I would like to take a moment to talk about what has proved to be a multi-faceted and challenging part of my homestay experience....the family goat. The goat is not a normal, United States goat. It's enormous. It comes up to the middle of my waist. It has curly horns. It has an impressive set of cojones. Sometimes at night, I'm pretty sure its eyes turn red. The goat and I are on very, very uncertain terms. I know this even despite the language barrier (he only speaks Wolof), because we've had a few run-ins. For example, the goat is tied at the back of the courtyard, blocking both the door to the bathroom and the outside faucet. On the first night, I was told loudly and explicitly to NOT TOUCH THE GOAT. Everyone else in the family yells at him and bumps him with their hips when he gets in the way. I'm not allowed that luxury, so I have to awkwardly skirt around him to go to the bathroom. We have staring contests while I brush my teeth--he's up one, but I've been practicing. He eats literally everything--yesterday I had to tell my host mom he was snacking on a tin can he found somewhere. I know he watches me, I can feel his awkwardly slit eyes follow me around the courtyard and into the living room. Our rocky relationship is distressing for me--I've always wanted a goat, I love goats. I think they're funny and cute. This goat is starting to change my opinion. But, from what I gather, I'll have the last, probably traumatized, laugh. At the beginning of November is the Muslim celebration Tabaski, in which the male head of each family slaughters a bull goat in the street and I think gives it to a Christian family? I'm not clear on the details (hello language barrier), but I do know that the goat is getting the axe. Also, one of my host family's favorite activities is watching goat competitions on TV. Not kidding, they're huge, televised events to see who can get the biggest, proudest goat. They hold up scorecards like it's the Olympics. But the best part are the names of the show goats--some of my favorites: AlGore Jr., Obama, Police, and Balla Gaye.

And speaking of Gaye, Marvin in particular, it turns out that my host brother, Dogo, is a big fan. We had a family bonding moment singing Sexual Healing. They were laughing at me, because they think I'm funny and because I was singing--and I was laughing at them, because they knew all the words but none of what it meant.

Life is good here. Starting to feel more normal--also, I just got back from the beach and I had a fresh mango. It's the little things, I guess.

xoxo, Lala