back into the crowd. We were also able to witness some pretty intense dance offs throughout the night. Guys flail and stomp, showing off their skills and making fun of their competitors. It's difficult to describe, and fascinating to watch. Interestingly enough, it's the men who show off on the dance floor -- the women tend to be very understated, sticking to some basic knee bending and hip shacking. However basic it may be, easy it is not.
That's about it for the update. Tourist stuff is on the agenda today - last minute shopping for family and friends, and maybe a short trip out to one of the islands around the city. Pretty soon, we'll be able to update everyone live and in person. We all look forward to it.

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