Going to the Delta

Hanging with the termites.

I’m officially back from the Sine Saloum delta, ie your friendly reminder that everywhere in Senegal that is not Dakar is staggeringly beautiful.

This was a whole program trip, so all 60 of us rolled up after a three-hour bus ride on Friday. We then took pirogues (think 30-person canoes) over to our campment, which was composed mostly of thatched-roof, solar-powered cottages and hammocks. It was populated by increasingly ridiculous birds–think two-foot-long irridescent blue things, and songbird-sized hummingbirds.

While settling in the first night, I bought some jewelry from a Tuarag silversmith. The man was six feet tall and all done up in blue robes (the Serer women next to him were not thrilled, as no one looked at their wares). The jewelry is lovely and, you know, desert nomad.

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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