Sunday, October 18, 2009
I am in Saint Louis Senegal… I arrived in Dakar Thursday morning. as soon as I got off the plane I was instantly hit by the humidity and 80 degree temperature at 6am. An airport attendant help me get my bags on a cart, (he worked there so I thought he was legit), and rolled them to the exit (sortie). I didn’t see a projects abroad sign anywhere so I started to panic. The attendant waited with me and let me use his phone to call the projects abroad office. After the phone call the attendant said, “As-tu quelque chose pour moi?” (do you have anything for me?) I said, “tu veut l’argent?” (you want money?) I started to pull out a couple of dollar bills but he saw a ten and kept asking for it……..i gave it to him. As soon as I handed the ten over, Papis one of the projects abroad coordinators arrived and picked up my bags. I was glad that the attendant helped me but I didn’t think he would ask me for money. He is getting paid by the airport right?
We left the airport by taxi. Then we took the taxi to a gare des taxi which is a big taxi station that kinda of reminded me of the cherry auction. There were a lot of people trying to sell fruits, vegetables, shoes, sim cards, or just plan ole asking for money. At the Gare there are taxis that drive longer distances; we needed to go from Dakar to Saint Louis about a 250 mile drive. I was slightly scared being there. The sun hadn’t yet risen and vendors kept swarming to me because they knew I was not from there. We found our taxi which was a sept places(seven seater) and I sat between papis and a woman who fell asleep as soon as the car started.
The drive took about 5 hours! Here are some highlights
• I held my pee as long as I could because I didn’t want to stop at a random place and get kidnapped.
• The baobab trees are amazing! There are fields of them
• The Tour de Senegal passed us! And there were African cyclists!
• I was on the edge of my seat and tried to fight off sleep because they drive super crazy! There are lanes on the road but nobody stays in them. PLUS all the cars go slow, so when our driver tried to pass the extremely slow cars, we were in the opposite lane for about 3 minutes as cars were coming towards us head-on.
• A girl in our taxi spoke English and was very nice and wanted to be our friend. Fati is a student at the university in Saint Louis, studying English and anthropology.
• I huge locust flew through the window and scared the shit out of me.
We made it safely to my host family’s house and I went to sleep as soon as I got there.
• Mother: Madame Awa
• Father: Monsieur Mamadou
o Nogaye 14 year old girl
o Mbakaye 17 year old boy
o Mody 13 year old boy
o Seynabou 13 years
o Moustapha 8 years
o Khady 24 years (shes only here on the weekends)
It’s been really fun with them. They’ve been helping me with my French (and wolof the native language) and I with their English. A very interesting thing happened last night. We were all sitting in the living room watching t.v. and Nogaye asked me, “ Tu es tres jolie, pourquoi pas moi”/“You are very pretty, why am I not?” I instantly said “No, No, No!! tu es jolie aussi” “you are also pretty” but that was all the capacity of my French could do. I have sooo much I could say if we were speaking English, but we weren’t so that was the end of that. It’ll probably come up again and I’ll try to be better prepared.
A lot of things have been happening pertaining to my “beauty”. Emily, one of the projects abroad coordinators told me that the guys here thing I am a “Métis” to them. Métis are women of mixed descent (African and European) who are in the upper-class and business owners. Friday night all of the volunteers went out to the bars to listen to live reggae bands (emphasis on live). Emily and I danced, and every time I spoke to someone, usually a guy, their end goal was to get me to go somewhere with them or give them my number. One guy even told me he’s an African lion…..ok.
A bientôt !