Sunday, May 30, 2010

Days 27-30 in Africa

What a journey this has been! My heart will always be in two places. I have learned and grown so much. I will miss Senegal--the warmth and kindness so many have shown us. It has become another home to me, and I look forward to a time when I can come back.

These past few days have been as busy as ever, as we've been trying to squeeze in interviews and research while packing up and preparing for our departure.
Aminata Sow Fall has been so kind in helping us. Time and again she has included us in her very busy schedule, and this week arranged an appointment with a wonderful older Senegalese woman who provided us with excellent information on the traditional jewelry and style of Senegal.

We were also fortunate to meet with the U.S. Ambassador again and discuss the project and some technicalities with temp. work visas for goldsmiths who may come out to D.C. and demonstrate traditional jewelry making techniques as part of the exhibition.

We picked up all of the jewelry that Dr. Johnson ordered for the exhibition this week, and one of our bijoutiers very kindly gave me a beautiful gold filigram bracelet as a gift and souvenir from Senegal. I promised Dr. Johnson I would lend it to the collection for the exhibit.

I purchased some incense from Sandaga market to help me remember the smell of Senegal, and bought an adorable little taxi-bus toy car for my new nephew Truman. Now all that remains is finding space for all of our purchases and praying that customs lets us through with it all!

Goodbye Africa! A la prochaine!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Days 24-26 in Africa

Winding down...Monday was spent nursing indigestion (wouldn't really be a true African experience without it), and preparing for the dinner we were hosting chez nous. I read somewhere that an estimated 1 billion people in the world live without clean, sanitary, water--something needs to be done about that says I (and my bowels).

The dinner was wonderful! Both Aminatas came: Aminata Sow, Aminata Sow Fall, Charles and Angelique Becker, and Ibrahima and Mariam Thiaw.

Tuesday was hades-hot. We made more Jewelry purchases for the exhibition, and then cooled off in the roof-top pool of our hotel--a discovery we made this last week of our stay.

Today we met with Papa N'Diay (head of IFAN university) and Syndalie Wade (the president of Senegal's daughter) discuss the exhibition. We met with Marcia Bernicat (American Ambassador) as well to discuss US support of the project.

This week is hurrying by at a time when I desperately want the clock to stop. There's simply so much to do, and far to little time left to accomplish everything!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Days 20-23 in Africa

It's very difficult to face the fact that only one week from now I'll be boarding a plane and leaving this beautiful spot and heading home. How I've changed! I can't imagine life without morning bonjours and ca vas from everyone we greet. Our kind fruit man and veggie vendor, the children playing soccer, and the women balancing laundry in their heads and a baby on their backs--I will miss them terribly.

The weather has been absolutely perfect the past few days. After mass and a celebration of the fete of pentacost at the local Catholic cathedral, we headed out to the beach for a little R n' R. We were provided with lounge chairs and seaside drink and food service. It was a wonderful little break from our usual hustle and bustle.

The usual hustle and bustle:
5 interviews over the past 2.5 days all recorded on 3 different forms of digital media--film, stills, and audio. Equipment carried primarily by yours truly over the dusty pedestrian un-friendly "sidewalks." Completely worth the shoulder ache! The women and bijoutiers we met with were wonderful, and extremely knowledgeable. The info. we gathered will be invaluable to the exhibition.

Hosted dinner for the young people who have helped us and who I've become rather close to after this trip. It's amazing what a couple of women can produce on a stove you have to light each time you use it, and a propane tank literally 6 inches from the oven! It's been wonderful to employ the "always at hand is the thing needed most" momwah adage so often here. It's true too--we really have everything we need and then some in this fabulous residence hotel.

Poured over research material and photos at the National Archives for more support for the catalog Dr. Johnson is producing for the exhibit.

Photo shoot with models we paid at a local boubou couturier's atalier.

Time is whipping by, and Dr. Johnson's worried she won't be able to complete all of the research she's hoping to get done.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Our guests with the American Ambassador

At the Ambassador's Artists Gala