Dakar Travel Blog› entry 3 of 37 › view all entries
So today, I met the homestay family and moved into the house. Can you say the most stressful experience in my life? The four hours between my initial arrival and the time I went to bed were the longest four hours of my life. At the end of the night, I simply found myself sitting on my bed crying.
There are like 15 or 16 people living in this house. Six of them are crazy loud children under the age of 8. One 4 year old girl speaks French at about my level. (I just can' get all the different African names down so I really don't know who to call what - I should get on that before I am there too long and it gets really embarrasing.) She sat and talked with me for a while and even wanted to braid my hair. The children are cute at first; however, the noise is overwhelming.
Because there are so many in the house, I didn't know who was my host "mom," or who were the maids, or how people are related to each other. There is a couple of moms of the kids and their husbands, a cute and large grandmother, and other guys who I think are more uncles. I met two women who could have been my mom, but I wasn't sure when I first me them. At the end of evening, one of them invited me to come watch television with them. An older woman waled it (this is at around 9 P.M.) and asked me my name, etc. Then she asked me who was my mom here in Senegal? I said I didn't know and guessed that it was the woman who I was watching TV with. She said "No! She's your aunt. I'm your mother!) I freaked out, probably from feeling a whole lot better all of a sudden, and gave her a side hug. I spent time with her for about 15 minutes, watching TV and maybe exchanging a few phrases in French as I was too overwhelmed to converse or think of anything to say. I haven't seen her since.
The families here eat really late. Around 9:30 or 10:00 at night. It's insane how hungry I am by then and how I just don't want to eat right before bed. We eat traditonal-style with a mat on the concrete floor with a large metal bowl of food in the center. We gather around it at eat with spoons or bread or our hands. It's interesting and fun. I eat with one of my aunts, some of the kids, and the maids. I think the men eat by themselves.
I also have a Senegalese name that they call me by - "sornah" - that's how it sounds anyway. I need to get them to write that down, too.
Anyway, the key word is CONFUSION. But, hopefully now that I know how things work, I'll be less nervous and it'll be okay. I hope.