The month of September is notorious for erratic weather, and so far it is living up to expectations. It is the middle of Ramadan, so no one in the vilage is eating or drinking anything from sunup to sundown. They wake up at 5:30am to eat a few spoonfuls of "funde" - millet porridge - and then wait until around 7:30pm to drink a cup of coffee, a glass of bissap, and maybe a loaf of heavy village bread. The days pass extra slowly for me, since there is a low energy level all around. I spend a lot of time reading. Crops are slowly ripening, but not quite ready to harvest yet. Meanwhile, the rains have made cell phone service uncertain, and Internet nonexistant in Nioro.
A few days ago something happened to add some spice to this Ramadan schedule. In the evening, rain and speeding winds started to arrive. Before long there was lighting, heavy downpour, booming thunder right overhead, and the wind roared against my thin aluminum door. I lay in bed listening to the storm.
The next morning, when I tried to open my back door, I found all my millet-stalk fences lying on the ground. When I opened by front door, I encoutered an entire tree right on my steps! The storm had torn it down. Several of my backyard trees were snapped in two, and the family's fencing was all plastered to the earth, the fenceposts pulled from their holes. But our compound was lucky. Some peoples' roofs blew away; some older huts collapsed under the pelting rain. Almost all the village trees had some damage. Plenty of people are now missing walls.
It took a full day to put up all the fences, clear out the fallen timber, and salvage bits from where they had been scattered. Still, Keur Ali Gueye was fortunate in my mind. Despite all the destruction, most houses are still more or less intact, and miraulouly, no one was hurt that I know of.