You'll have to forgive me if this post is not particularly eloquent or full of witty insight, and you'll have to forgive my absence from the blogging world--believe me when I say I've been writing more than I may ever have before in my life. I don't know how much that's saying, really, and now that I think about it maybe that opening sentence is really conceited. I might never be eloquent or witty. I think I am, but maybe no one else does--except for my Dad, who I think is funny and witty but now that I think about that too, it might just me and my Uncle Jason who find him that way.* Oh well. I'm finding that having a huge ego can be a wonderful asset, especially as I embark on my latest endeavor--writing a complete narrative of my time here. It's an undertaking, but one that hasn't yet felt like work. It might in the near future as I get closer to our deadline, but for now I'm still enjoying myself. I say that a huge ego is helpful because I rarely second guess myself, so I just keep on keepin' on, putting words on paper. I did start over a few times, but hey. I'm only human.

In addition to spending the last two weeks writing, I also moved out of my homestay and into an apartment, which was hard but not impossible. Why? Because when I waved good-bye to my Yaay and Dogo from out the taxi window, I knew it wasn't good-bye forever yet. I was a little teary, I'll admit--I cried when I got there and I cried when I left, but then Dogo came over to the apartment with four of his friends later that night, and it wasn't so traumatic after all. I had lunch with them last week and it was like I had never left. We ate, I sat and watched some survivor moutons out the front gate, I told them that my American mother said they were all beautiful from the photos of them on Tabaski and they told me that she could come visit next year.

Well, ok. We'll see what we can work out.

Now I'm living in an apartment that I share with four other girls--it's tiny but so far I haven't wanted to kill anyone. I wake up early and make terrible coffee and sit in the morning light that isn't as harsh and bright as it is during the day, and I listen to the kids walking to school on the street below us, and I get my breakfast from the guy across the street who makes delicious egg sandwiches for the equivalent of 50 cents. McDonald's has nothing on him. We have a balcony that a palm tree waves in front of and that looks out over my new neighborhood, Sacre-Coeur III. And people have started recognizing us, saying, "Bonjour les filles!" Hi girls! This kind of reminds me of going to local places in my hometown with my sisters--we're always 'the girls' too. I like it.

I pull out my computer and write for a few hours in the morning, and then I go to lunch at the place down the street, and then I write some more. It's been a pretty quiet existence but I couldn't be happier about it. Weekends are a different story--the weekend before last we took a seven-seat station wagon, which is just as sketchy as it sounds, back to Thies, where we visited the artisan's market again, accidentally stayed in a brothel, got dropped off on a road somewhere outside the city and almost took a public transport bus to a town six hours away, and had dinner at a restaurant called the Magic Croissant. It was a resoundingly successful trip.

The highlight of this weekend was sea kayaking--we went to a place called Oceanium that we'd been to once before, at a party called Cool Raoul. It's part club, part scuba diving center, and part sea kayaking place. It's right on the water, they have a flagstone patio that overlooks the ocean, and when we showed up they were more than happy to accommodate us. There were no waivers, no instructions, and no life jackets--until we asked for them, eliciting confused stares and some half-hearted, "Well, if you really want..."

But the bay was calm and the water a deep, dark blue, and Goree Island was visible in the distance. The sun wasn't too hot, everyone was in good spirits and Dakar looked almost pretty from this angle. We were out for an hour for about 5 bucks each--pretty incredible.

Then on Sunday we went fabric shopping, which means I get to practice my terrific bargaining skills--they're getting better every time we go. Vendors hate it when this toubab rolls up. We made one vendor's day, buying four or five different fabrics from him, and then broke his heart when we told him, actually, we are both married. Am na jekker--that's my favorite phrase in Wolof these days. I have a husband...

Now it's back to the work week and looking both anxiously and excitedly at the calendar--three weeks from Wednesday and I'll be back in the States. So much to do, so little time.

xoxo, Lala

*and, as I have been informed, so does my Uncle Ollie, and probably my Uncle David too.