Yesterday was an incredibly long and tiring day. Cecil invited me to a big cultural event at a local village. Joel had a meeting in Dakar all day that left him coming home at 11 pm in the evening. Katie was home with the kids in a day that ended with her breaking down the door to get into our house. We all had quite the adventure, but we all ended the day feeling like the adventures were worth it. I don’t know why, but it seems like the times that are the most difficult and draining are the ones where I learn the most culture and build the strongest relationships. If would be nice if we could get the results without the adventure, but it just doesn’t seem to work that way. Although words can only tell so much, here is my attempt at a small picture of my day.
Morning: We arrived at the village at 10 (the ceremony was supposed to start at 9). Cecil and I walk around to do some visits in the village before attending the ceremony. This is a small village, but they were about to host around 1500 people and supposedly the presidents wife (who never actually showed up) so you can imagine what a big day this was for them. Everyone was hurrying around making preparations. The women cooked, the men set up tents and chairs, trucks of water were dumped on the sand to make it less dusty, the sound system was installed and connected to batteries (since there is no electricity) and the booths of arts and crafts were arranged. Slowly, buses began to show up full of women dressed in their finest. It was incredible to watch it all come together before my eyes.
The Afternoon: Most people were there by 12, but one delegation from Dakar was still missing. So the next hours were filled with waiting and the way to wait in Africa is with drums and dancing – 3 hours of dancing to be precise. Finally they decided to begin eating while still waiting. 300 women come cascading out with bowls of food and 6 people gather around each bowl to eat. It was quite an amazing site.
The Evening: The ceremony that was supposed to start at 9 am finally started at 6 pm. It was filled with more dancing, skits, and speeches. At 8 we finally left to wait on the side of the road until we found a bus heading back into town.
Worth The Wait
There were times in the morning that I wondered if it was worth it to be there. 8 hours of waiting! But then I remembered that it wasn’t about the ceremony. It was about the chance to be there with Cecil through the events that were important to her life and allowing her to share those with me. The day was hot, dusty, loud and long, but if I hadn’t gone I would have missed out on so much!