Saturday, October 18, 2008

The Scariest Night of My Life!!!!!

I know I said I would tell you about work stuff soon, but that’s just really boring compared to all the other stuff that goes in the crazy world that is now my life. So instead of talking about going through the process of trying to move the Girls’ Mentoring Center, I will instead tell you about the scariest thing that has ever happened to me.

In the U.S., you usually have to have an invitation to go to a wedding. Not so here in the RIM. If you know of a wedding going on, you just show up. On Wednesday, Bébé and her family were all going to the wedding of a very close friend of the family. Naturally, as I am seen as a family member now, I was expected to go with. Bébé and her sisters had tons of fun dressing me up like their little Barbie doll in all their Pulaar clothes (I’ll have pictures eventually, and there is a video, but we’ll get to that later).

So anyway, the wedding is broken up into an afternoon and evening part. The afternoon was pretty crowded, with all the women and their kids wearing their best clothes. I got paraded around to meet everyone, at some food, and generally had a pretty good time. The afternoon session, while open to everyone, seemed to be mostly people who at least knew the bride (the groom wasn’t there…he had to work and couldn’t make it out of the capital).

We went back to Bébé’s house to hang out for a bit, and then made our way to the evening part of the wedding. I was in no way prepared for what this meant. It was in this huge outdoor courtyard with a stage filled with what I estimated to be 300 people. However, because I was with people who were close to the bride, they were not content to just blend into the masses, as I would have preferred to have done. Instead, they wanted to go sit on the stage with the bride and her family. So here I am, surrounded by 300 Mauritanians, wearing Pulaar clothes that don’t fit me, sitting on stage. That, in itself was pretty terrifying, but as I got used to, I started to enjoy watching the wedding and watching all the Mauritanians getting up to dance.

If that is where the story ended, everything would have been okay. Unfortunately, Americans in Mauritania don’t get off the hook that easily. Towards the end of the wedding, and what actually ended up being the last official song, the DJ/Singer guy comes over to me and tells me he wants me to dance. I declined his offer because a) I don’t know how to Pulaar dance, and b) I don’t really like dancing in front of a courtyard full of strangers. This man, however, was not going to take no for an answer. He grabbed me by the arm and literally dragged me across the stage, giving me just enough time to grab Bébé’s arm and pull her along with me. So Bébé starts dancing and do my best to copy her, because hey, once you’re already in front of 300 strangers you have to do something (there was a video camera in my face, so there is a chance I have the horrifying event on tape).

So the song ends and sit back down and I couldn’t stop shaking. I yelled at my friends for a bit for laughing instead of helping me, but I was able to see the humor of the situation. Okay, still not done. The official party was over, and they kicked out a good chunk of the strangers, but that still left about a hundred people there. The drummers start the music back up again, the singer starts singing songs about different people, trying to get them to get up and dance (which they all did). Eventually, I hear him start singing in French, which I knew did not bode well for me. Yet again he grabbed my arm and dragged me across the stage again. Luckily, this time he kind of showed me how to dance.

After that round of dancing, I was done for real. But seriously, I don’t think I’ve ever been so scared in my life. In the last four days, I’ve become a celebrity in the neighborhood. EVERYONE was at this party, and now there are always strangers who stop me as I walk down the street telling me they liked me dancing. Really, they mean they liked it in the way people like the circus, but I’ll take what I can get. There is another big family wedding coming up on the 30th…I’ll be practicing everyday until then.

So anyway, as you can tell, I’m fitting in quite nicely here in Kiffa. I hope you’re all doing okay and enjoying the cool weather. By the way, this entry was kind of long so I’m not going to proofread, so please just overlook any errors.

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