A Day In Dindefelo

Vruj Patel - Senegal


January 11, 2014

Hello, my friends. It’s been a long time and I apologize for taking so long to update everybody on what’s been going on, but it’s been a very full three (has it been so long already?) months and there is a dearth of electricity and internet in my hut. Here’s an average day in my life, which I hope will help you become savvy to the basics of Senegalese life in Dindéfelo
– the village that is now my new home.

Depending on the day, I rise with the sun or slightly earlier. If it’s the latter, I will make my way to the top of the nearby mountain to run the trail around the top. When I’m back, breakfast is waiting for me – half a baguette of bread with some instant coffee in powdered or (very) fresh milk.

As I dip the last of my bread into my coffee, the neighborhood kids are arriving and taking their place around the imam of the village – my father – to begin their daily Koranic study. As of now, I’ve just been watching but I’ve promised my very eager father that when I return home I’ll begin my studies and learn how to read the Arabic script in the Koran.

The next few hours used to be filled with harvesting peanuts, but my family’s fields have been completed and so I make tea and chat with my brother or hike to the waterfall. Just recently, I have begun going to the school in an attempt to teach English, but progress is slow. I intend to start working at the local hospital (which is little more than a medical supply/pharmacy room and a few other rooms with beds) after I return. My hope is to convince the local artisans to let me observe or work with them but I haven’t pursued this yet.

Lunch is comfortably after noon and usually consists of rice with peanut/leaf sauce or ground corn with corn and leaf sauce. If it’s Sunday or we have guests, we may have some meat. After this, my father recommences Koranic school and I usually serve him tea while I watch. If I’m feeling tired, I may take a nap or journal or draw. Otherwise, the next few hours are passed at the escal playing soccer or at home playing with my adorable 5 year old nephews.

The setting sun signals to me that I should return home and a couple of hours later, dinner is served – the menu is the same as lunch – and I spend the night afterwords speaking to my family. There is so much yet to learn.

When it comes to living here, I try to stick to my guns. I place a lot of concern into getting integrated and being conscious, hopefully moving toward an ultimate goal, but sometimes I lose myself. We are all going to get to where we need to go.

That said…

I don’t live my life through fragmentation. It is devoid of AK-47s, apples, starvation, savages, cannibalism, nose piercings, internet, forks, BMWs, slaves, tennis, deserts, and, as of December 2013, lions. It is filled with mangoes, machetes, cows, Islam, hope, moonlight, well water, rice, children, neo-colonialism, mosquitoes, mosquito nets, futbol, inexperience, walking, waterfalls. […]

Vruj Patel