Schedule and Salutations

Published by Brian on

Things seem to be settling into a fairly normal and predictable pattern here. I wake up at about 7 every morning and take a bucket bath, then I kind of dink around for a little bit until my breakfast is ready. Breakfast is the same thing everyday, two eggs scrambled with tomatoes and onions, one baguette (which I always save and snack on throughout the day), and instant coffee.

Then I go to language class at 8 o’clock, the school we go to for class is about a two-minute walk from my house. Lunch is usually three bananas and whatever bread is left over, sometimes I’ll spring for a bean sandwich or beans and rice, but that is pretty rare. We have language class more or less all day, sometimes with cultural sessions sprinkled in somewhere.

At 5 or 5:30 I head home and listen to music in my room for a half an hour or so. I usually head outside at 6 or so to help with dishes, and sometimes watch them prepare dinner. I’ll try and do whatever homework I have around this time too. Dinner is ready by about 8, and my dad and I will eat dinner together in the living room.

Food here is very carb heavy. We’ll have couscous one night a week or so, rice two nights, what they call macaroni (which is spaghetti) once a week, and then pate blanche (corn flour + water) all the other nights. This is almost always paired with tiny fish with their bones still intact and a very spicy tomato sauce. Sometimes they pair up the carbs with other carbs, such as macaroni with a baguette.

After dinner, which is usually 30-45 minutes, I start getting ready for bed, with the goal of being in bed by 9:30 every night. I’ll take another bucket bath (it’s normal for people here to take 2-3 “showers” a day), and brush my teeth. Most nights I can sleep through only waking up once or twice, but I live kind of close to a mosque so the call to prayer at like 5 or 6 in the morning wakes me up a lot of nights too.

The other thing that needs some explaining is how important greetings and salutations are here. It’s a whole new ballgame from greetings back in America. If you see someone you know, you are expected to greet them, and for god sake you must absolutely greet your elders.

I typically go with bonjour/bonsoir and pair it with çava, the equivalent of good morning/evening, how’s it going? They are pretty aggressive with the bonsoir’s here, I’d say they make the switch from good morning to good evening at about 11am or so.

On top of this, however, there are a lot of other greetings you can throw out depending on the context. I’m always very quick to use bonneassise (literally good sitting) when I notice someone sitting. I also really like the aggressive avez-vousbiendormi (have you slept well) in the morning.

Other options include asking them tu as fait un peu (you have done a little), tues la (you are there), bon travail (good working) if you see someone doing any kind of labor, bon appetit for anyone eating, really you can get away with bon + anything.

What really makes greetings interesting is when people will ask something simple like “çava” (how’s it going), and then after you answer they’ll follow up with “et ton papa” (and your dad), “et ta mere” (and your mom), “et ton travail” (and your work), “et tesamis” (and your friends) and so on and so forth.

So that’s all I’ve got for today, I’m visiting my site over the next two weeks so any sort of update is doubtful over that time.


Cheryl Kulseth · August 8, 2013 at 4:02 pm

Hi Brian; Chris and I are up at the cabin for a few days and totally enjoying reading your blog. What a life changing experience. Read the Nairobi airport just burned down. That must have been big news!! Jeff and Jake are coming up here with Kyle and Kenzie for the week-end, so should be a fun time. I would be happy to pick up some Theilen beef jerky for you when we pass thru Pierz if there is a way to get that to you. Look forward to more posts. Cheryl/Chris

    Brian · August 18, 2013 at 7:05 pm

    Hope everyone had a nice time up at the cabin, my host time had a hard time believing about the Nairobi airport (along with a lot of other world news). Jerky would be fantastic, with a little luck it could get here in good shape. Thanks, Brian.

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