Well not much has happened since I last posted---August came and went in a sublime blur of perfect Oregon summer weather, freshwater bodies, my family and my friends. September brought me to Senegal, which is where I am now. No big deal or anything, but hello Africa. I flew in and landed this morning in Dakar--although time is playing tricks on me again and I'm pretty sure I'm back in the warp and today is actually tomorrow, because frankly it feels like last night. Riddle me that.
But I'm here without incident. I'd like to first point out that if, in the event a person might ever be on the lam, this should be their first stop. Customs, for the first time in the history of my travelling life, were fun---I should probably be questioning the security of the country but hey, it's hard to complain when they practically stamp your passport with a smiley face. I'll just put it out there though, myself and the group I'm with do stand out significantly. And by stand-out I mean we are the biggest and most obvious target of every panhandler on the continent. Our Academic Director, Souleye, wasn't able to come through the airport gate, so there were 7 of us girls walking out of the airport and we were immediately swarmed by men offering to carry our bags for money and to have us buy SIM cards--talk about an adrenaline rush. Some of the girls had their bags pulled right out of their hands, but I think they were just overwhelmed and hadn't practiced their mean faces enough, like me. It's a gift and a curse.
But once we were caught by Souleye and Bouna, our assistant director, we were off to the races. A more charismatic pair there never was--Souleye told us that he and Bouna had been together for years, best friends since secondary school (high school), so we shouldn't listen to any stories Bouna told us about him, and vice versa. Bouna will be with us the most, I think, he rode with us on the bus to the hotel and told us stories about his recent trip to New York. I wasn't paying attention though because outside life in Dakar was happening--just off the highway, or main road, none of the roads are paved and cattle and goat drives are normal. Outside of our hotel too, there's a horse untethered. I haven't seen anyone claim him yet and he hasn't left--I'm curious to see how this drama unfolds. Once we got to Hotel Good-Rade, which is remarkably nice--they fed us and left us in jet lagged hazes for the rest of the morning, so I showered and napped, and then we had lunch at a Restaurant Mowali. We met the owner, Owa, the most beautiful restaurant owning woman in the world, and her son, Pierre--it was like eating in their living room, they were that welcoming. They made us drink some ginger drink for our stomachs and then they brought us Bissap, hibisicus flower juice, and something called Monkey Bread juice, which was good but I have no idea what it is. Hopefully not monkeys. The bread part is negotiable. The food was good--beef in a sauce, rice, cooked vegetables.We walked to Mowali from our hotel, which is small and colorful and has a wonderful guy named Alfa who is hellbent on meeting OUR EVERY NEED. It's on this wide, dirt road kind of, but there are only buildings on one side, and only about half of the buildings are empty and dilapidated, and the other half are beautiful and look like they belong in the Caribbean.
Sidenote: Already there are kids everywhere. The brave ones wave, the shy ones smile, they all steal your heart.
Now we're back at the hotel trying to rehydrate and understand the Senegalese soap opera we're watching, Jacob's Cross. Someone's dead. That's all I've gotten other than the title. Next we go to dinner and then collapse and get ready for a crazy, crazy orientation week. Bouna has told us three things he knows for sure about Americans: we ask too many questions, we are always thinking about money, and we despise, more than anything, being sick. He's probably right.