On Saturday, I went to a wedding with my three American friends, my four host sisters, my host brother, and their onslaught of friends and extended family members. My sisters had invited me and my friends a few weeks back. When I asked where it was, they responded "Dakar". When I asked where in Dakar they said a name that I was not familiar with, and my host brother said it's far away.. but I assumed he was just sulking about being forced to go because he hates weddings.
My friends got to my house between 11 and 11:30. We got ready together and put on our traditional Senegalese dresses (at first I was uncomfortable with the notion of wearing traditional garb but my sister explained to me that whether you are Senegalese, American, Muslim, Christian... anyone at all can wear them and it is more a sign of respect to attend these events dressed appropriately). I had forgotten to factor in Senegalese time because we didn't end up leaving until 2 pm (sorry to Clara who took half a shower so that she could make it to my house by 11).
When we were on our way out of the house I saw a big van waiting for my sisters and their posse (the first sign that should've made me realize the wedding wasn't all that close). The four of us got into my brothers car who drove us to pick up his cousin who was going to direct us how to get there since he didn't know the way (second sign). Then we got stuck in traffic, I fell asleep, and when I woke up we were very much not in the city of Dakar anymore (third and final sign).
An hour and a half after leaving, we realized that the wedding was in the region of Dakar and not the city.. classic mixup. As we drove through the sand streets, we eventually stopped once again because the other van broke down. Since we were close to the actual wedding, my host brother tried to drop us off so that he could loop back and pick up the others but then his car stalled and got stuck in the sand. We attracted a lot of attention and pretty soon there was a crowd of kids surrounding our car yelling "toubab" (white person).
We went into the wedding, which was in someone's courtyard, ate lunch, ate some beignets, then sat and talked for a bit. I am still unclear on the actual process of weddings here but all I know is when the bride came in, everyone started cheering and yelling things at her. Then there was a circle of people singing and playing the drums, then the couple left for a bit to go to the mosque to get married (although I learned the man doesn't actually have to be present for that part and I'm not sure if I saw the groom at all that day), and then they came back to celebrate. To be quite honest, I was really confused for most of the day.
Eventually, we made a discreet and tasteful exit around 7 pm. We said our goodbyes, I held a baby, then we left. On our way back the car kept stalling but we didn't think it was a problem UNTIL we were on the rue de Ouakam, less than 10 minutes from home, when the car stalled again.. only this time it did not turn back on..
So there we sat while my host brother pretended he knew what he was looking at under the hood. He called his friends to come help us who showed up with a slightly bigger car and a rope. They tied the cars together and we slowly made our way back home with his car in tow... until the rope snapped. They retied it and we made it all the way to my street and as soon as we hit sand, we heard a loud noise and turned around to see his entire bumper had been pulled off (after he had just gotten the entire exterior fixed up 2 weeks ago...)
Overall in hindsight, I'm glad I got to leave Dakar for a bit, spend all day with my host family and friends, celebrate a marriage (even though I had no clue what was happening), and push a broken down car while wearing a boubou. not a bad Saturday in my opinion.