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Last night was interesting. The bed - or the matress on the reed mat on the concrete floor - that Amanda and I shared faced the open window viewing the massive double-doored gateway of the hotel's compound. The gateway with the motion-sensored floodlight to illuminate the pathway at night. So my sleep was constantly interrupted by the 'click' (pause) 'click' of the light turning on and off, flashing in cycles directly into my sleep deprived eyes. Just the state I want to be in before delivering my practicum presentation.

We eat breakfast and jump into the academia headfirst. At least most of us do. Some people are tired, some people have a smidge of a hangover, and some people are just staring into space. But once the ball starts rolling and the presentations are in motion, at least it seems that most ears are activley at attention.

I'm about third or fourth in line. Just as I'm about to set up the computer and projector with my presentation, the screen goes black. Woot. I get the techincal difficulties. Just extra time to make me more nervous and to build a false subliminal anticipatory build of expectation of  the quality of my project and pitch.

Aidan finally fixes the technical difficulties, and I present. I won't ruin the details of what I said here. Those close friends and family are more than welcome to ask me for a copy of my paper and powerpoint. (I know my mother would be extremely happy to do mass e-mails of it.) Initially, I feel that I didn't do so great. Of course, I'm always over-critical on myself. But at least I'm done and can breathe. The rest of my stay in Africa is all relaxation.

We finish presentations, then break for an extremely delicious lunch. The afternoon is excursion time to the village of Joal Fadiout and the Ile aux Coquillages. Joal is the hometown of the first President of Senegal, Léopold Sédar Senghor.

A well-known bridge now connects the Ile aux Coquillages to the mainland where Joal is located.  Joal and the island are well-known for being highly concentrated with Catholics. They pride themselves on being a very tolerant community, where Muslims and Christians reside peacefully together, unlike in other African nations.

The Ile aux Coquillages is 90% Catholic, 10% Muslim. We cross the bridge lined with sleeping dogs with our tour guide, David. I remember his name was David because he mockingly introduced himself as 'David. David Beckham.'

Shells coverning every inch of ground, they scruched and crunched underneath our feet. We were taken along the beautiful sun-kissed alleyways towards the large Catholic church in the center of the island, passing by street vendors, statues of the saints and the Virgin Mary, and older men in the shade playing somekind of board game. The church itself was just like a Western church. Tile floors and candles you could light after making a donation. The holy water used to make the sign of the cross as you entered was kept in large shells that were set midway in the plaster of the walls.

Next we headed to another bridge that led to a smaller island - the only Christian-Muslim cemetary in Africa. Half the graveyard island was crosses, the other, inconspicous concrete markers. Instead of dirt and green grass, there were pink and white shells. There was even a woman from North Carolina buried there, claiming that she had ancesteral roots to the island.

Returnig to our hotel in Mbour, I continued more of our course evaluation. At dinner, I really enjoyed listening to the conversation; the laugher was awesome. It's so great to just laugh and relax. The tale of how Jill came to be a part of our lives really was pure entertainment. I shared with her Southeast Asia travelling trips. The irony of it is that she, the outsider graduate student, is the person that I can talk to the easiest. Thanks God someone laughs at my humor.

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photo by: Manu32