After requests from various family members and a reminder from my Sixth form French teacher that some people do actually read my blog, I am finally getting round to posting this blog! So much has been happening that I haven't been able to finish it before having to add new things, but what better time to get it started than during the routine midnight bucket-fill duty (a treat that the water has come on this early!)

The last few weeks has been crazy. A whirlwind of birthdays, marking tests, discovering Joal and even a few trips away! The weather (starting with this like a true Brit) is actually getting cooler. As in, some mornings, I've actually woken up a little bit chilly. I can actually function in the day time without searching desperately for cold water or the fan. (All fantastic news, apart from the cold water bucket showers becoming increasingly unwelcome!) It's got to the point when, despite it still being about 27 degrees outside, I'm actually wearing jeans sometimes. Jeans.

Throughout November we had 3 birthdays to celebrate, Marieme's (our now 7 year old sister) Charlottes, and our friend Zara's, who is volunteering about 3 hours away in Kaolack. For Charlotte's birthday, we decided to go all out, put on some make up (for the first time in a good few months) and head out for lunch. We explored a suggestion made by Aicha, our host mum. The taxi dropped us off at the place we asked, but it looked like the middle of nowhere. He pointed us down a dirt track, where, for what looked like miles around, there were only baobab trees, sand and cows. Walking down, we were sure he had done half a job, and just turfed us out before our desired location. Then, suddenly, a huge complex stood. Surrounded by 'hut' communities and the wild, was an American grill bar, take away, restaurant, gym and swimming pool! So random, but so lovely! Our pizzas had cheese on. Actual real life cheese. Cheese.

For Zara's big 18th, we went on a little girly holiday, branching out into a really touristy area called Saly, only 45 minutes away! On entering our hotel room, we sounded like a group of pre-school aged children at biscuit time, running around exclaiming 'THERE IS ACTUAL RUNNING WATER' 'WHAT DO YOU MEAN IT'S HOT' 'WHAT THERE IS AIR CONDITIONING NO WAY!' Needless to say that the hotelier had seen this much appreciation for her hotel! We spent a lovely couple of days in Saly, enjoying the pool, the restaurants and even the clubs! The night we headed out to the club (accompanied by the waiter!) was... Different. We went for dinner early(ish) so as to ensure we had preparation time, but on the walk back, found ourselves 'gatecrashing' a big birthday 'Saba!' (Dance) Although we really weren't supposed to be there, watching all of their moves, so fast that even my camera on sports mode couldn't hack it, and the wonderfully colourful boubous was amazing! At 11.30, we ran into the hotel and yes, were all ready to leave for the club at 12am! It was the first time that charlotte and I had been to a nightclub since we left, so we made sure to enjoy every minute of dancing! The clubs here definitely differ from those in the UK. Most of those on the dance floor, and especially those with the most impressive dance skills (and who weren't afraid to show them off in front of the mirror!) were the guys! I've picked up a few, so you better brush up your game if you're coming out with me when I'm back!

As well as our trips away, we have also explore Joal more this month, now that we can walk around in the day time without becoming too hot to function! On our way back from Fadiouth, we decided to take a random turn, just because. Who knew that Joal had its very own tranquil mangrove plantation!? Okay, doesn't sound that exciting, but the experience is enhanced when a random man offers you your first ride on the back of a horse and 'cart' (so much more unstable than it looks!)

Our time away from Joal this month has really made us realise how much we love the place, despite the rubbish and constant smell of fish, it really is beginning to feel like our home, not just somewhere we're volunteering. Our classes are feeling like our own, and teaching the children to shout Aita and Coumba as we pass in the street instead of 'Toubab' has made us feel so much more accepted into this wonderful community.
I've had so much to write about, that to keep you up to date, I'm splitting it into three blogs, so this was November!

Ps. This month, I let charlotte give me a haircut. Partner trust right here.