Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Running in M'bour

Greetings are extremely important in Senegalese culture, and they can go on for a long time which makes getting anywhere on time a challenge.  Every person I see on my walk to school, I start off with "Assalam Malekum", and they respond with "Malekum Salam" which is the standard Wolof greeting.  Then the person usually continues with further questioning as I try to keep walking to class.  I also get children yelling "Toubab" at me constantly, which means white person.  I'm slowly getting the children I see regularly to say "Aminata" instead of "Toubab", but it's going to take a while.  They don't say Toubab as an insult.  They say it excitedly and usually try to shake my hand.  It's cute at first, but as the day goes on and it gets hotter outside, it's easy to get irritable and annoyed with all the "Toubab" screams.

The roads in my homestay town are all thick, yellow sand, and there are goats, sheep, donkeys, and horses that wander the streets.  I went running last week in the town, and it was a really fun experience.  It's very unusual for a woman to run here, since most women are too busy with daily chores to fit anything else in, and me being a white woman made it even more bizarre for the community.  With the sand adding resistance training, I ran through the roads shouting out greetings to everyone I passed.  Since it's so hot outside, many people sit in chairs outside their compound on the road, so I had a huge cheering section throughout the entire run.  People got really excited and yelled out random things, probably thinking I'm just a crazy toubab.  One old lady in a traditional Senegalese outfit waited for me to do a turn around and pass her house again and jokingly ran next to me for a few houses.  A pack of boys raced me for a while, and they were fast!  It was an extremely entertaining run, and I'm excited to go again once I get back to my community tomorrow.  After the heat, sand resistance, and the energy of yelling out constant greetings throughout my run, my cold bucket bath felt incredible!

We've been busy at the training center the past couple days, with technical training lectures filling up most of our time.  Tomorrow I return to my homestay for 2 weeks straight (then i'm back at the center for a few days again), which means I wont have internet for a while.  It's been nice to see the other trainees the past couple days and to eat some good meals here.  I hope the next couple weeks with the Jabi's goes smoothly.  There may be a newborn on the compound soon!


  1. Thats exciting, see if they will let you in the room while its being born, it would be a cool experience! As for the kids I had the same thing in Tanzania, the kids would run behind the trucks we were riding in and yell out Mzungu (which is white person in swahili). Its super cute. Did you bring a camera/are you getting to take any picture while you are there?

  2. This is Gabi again on Mom's account...

    Dear Crazy Toubab,

    You are crazy for running in that kind of heat! It sounds like a lot of fun with the kids and the animated people all around you :) You're making these cold bucket baths sound pretty incredible, I wish I could try one that wasn't in 60 degree weather! Can't wait to read what's happening next in Aminata Jabi's hut. It's like another TV show to watch :) That's So Aminata! or Everybody Loves Aminata. Your name is so much fun to say!

  3. Toubab Aminata!---Sorry I haven't posted yet; nobody gave me your blog address until I asked how you were doing. Anja and I are now up to date, very excited for you and your adventure, and Seneglah is now a 'bookmark' on my Mac and I'll be keeping constant tabs on you. Have fun and do remember to be careful. xox/Kevin