I have grown beyond my limits this year. Living in Senegal has been both one of my biggest joys and my biggest hardships. When you are navigating a new space, culture and language, you must learn to adapt and change the way you function. In short, you learn to innovate. And I have to say… I’ve become quite the innovator as I learn to use what I have in the moment to make something work. In the last five months, I really believe I’ve come up with at least one billion-dollar-idea. And out of my giving heart, I am going to share my mini innovations for FREE! You’re welcome.
Now my first idea, the one that’s been the most handy to me, is to stack up books in front of the little holes in the wall to keep the mice out! Ok yes, lets take a break for a little story time. I have had mice in my room since week 1, I just had no idea how to ask for a mouse trap. So I tucked my mosquito net in extra tight to keep them out of my bed. One night, I fell fast asleep and left my mosquito net untucked. I had a rude awakening that night– a woke up to a mouse running across my forehead. Yeah, not pleasant. Now mice are definitely not unique to Senegal, but if any of you happen to know the word for “mouse trap” in Wolof, please let me know.
On to the next one… about one month into my stay in Senegal, my nail clippers broke. I was not quite sure where to find a pair and definitely not sure of the name in Wolof, so I bought a pair of scissors instead and used them as some make-shift clippers. This one was actually a life-saver, I would 10/10 recommend it.
In Senegal, people take short showers about 3 times a day since there is quite a bit of dust and heat here. This means I go through soap pretty fast. But one thing I didn’t think of was where I was going to put my soap inbetween showers, there’s nowhere to leave it in the bathroom. Using the cardboard from my contact’s box and some duct tape, I made a nice container for my soap! I no longer have to hold the soap bar in front of a fan until it dries so I can put it down. What a win.
Now in my family, everything I do is a whole family event. All of the kids like to watch everything I do. So when I want to, for example, take a shower or sweep my floor, it cant happen without every kid trying to help me run the water or fetch the broom. When I just drop something on the ground in my room that I want to sweep quickly, instead of getting the broom and risking it turning into a family reunion, I now just use a notebook to sweep and a trash bag to collect. One time, I broke a glass in a hotel room and I was too embarrassed to ask for a broom, this trick came in handy that day.
Meals are a big deal here in Senegal. Lunch and dinner are social events. But one thing I’ve learned is that you only need one utensil; a spoon! Use the bottom of the spoon to slice bread or spread butter, use the top of the spoon to eat and to somehow… combining the spoon with a lot of arm muscle… break up the meat. No need for a spoon, fork, and knife at every meal. One is just fine. Less dishes to clean!
And this last one is probably my favorite. So in Senegal, laundry is a grueling task. Even more so, hand washing towels is pretty much impossible. So I don’t use a towel anymore! After a shower, I just wrap myself in a skirt and airdry for a bit. It kills two birds with one stone: I don’t have to wash towels and airdrying helps immensely with the heat.
Here are some of my newly-acquired tips and tricks, enjoy!