Thursday, April 13, 2006

I'm like Miss Africa 2006 over here - Edited

Today I woke up with the best of intentions to spend a busy day at the computer, on the internet phone, and in general being a productive freelance journalist. I have a gigantic project due a week from Friday, and needed to get cracking.

Murphy's Law being what it is, I sat down to my computer at 8 am, only for the power to cut out two minutes later. We'd been having such a good run—the last power outage was on Sunday, I think—that I'd not anticipated this possibility.

Well, damn. There's an internet cafe that magically always has power, but I can't really afford to spend an ENTIRE day there. Since i had a phone appointment at 3, I figured I'd go after lunch, and spend the morning doing the other Very Important Project on my to do list.


I hate doing laundry. In DC, I used to wait weeks until the hamper was so densely packed with (smelly running) clothes that it verged on becoming a black hole. And yet the task was fairly painless. My building had a laundry room three floors down with twenty washers and twenty dryers (driers? both look wrong) and within two hours, most of which were spent on my couch watching TV while I waited for the loads to finish, I had dry, fluffy laundry.

Here, it's a little different. As far as I can tell, there are *no* washing machines. There are a couple dry cleaning places I've seen, but really, everybody washes by hand. It's not like they haven't heard of washing machines, but if you ask them, they'll tell you that a machine could never work as well as hand washing.

That may be true, but it turns out that it's also a huge pain in the ass. But the only other option is to pay someone else to do my laundry, and I just can't bring myself to do it. Partly it's the money, but also, I kind of feel weird about asking someone else to scrub my dirty underwear with their bare hands.

Plus, Awa and Suzanne get a huge kick out of watching me scrub away. And between yesterday's cooking and today's laundry, I'm turning into a model African housewife.

African Washerwoman

Note also my braided hair and sarong (called a "pagne" here). Am I the African-est or what?

I confidently told Awa and Suzanne that the power would be back by the time I was done with my laundry. I didn't really expect it would be, since the usual pattern is for it to stay out until at least 4, if not until after dark. But lo and behold, at 1:30, just as I was gearing up to head to the internet cafe, the power was back. Hurrah!

To see a few other pictures (really very few, it takes forever to upload, and I'm lazy), go here.

ETA: I got ambitious, and uploaded some more pictures. Now you can see vistas of Dakar and scenes from my neighborhood and even Anna standing in a pink lake.


Blogger susie said...

Keep these reports coming, Naomi. I can't believe how much I didn't know about Africa. Fascinating...

4:28 PM  
Blogger jeanne said...

Really fascinating. What I am dying to know, because I am so shallow: What kind of laundry detergent do you use? How does it work???

btw, you look AWESOME!

10:29 PM  
Blogger Denise said...

If I were you, I'd do the undergarments myself and send everything else out, but you are much tougher than I. :-)

9:26 AM  
Blogger jeanne said...

Photos are GREAT, thanks for sharing!

10:19 AM  
Blogger Rae said...

I LOVE the pics!! You look so relaxed and comfortable! (Of course the only time we've met was marathon day and who can be relaxed then???)

Share some more pics soon!

5:36 PM  
Blogger Anna said...

Love the hair! And happy passover!

9:20 PM  
Blogger Anna said...

Oh, and great pics!

9:23 PM  
Blogger David said...

The braids are nice. Very native. And what a colorful, dusty and relaxed people country.

5:24 PM  
Blogger Running by.... said...

I discovered your blog today and I'm fascinated! What an interesting life you lead. Look forward to reading more.

8:28 PM  
Blogger Rose Skelton said...

well miss Naomi, Eventually you will get someone to do your laundry because the novelty of bloody knuckles will wear off. But here's something you should know about laundry in Senegal. No one will wash your pants (knickers to those non-Brits), which is quite fair enough, but you can't even throw them away when they are old and holey. Apparently people are afraid that if they get into a rubbish dump, someone will find them and cast spells on you with them. So you either have to cut them up and bury them, or burn them. Good luck!

10:02 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Naomi
I'm in Seattle,are you in America?
Baay Bia.

1:50 AM  

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