RebeccaT's Travel Journals


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Living Routes Senegal Fall 2009

Living Routes study abroad program in Senegal, Fall 2009 (September-December 2009)

Youssou NDour Live in Dakar! (And Other News...)

Senegal Dakar, Senegal  |  Dec 06, 2009
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 If you saw Youssou N'Dour anywhere else, I'm sure it would still be good, but you wouldn't get the same experience as seeing him in Senegal. 

Last Sunday (November 29), Gabe, Ruthanne, Jim, Sam(antha), and I went to see Youssou N'Dour perform live at his night club in Dakar, Thiossane.  The timing was unfortunate, because he doesn't usually start playing until around 2am, and we had class/independent work time at school the next day.  But it was our last chance to see him before we leave, so we figured it would be worth it.  And it was pretty cool.

We arrived at Thiossane around 1:00 or 1:30am.  It cost 5,000 CFA (about $12) for regular admission, or 15,000 CFA to get into the VIP section.  It was big, and there were a lot of people there.  To my surprise, we only saw a few other toubabs.  Most of the audience was Senegalese, and most people were dressed in fancy boubous.  Also, most people were not drinking, or if they were they were drinking Coca Cola.  (Senegal is about 95% Muslim, and a lot of Senegalese don't drink alcohol.) 

Nothing much happened for a while.  There was no opening band, and even recorded music was only playing on-and-off.  But finally, sometime around 2:00am, the show started.  The music was good.  A few times they had people come up on stage and dance, which was very impressive.  And it was also just the whole experience that was cool.  Everyone around us was dancing mbalax and singing along to the music.  If you saw Youssou N'Dour anywhere else, I'm sure it would still be good, but you wouldn't get the same experience as seeing him in Senegal.

And, in true Senegalese fashion, the power went out twice during the show.  The first time it stayed out for probably 15 or 20 minutes.  Since the sound and lighting systems didn't work without power, the music stopped, except for some occasional drumming.  It also got quite hot in the crowded club with no air conditioning.  But eventually the power came back on, and the show continued.

The second time the power went out was around 4:15am, and at that point everyone left.  We got home around 4:30am, and I got about three hours of sleep.

Unfortunately, I got sick the next evening.  I had a fever and sore throat and generally felt pretty miserable.  But I stayed home on Tuesday (it was an independent work day, and I didn't have much left to do anyway), and after that I felt a lot better.  I still have a bit of a runny nose and sore throat, but nothing too serious.

We did our final presentations of our projects on Wednesday morning.  Philomene and I had to do our presentation without Youssouf, since he was late returning from spending Tabaski in Tambacounda with his family.  But it went well.  After that we started to have exam review sessions, and exams begin on Monday.  I will have two exams, Sustainable Development and Wolof.  I won't be taking the French exam because I can only get credit for one language course.  I'm not all that worried about the exams, but I don't really know quite what to expect.  In any case, it will all be over with soon...

On Wednesday afternoon, I went to the art museum in Dakar with Gabe, Ruth, and Jim.  It's a pretty small museum with a lot of African masks, pottery, etc.  There are also a lot of traditional musical instruments, which I unfortunately didn't have much time to look at before the museum closed.  While we were in Dakar, we also stopped at Nice Cream, an ice cream shop with an amazing array of flavors.  I had a hard time choosing.

Speaking of ice cream, I'm very disappointed that it won't be creemee season when I get back to the U.S.  (Or "soft serve," as all those lame people who aren't from Vermont call it.)  I would really love a maple creemee...

Thursday was Akou's birthday, so we had a little party for her at school after class.  We got a cake and some soda.  There was also music and dancing.  It was fun, and Akou seemed very happy (although also sad because the program is almost over and we don't have much time left together as a group).

On Saturday, Ruthanne and I went to Marché Ashalam in Dakar, a big market with a lot of fabric for sale as well as some clothes, shoes, jewelry, etc.  We both bought some fabric which we are hoping to bring to a tailor soon.  I plan to get a dress and a skirt made.

I haven't done very much today (Sunday).  Right now I am at MyShop to use the internet.  It has been difficult to find reliable internet lately.  The internet at the school has been quite flakey the past few days, and the power has been going out almost every morning.  And even here at MyShop the internet is sometimes very slow (like right now) or non-existant.  But hopefully I will be able to get this post up...

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