Saturday, December 20, 2008

You know that your time is almost up when you only have to take ONE more malaria pill before you leave!

So, you’re sitting on the coast of the Atlantic Ocean right now. In the distance a 5-star Radisson Hotel and shopping mall are being constructed, there are about ten soccer players running up-and-down the sandy beaches of Mermoz, and I am sure that there is a group of talibe somewhere.

It’s hard to look back at the past 3.5 months and reflect about all the things I loved, hated, enjoyed, and wanted to do again. It’s hard to look back and remember where I was, who I was with, or what exactly I was doing everyday. It’s hard to look back an imagine day one—hot, sticky, a mentality of “Why did I want to study abroad in Senegal”! It’s hard to look back and thank everyone who made this more than a life-changing experience, but a truly learning and growth experience—the friends, the professors, the coordinators, the guards, the family. It’s going to be hard in a couple of days to think “Wow, I was just in Senegal, now I am in the states…where did all this time go?!”

I want to take so many things away from this study abroad trip—the memories, the people, the food, the occasional drunken gas station night, the tangible, the everything! I want to look back 5, 10, 15, 50 years from now, not only thanking my mother, my father, my grandparents, my sister, my college, my friends, and my everyone else who mad this trip possible, but I want to look back remembering a country that will always be home to me, a language that will always be exciting and challenging, a group of people that will always be suma waa kër, and an experience un-like any other one I have ever had.


I wanted to figure out a way to summarize my experience in Senegal without writing for hours, so I have decided to make one final list—a list of memories and the numerous things that: (1) I will never forget, (2) I will always miss, and (3) I will need to come back for!


·      Fresh fruit stands everywhere—you know you’re not in Dakar anymore when you have to get in your car and drive to buy a banana

·      Walks and runs on the Corniche with Chelsea and Thomas

·      Papa Samba and his overly enthusiastic greetings about five times a day

·      Random drunken nights at the MyShop gas station

·      Burning trash piles

·      Open sewage water everywhere

·      Wearing flip-flops in December

·      Having Junior and Samba play on my computer

·      The constant “qu’est-ce qu’est ca?” and “donne-moi”

·      Local juices like bissap and ginger juice

·      Amelia’s rooftop

·      Everyone in my family

·      Yoff, Hydrobase, Mermoz, and all the other beaches Anna and I frequented

·      Candied covered peanuts that cost 25 CFA that you can find on practically every corner in Dakar

·      Chaikry-to-go at gas stations and corner boutiques

·      The random outburst into song…of the Lion King’s A Circle of Life

·      Swinging, picking-up, and spinning Samba, Junior, and Mange when I walk in the door, after coming home from school

·      Carving watermelons

·      Walking around people that are praying

·      Marie Gaye and Mustapha and Thiane in St. Louis

·      The amazing ice cream at La Gondalebm

·      The architecture of the Grand Mosque in Touba

·      Aux Delices in St. Louis and all the delicious pastries

·      Electing Barack Obama the next President of the United States of America and my incredible election story that goes with it

·      Having little Senegalese children come up to you and shake your hands and say hello on a regular basis, just because you are white and look different

·      Talibes and other children that beg

·      Jamming to 7 Things with Alejandra

·      fixed prices on things like fruit, nuts, and cookies….bananas are always 100 cfa, apples 250 cfa, grapefruits 300 cfa, etc…

·      Professor Ba and his insults towards Anna

·      Professor Ba and his obsession with calling me Obama

·      Thomas and his constant use of the wireless at the Baobab Center

·      C’est a cause de toi que there are thorns on my trousers

·      Marche Kermel and all the vendors that think I am some sort of Asian buyer/local that can speak Wolof fluently

·      Chomping on sugarcane and riding in the back of a pick-up truck at CSS

·      Rooftop shenanigans with Senegalese students in Ross Bethio

·      Cold showers

·      Alejandra’a family

·      Walking on sandy roads

·      Getting clothes tailor-made

·      Baobab trees…why haven’t these been installed in the states somewhere?!

·      Americans/toubabs in headscarves

·      Brocage and everything else butter is good with

·      Nyum…Nyum…Nyum…

·      Erin and the fact that she breaks everything

·      Dead ram parts floating in sewers after Tabaski

·      Power outages, not just every so often, but 2-3 times a day

·      The random things that you see people walking down the street with…fake Christmas trees, balloons, plastic toys

·      Carrapides

·      Gazelle, Flag, Royal Dutch, cheap gin/vodka/rum….

·      Walking down the street and not getting looked at funny for saying hello to everyone you see

·      Shaking everyone’s hand when you walk into a room

·      Tuna sandwiches at the corner stand

·      Seeing everyone dressed up in a boubou on Fridays

·      Women in wax print boubous

·      Taking “where the flip am I photos” with Thomas

·      My little wonton soup with Myra, Alejandra, and Val

·      Bus breakdowns…happening more than once a day

·      Making attaya

·      Baobab 4 and all the other places frequented by our group at night

·      Attempting to watch the first presidential debate with Nadia

·      “A Little Christmas Magic”…a cultural experience

·      Skipping DIT for drinks at the French Institute

·      The European Film Festival and “Entres les Murs”

·      deedeet, waawaaw, am, deggna tutti, asalaa maalekum, baax na, ana _____-bi, …and all the other Wolof phrases that I know

·      Asking Marieme what the easiest way to get to point B from point A is, via carrapide or bus because taxis are too expensive

·      Having to scale a 7-8 foot wall to get into my house after I go out because I don’t have a key anymore (I got it stuck in the door and broke it…); the funny thing is I really enjoy scaling the wall

·      Waking up to prayer calls at the local mosque or trying to fall asleep to Baye Fall chants after midnight

·      Eating around the bowl with my right hand

·      ching-ching…or any other form of “classification” because I am of Asian descent

·      Being okay with wearing the same pair of jeans for 2 months, the same shirt five times before it needs to be washed, and washing underwear by hand

·      “Talking with Tricia”

·      The cost of living, the weather, the everything that is going to take a lot of adjusting to when I get back home

·      The simple luxuries that Senegal has taught me to appreciate: hot water, toilet paper, silverware…

·      The sound of the women pounding the filling for cebujen

·      Waxal-ing (bargaining) for everything on the streets

·      Broken shoes/sandals…or whatever else Chelsea claims to wear on her feet

·      Random walks to Casino Mermoz, Quatre Vents, and of course the Post Office

·      Buying stamps to send love home

·      Airplanes flying over Mermoz in the middle of the night because the only time that flights fly out of Dakar is between 12-4AM, so they can arrive in the states and Europe at reasonable hours

·      Professor Diallo…enough said.

·      Pirogue rides down rivers, through bird sanctuaries, and through mangroves

·      A beautiful view of the Atlantic Ocean only five minutes from my house

·      The bright colors and colonial architecture of St. Louis and Goree

·      Anna taking photos of herself on my camera

·      Excessive amounts of trash on the streets, in the median of the VDN, in the ocean, in the sewage, everywhere

·      The education system and the way it works here… or doesn’t work here

·      Cleaning intestines with Mami

·      The walk to CESTI

·      The constant need to buy phone credit

·      The 30 minute bus ride that give me a huge headache going downtown

·      La galette

·      Egg sandwiches for lunch

·      Breaking fast with the family…attempting to fast for a day

·      The “academic” work that I did this semester…videos, papers, presentations…

·      The “wildlife”—birds, sheep, the occasional rare goat, lizards…its very exotic here

·      Walking to class with Val every so often

·      Watching out for your bag in markets

·      Marche HLM

·      Thanksgiving in Dakar

·      The walk from Mermoz to Baobab

·      Chocopain…the real nutella-like substitute!

·      Just walking around

·      The Spanish soap operas dubbed in French, the Wolof TV channels, the Wolof soap operas, TV5Monde: Afrique

·      The fact that Senegal has taught me that I can live a certain lifestyle, and that I really don’t need all the things that I think I do.

·      Brioche Doree…and any other pastry shop that made my day over the course of my sejour here

·      Zator and his Wolof class

·      Tricia’s mom…JOAN!

·      Alejandra, Anna, Anne-Marie, Amelia, Chelsea, Daniel, Erin, Kalen, Myra, Nadia, Sarah, Stephen, Thomas, Val…THE AMAZING GROUP!

·      Erin and her constant rushes to the restroom/bathroom

·      Watermelon babies and boobies (Anna, Sarah, and Myra)

·      All the beautiful sunsets

·      Cold December mornings (65-70 degrees) that are not cold at all

·      All the construction that is around…from office buildings to apartments to houses

·      ACI Baobab Center

·      cebujen, laax, yassa poulet, yassa poisson, maffe, and all the other delicious dishes Senegal has to offer

And all the other things that I can’t remember right now, but will never forget. This is truly just a sample of so many things that I do not want to leave behind, whether likes or dislikes…this experience was incredible and truly life changing! I’M STATE BOUND…leaving Dakar in less than 

1 comment:

home.for.projekt.invitation said...

I just came back to Sweden after some time in Senegal, and found your blog while searching for yassa-recipies. I smiled and even laughed out loud on the train reading your list, not least about to trying to fall asleep to the bayfall chanting and breaking keys.
Thanks for a well written blog that I needed well right now :-)