I’m Alive and This is What’s Happening!


It has been exactly a month since I was last in Minnesota. That’s crazy! Time has flown by so fast. I was in San Francisco for a week before departing to Senegal. When I was flying to San Francisco, I started to write my second blog entry. It’s too late to post it now on its own, so I included it at the bottom of this blog with a couple of annotations. 

There was a lot of events that had happened before I arrived in Khombole. It’s too much to write about, but when I get back home, come find me and ask about my journey to Senegal. I will talk all about it.

My new name is Aida Ndeye and I’m living in Khombole. I have a family of six, but if you count my cousins, and the other adult that I live with, I have nine. I would count them as my family here because I spend a lot of time with all of them, and they also sleep right across the hall from me. I have a mom and dad, another adult, two older sisters, two younger brothers, and two younger cousins living with me. 

A lot has happened so far; I have learned a lot about my surroundings, others, and myself. There is too much that has happened, and I need to figure out how to put everything into sentences. As I figure out how to put these events into words, I will be writing more blogs. What I can talk about are my goals and food. 

For this year I have a couple of goals. I want to share them because then I will be held accountable.

  1. Journal at least two typed pages a day. 
  2. Learn and retain a new phrase in Wolof every day. 
  3. Exercise at least four times a week. 
  4. Being present and open. 
  5. Learn how to do one Senegalese dance. Does not have to be good! 
  6. Be able to smell fish and not feel like I’m going to throw up. 

Number sixth is basically done because we have Ceebu Jen (Fish and Rice) almost every lunch. So, I am used to smelling fish, but it still kind of makes me lose my appetite.  The fish tasted like chicken, but then if I burped or get hiccups then I could really taste the fish. A little off topic, but people burp here anywhere, when we are eating to when I’m trying to talk to someone. Both females and males do it, which makes me kind of happy. When someone burps, I laugh inside because I get flashbacks of when I accidently burped somewhere and everyone heads turn. Here someone burps and it’s like nothing happened. When my family eats (excluding breakfast), we are all on the ground. Before we eat, I usually roll out a mat which I believe it’s made from woven grass, then I put this small fabric/blanket on top. This blanket is where our communal bowl will sit. I enjoy eating out of the same bowl as everyone else because we face each other, and we eat at the same time. It’s one of the only times when the family is all together.  

At my house, when we eat lunch my family mostly uses spoons, but for dinner my family does not usually use any utensils, which means we use our hands. For one dinner unparticular we eat spaghetti with chicken, sautéed onions, and bread. This is one of my favorite meal to date in Senegal. To eat this dish, I break off a piece of bread and I use my thumb to scoop the noodles into the bread and then shove it right into my mouth. Well, the first time I ate with my hands I had a bunch of noodles and on the way to my mouth I dropped everything right onto the mat. The second time I got the noodles to my mouth, but I forgot to close my mouth because I was so happy that my food did not drop on the ground. So, a second later all the food that was in my mouth was now on my lap. After that my host brother went and got me a fork to use. I think I was better at eating the spaghetti with my hands than the fork. It was like I was a newborn. With this I learned something about myself. I learned that at home I use my left hand when I eat. I didn’t realize until I got here. In Senegal and especially my house I am not allowed to use my left hand because it’s known to be dirty. Stay tuned for why 🙂

Here are two pictures of meals we have had. The one above is one of the two meals that I get in my own bowl. It is millet with water and powdered milk. It reminds me of mac and cheese, but only with ¼ of the cheese. The picture below is a meal we had for lunch when one of my cousins or family friends was over. It was amazing I ate so much, but if you ask my family they will say, “Aida Lekk Tutti,” which means I ate a little bit. I feel like I eat more than anyone else. I don’t fully understand. I constantly have a food baby here. Also, we eat at very weird times. Breakfast if I’m not going to language class is at 10:30h, lunch is at 15h, and dinner is at 21:30h or 22h. 

I have a lot more to say, but the words are jumbled up in my head right now. So, stay tuned for my next blog. In the mean while take a squat…


Aka Shea!