Perfect Day in Dakar

IMG 0434

I think that this afternoon might have been the most enjoyable one that I have had since coming to Dakar.

It started after school–I walked with some friends to a nail shop that a few other girls in the program have visited. The place is a hole in the wall–very close to literally. Most boutiques in Dakar look like they’re set up in a vacant garage of someone’s house (and this is true for many of them). This place looked like it was a vacant half-bath that someone had set up shop in. There was barely room for five people in the shop.

Inauspicious beginnings aside, I managed to get a totally excellent (and vaguely Toucan Sam-esque) polish change and nail shaping for 1000 CFA/$2. It was bonkers cheap, the people were nice, and at the end of it my hands were covered in glitter. There is nothing about that situation not to like.

Continue reading

Cultural Whiplash

Sometimes I have days where I feel reasonably secure in my ability to function in my life here in Dakar. Other times, I feel like I may in fact be completely broken. Today I had both of these experiences within about five minutes of each other, and felt what I can only describe as cultural acquisition whiplash.

The positive experience was–as almost all of my positive experiences are–an interaction with my tailor, Ousmane. I like him both because he makes me pretty, pretty clothes and because he is the most deadpan human being that I have met since leaving the United States. He’s great.

I was passing by his shop this evening with a friend when I saw him outside taking a smoking break. We waved. He waved back. Then, he hissed at me (the way that most folks here indicate, “I don’t remember your name despite knowing the circumfrence of your entire body, but I have something to tell you”). Continue reading

Blazer time!


I accomplished one of the things on my 21-year-old list ‘o planned accomplishments (“bucket list” makes me want to gag)! Thanks to Ousmane, my previously-mentioned and super-awesome tailor, I now have what is—as far as I’m concerned—the perfect blue blazer. Why?

1. It’s wool with silk lining, meaning that it’s quite warm and I won’t be tempted to machine wash it. Plus, natural fibers.

2. It actually fits my weirdly-hunchy shoulders. Also my chest. Also my waist. Also all of me, he is magic. (I was discussing the tailor with someone yesterday and we decided that most of our delight with his work comes from the “I gave him something flat and he made it something three-dimemsional!” shock. Every time, this man.)

3. He interfaced the back collar so it stands up and doesn’t do the cheap jacket thing where it rolls under and dies. (I know that cheap jackets do this because all of mine do.) Continue reading