Senegal is built off of people and relations a sentence that has been written hundreds of times over. After skipping off of a plane full of serenading ay doom, or children, I slowly let my brain re-wrap around the notion that being alone is more a malady than anything else. This can be both beautiful and fatiguing as you’re always on, but one can also see the weight that humanity rather that materials hold. There is a small problem though: when you meet someone you have never met before [anywhere], you make small talk, right Ms. Manners? Or rather, that is polite, but the fact that I’m even rubbish at small talk in English brings up the problem. Carrying on in French & Wolof both helps and hinders this, from letting me sit in my foreign language bubble that allows for perfect tuning out, to speaking about the token subjects that can cover hours: family, the house, the token Indian & Brazilian dubbed soap operas, wrestling [ click it if you didnt see last week’s NY Times], and small gossip.
Today I had a break from this struggle as my host mother Odile and I sat down for our first dinner alone. Through some conjunction of a Catholic holiday, the beginning of the work week tomorrow, and her husband Jacques still being in Italy for an expose of his sculptures. I suppose I feel the need to explain that simply because it really just doesnt happen. For example, try to imagine being in Manhattan and someone just letting you take the only parking spot. Does not happen. Through our laughs and choked words we flipped through topics from a Japanese student who ate more than a Military commander, to the pitfalls in a medical and education system that spurred tragedy in the center of Odile’s life.
Every day here is full of the draining heat that leaves you a lump as the air is filled with the Harmattaan wind from the Sahara, pulling its dust with it. Yet its the humanity again and again that brings you back to the sweeter side of life. In homage to this, some sweet moments so far:
-the gelato above, in conjunction with a conversation with Hilary, one of the original GCY fellows with me in Dakar.
-The little niece who is here often is a sort of princess in the best way. We match wits, as living in two new languages brings you back a couple of years.
-I made friends with 4 Tunisian & 1 Algerian student at Dakar’s main university, which if anything, will make for interesting conversations.
-I fixed my houses wifi. #winner
-My tongue is literally tired from speaking. Upside: Odile corrects me, but it hasn’t even been that many times. I can almost understand the news.
-My first lunch and an example of real fruit, or real sweetness.
Tomorrow: To find work, visit the research center, and organize courses. Ciao!