Friday, August 26, 2011

The Day I Almost Lost My Mind

As I have mentioned on here before, sometimes Senegal brings out an angry side of me that turns me into a screaming, stressed out, crazy person. And, luckily, it does this to most other volunteers too, so at least I'm not alone in my craziness. Well, let me tell you about my day yesterday- a day which will live in infamy forever.

We've been biking around to each others' villages the past few days working on projects together. Yesterday morning we were in village. We woke up bright and early with the intention of biking from my village to our regional house in Linguere, roughly 45k on bush paths. Three of us biked and two took a bush taxi because one of my friends is really sick and needed to get out of the village.

So, my morning began with a long bike ride. I had never biked from my village to Linguere before because the sand is too hard to bike in during the hot, dry season. With the small amount of rain that we've had, we thought that it would packed down enough to bike on now. And we made it... but it was a rough ride. So my morning started out with a looong, rough ride to the regional house.

We pulled up to the house, tired from our ride and anxious to see how our sick friend was doing... only to find that one of the compounds across from our house was BLASTING screaming, wailing music/chanting/yells at an insanely high volume. This is not uncommon here. People really get a kick out of blasting music and prayers, and we're all very used to the mosques going off five times a day for prayer times. But this wasn't the usual music.

We got into the house around noon and heard that the music had already been blasting continuously for over an hour. No big deal, we figured it would end eventually. Oh how wrong we were.

*Side note: My friend Justin has a much better, more detailed account of all of this on his blog, so if you feel so inclined, the link to his blog is on the right side of this page under "Justin," it's very entertaining. And I also semi-copied his blog entry. Thanks, Justin!

So here's the timeline...

12pm: Pulled up exhausted from our ride. Music/screaming blasting.

1pm: Our first video recording of the noise. Enjoy:

2pm: Attempt to sound-proof the house with foam mats and blankets. Somewhere around this time we moved our sick friend out of here to our friends' house. They're American missionaries and unbelievably generous and kind to us. So at least our sicky was able to escape the noise for a little.

5pm: Starting to lose it. Going insane. Here's my friend Ann Marie trying to explain what's going on. Notice you can't hear anything she says.

6pm: Somewhere around this time I call my mom to let her hear this insanity. She says it sounds like I'm at a concert. It's really that loud.

7pm: Enough is enough. We go over to the people blasting the music and politely ask them if it's possible to turn it down a little. Not turn it off, just turn it down. Request denied. We ask when they're going to turn down the music. Answer: 6am is Allah wills it. OH MY GOD!

8pm: Another video documenting our plight. We are actually losing our minds.

9pm: At this point I'm no longer leaving the house because I'm afraid my anger will get the better of me. Some of the more cool-minded volunteers head over to the local police station to try to get real help. The police go ask them to turn their music down. They don't. We think they might have paid the police off. Who knows. Basically nothing we can do at this point.

10pm: HALLELUJAH! THE POWER GOES OFF! Let the celebration begin! One of the perks of being in a country where power outages happen on a regular basis.

*Educational moment: "Koran" is the Wolof word for electricity.

11pm- Guess who has a generator? The people across the street. The music begins again at full force.

Around 5am- the music stops. Really? Really? 5am?

Yeah so that's my life right now. The one place I can go to get some work done- the place that has internet, a printer, actual resources... and I have to listen to this all day. Sorry for the complaining... but venting on here is a great release. It prevents Angry Fae from emerging and freaking out at the general Senegalese public. So thanks for listening, blog readers.

The silver lining to this situation was that I was able to stop by the post office in Linguere and pick up some AMAZING packages! A huuuuuge thank you to my wonderful, wonderful, wonderful family and friends (my fabulous Aunt Anne Marie, the great Edwards Family, my dear neighbors the Affertons, and my beloved AU partner in crime Jessica!) who sent me some love. At least during this crazy noise I was able to munch on delicious American goodies, and I got some great maps that I can use to make murals in my village. Again- a huge thank you, everyone! I know it's not easy sending stuff here, and I really appreciate it!!

So now I'm trying to get work done here while it's "quiet," but all I want to do is pass out. I promise that I'll do a post on Ramadan next time. Good luck with Irene, everyone! I can't believe all of that going on in America right now. I'm thinking good thoughts for all of you and hope it's not going to be too bad!

Love you all. Stay safe. And be courteous to your neighbors and don't blast music for an entire day.

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