Next week, I will be staying in Mar Lodj, a rural Catholic Serer village (pop 2000, no electricity, etc.) on an island floating amongst the mangrove swamps of the Sine-Saloum delta. As requested, I will be going to this village alone, and will be hosted by a family in the village. Us students’ stated objective is simply to “observe” all week. I’ll do my best to do so, but know I’ll go crazy just “observing” 24/7. Therefore I’m also setting some personal goals to make sure I get the most out of the week:
- Kill and prepare a chicken for eating. I still feel the need to get closer to my meat, and staying with Catholics instead of Muslims means there is no halal to follow (my family in Dakar can only eat meat slaughtered by male Muslims).
- Try palm wine made from the plentiful palm trees (another chose interdite).
- Go fishing in a pirogue with village fishermen.
- Get my hair braided into a cornrow mohawk.
- Bake bread with the baker / in the mud oven.
- Milk a cow/goat.
- Enjoy some type of horse-powered transportation, whether horse rickshaw or bareback.
- Spend as much time as possible interacting with men, women, and children. Although I will certainly be tempted to spend long stretches of time reflecting in the middle of nature, or reading or writing, I will try to integrate as much as I can. This is my best opportunity to absorb culture since I will be completely separated from my American compatriots.
Update: See how many of these goals I accomplish here!