Friday, December 21, 2007

Coming Together…

Back in Dakar and can’t stop wearing my hoodie. The cold weather is really starting to set in and the main advantage is less mosquitoes. I’ve been living at “Liberte 6”, the Peace Corps transit house in Dakar for the past few weeks while working on the film and it has been a wild ride. Every week I get to see a new group of volunteers pass through; some coming back from the States, some about to leave for vacations, a few waiting around to pick up friends or family members at the airport, and I even got to be there when all the Dakar region volunteers had a house meeting slash bar-b-que slash sexy party. I’ve hung out at the Peace Corps country director’s house, spent time with friend’s parental units, been out for countless happy hour excursions, and got to see the national botanical gardens. I interviewed Penda Mbao at her house, one of the most famous women in Senegal, and have spent days in the editing room trying to learn new software and struggling with the French language.
I also had the opportunity to host my own friends for two days in Dakar and while it was stressful having to be so protective and informative, it was also a great time. Olof and Marten, two brothers from Sweden I met in India while backpacking, sent me an email a month ago telling me about their family’s plan to go to The Gambia for a two week vacation. I of course told them they should come up to Dakar and get a glimpse of Senegal while they were here and after a few more emails and three international phone calls, they were getting out of a cab at the hotel we had planned to meet at. The whole family was there; mom, dad, younger brother, younger sister, and Olof and Marten. I took them out to Goree Island (the famous colonial slave market), to a bunch of cool restaurants, and the kids even got a chance to hang out at Liberte 6 in all its broke down glory. We walked through the markets, bought masks, drank local beers and had an adventure trying to get money from an ATM that would take Visa. All in all it turned out great. They had a blast and we made tentative plans for me to come to Sweden and hang out soon.
This past week has been equally as crazy since its Tabaski, the annual Muslim holiday commemorating the story of Abraham and his son. Tomorrow actually starts the holiday but for the last few days, Dakar has become a giant petting zoo with thousands of rams lining the streets. There are surprisingly a lot of Christmas decorations up in shops and along the main streets but my guess is they are for the holiday season as opposed to just being for Christmas. But the crazy part is how many people are in Dakar, in the markets - so much traffic, so many things to buy, so little money, so little time.
As for the movie, yesterday was the first day that the film started to really come together. We took 3 hours of interviews with Awa Traore and turned it into about 19 minutes of awesome sound bites. Today I’ve been playing with the intro sequence and it is starting to look more and more like a film worth watching. I’m going to be working on the film for the next few days and then I’m heading down to Kedougou to do our final interview with a Senegalese woman who does rural outreach education on health and hygiene issues. Then its back up to Dakar until it gets duplicated and distributed.
Hope the holiday season is treating you all well and I look forward to hearing from you all soon.