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Getting my leather sandals repaired on the side of route de Ouakam. He gave me a loaner sandal and a stool in the shade while I wait. Sometimes life in Dakar is just beyond fantastic.

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Also getting a free Pulaar lesson while I sit here.

My summer rules for the kiddos 

Summer spots

1. You may watch either one hour of TV a day… or two hours if the show/movie is in French. Eh oui !

2. Spending money can be earned. See the list of jobs and pay rates posted on the fridge. (Follow-up rule: You may buy as many lollipops from the buutik as you want with your money, but may eat only one a day.)

Summer Camp crafts. I am loved by a 4yo boy.

3. I will take you to Summer Camp in the morning and somewhere to play with other kids a couple afternoons a week. When you are at home, create your own fun. Continue reading “My summer rules for the kiddos “

Giving life

This morning as I finished running and came back into our neighborhood, I saw one of the homeless men digging in a large barrel trash can.

He waved. I waved. I recognized him as the mute man we used to see walking in the morning. 

He went back to picking through garbage for a split second, then looked up at my sweat-drenched self again. His face lit up and he reached into the canvas shopping bag on his shoulder and pulled out a glass bottle half-filled with water and motioned for me to drink if I wanted to. 

I raised my hands and clasped them in front of my face, sending back a wordless Senegalese greeting and thanks. 

We all have something to give, something to share. 

10 commandments for life in Senegal

1. You shall have no other name but the Senegalese one given to you. (Don’t have on yet? Just ask. But be prepared for it to stick!)

2. You shall not make or do anything with your left hand.

3. You shall not take good water pressure or steady electricity for granted.

4. Remember the Friday afternoon prayers and don’t plan on getting any business accomplished during that time. #weekendstartsearly

5. Honor your elders. It’s more important in Senegalese culture than I ever imagined.

6. You shall not show leg above the knee.

7. You shall not comment on how cute a baby is lest it attract attention from evil spirits.

8. You shall not steal from your neighbor’s side of the rice bowl.

9. You shall not lie and tell beggars that you don’t have any money. It’s more polite to say, “Baal ma, beneen yoon.” (Forgive me, next time.)

10. You shall not covet your neighbor’s horse cart, water reservoir or generator.

Respecting Ramadan and our fasting friends

sm Khady praying

“Oh, that smells awesome. I’m so hungry!”

I said it without thinking and immediately wished I could have swallowed my words before they made it out of my mouth. Today was the first day of Ramadan, the Islamic holy month of fasting, and less than six hours into it, I had already goofed and said something rather inconsiderate in front of my Muslim friend who was abstaining from eating or drinking from sunrise to sunset for the next 29 or 30 (depending on the moon) days.

The conversation that followed though really helped me to understand some ways that we as non-Muslims can respect Ramadan and our fasting friends. In a country that’s more than 95% Muslim, Ramadan is a big deal and affects nearly every aspect of life for one month a year. Continue reading “Respecting Ramadan and our fasting friends”

Welcoming hot season with open arms…

… and an extra swipe of deodorant. ‘Cause it’s here y’all. And its friends Humid, Muggy and Piercing Sun will be along soon.

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But in case you need a few reasons to get excited about the arrival of Dakar’s brightest season, here you go: Continue reading “Welcoming hot season with open arms…”

How to throw (together) a party in Dakar

Wax-print bunting
Hanging this up instantly upgrades any get-together to a party. Minitecture makes it in many different prints and color themes. Keep a few on hand and you can set the tone of the party easily.

Zena drink mixes
I picked up a few bottles of their ‘sirops‘ at the last Lou Bess? Farmers Market and they immediately became a staple around here. I love the ginger and tamarind syrups (alone or mixed together), but will be trying more of their ready-to-pour flavors soon since there’s another farmers market this Saturday! Just add water and voila! It’s even easier to make than Kool-Aid and tastes way better… with Dakar flair.

Contact info for Simone Café, Melo Patisserie or Pause Douceur.
These lovely ladies and their bakery & cakery skills will have you covered, whether it’s a last-minute coffee party with a few friends or a big she-bang for your whole crew. Simone also offers a catering menu and the most adorable, perfect baby shower goodies.

Ice & bucket
This may be super obvious to those who frequent gas stations regularly, but since I just started driving myself around Dakar and actually going to Elton stations and such, I didn’t know that you can buy ice cubes in big ol’ bags there. Now noted. You know, in case I throw (together) a party. And those big plastic tubs used for laundry work great for chilling drinks that are easy to grab.

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Photo booth
Hit the fëgg jay market for the accessories and Rafet Décor for the frame – made from up-cycled pirogue wood for a Sénégal touch.

Piñatas
Oh Dakar, sometimes you truly amaze me. Yep. You can complete your fiesta with a hand-crafted piñata. You can fill it with candy from the American Food Store, and while you’re there…

Disposable tableware
The American Food Store in Almadies has Solo cups, paper plates, plasticware… and don’t forget the garbage bags!

“Can I wear this?”

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This muslin fabric with embroidery is pretty, right? It could be made into a lovely, lightweight summer dress or top that would be wearable in hot season. That’s what my friend thought too. But she was very perceptive in noticing that although this fabric is easily available in Dakar, it’s usually only seen for tying babies on backs.

Wise woman that she is, my friend asked about the fabric’s appropriate use over on the Gazelle Skirt, a blog and Facebook group on fashionable living in Senegal. The answers came rolling in and were in agreement that the cloths are used for tying on babies but also as slips, nightgowns of a sort and some even have rather, ahem, interesting uses between the sheets. But the question remained: would it be okay to have a tailor fashion this special-use cloth into everyday clothing and then wear it around town?

There the opinions ranged from “Probably shouldn’t” to “Well I guess you coooould…” to “Go for it!”

And that’s when I got tapped on the shoulder to write about the choices we make to dress culturally appropriately or venture (boldly or naively) out of bounds. Continue reading ““Can I wear this?””

School break survival guide for Dakar

Mom-bloggin' it.
Mom-bloggin’ it.
I realized in looking over the last few posts that I’m running the risk of becoming ‘that mom blogger’. Aie. But you know what? I don’t really care because I have some valuable information to share with parents facing the two-week school break (French system that is, don’t panic ISD and DA folks). I have scraped every corner of my mom-tired brain to compile this list of tested activities to keep little hands, feet and selves busy over the coming days… Continue reading “School break survival guide for Dakar”

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