I frequently compile lists in my head. Places I want to visit, inspiring people I have met, moments I want to write about… I even have a list of the lists I want to write one day. So I guess now’s a good time to cross one of these out… Here goes a list of the main things I will miss when I leave Senegal.
1. Café Touba. I already loved coffee before coming, but since the delicious spicy coffee known as café touba entered my life I can’t help but wonder how will I survive without it after leaving this place. Spicy coffee? Why didn’t people at home think about that before??
2. Wearing flip-flops all day, every day. Yes, that’s it. There has never been better shoes for me than flip-flops and I cannot describe how happy I’ve become since I realised I can keep my toes free anywhere I go in Senegal. I will certainly miss that when I get back to closed-shoes-loving-societies again. Bleh.
3. Senegalese juices. Bissap, baobab, ginger juice… despite all the sugar, the juices are definitely something I’ll be wishing for on future hot days outside of Senegal. I know, there are juices everywhere, but… it’s just not the same.
4. Eternal greetings. In Senegal if you don’t ask “how are you doing?” at least twice before you start a conversation you are doing it wrong. Greetings here can take up to five minutes and are an important way of showing you care. You want to know how the person is feeling, how their family is doing and if everybody at home is healthy. It is a matter of politeness and care for those around you, and you have no idea how well taken care of they make you feel.
5. Hearing the expression “Insha’Allah”¹. I’m not a Muslim, but I love hearing “Insha’Allah” whenever someone mentions the future, be that two hours or ten years from now. I find it a nice reminder of how the future in unpredictable and we shouldn’t take it for granted. It helps me remember why I should always live the moment, and I am glad to frequently hear that here.
6. Making friends in the streets. Making friends in Senegal is as easy as going out to the streets and starting a conversation with whomever is around. I’d never seen such hospitality and I have to admit: Teranga² is real, and it is not overrated.
7. Chilling in the Senegalese style. Imagine a life where no one is stressed and anyone is willing to chill out for a couple hours. Easy, no? Now imagine that chilling out for a couple hours usually means getting some tasty snacks and making delicious tea while you watch the sky in the always-outdoor Senegalese gatherings. Sounds like a dream? Good news: in Senegal, that is real life. I have made so many friends and had such meaningful conversations this way. It’s made me love life and all the small, beautiful moments it can provide if you only let yourself be. I had never felt such a light atmosphere as I feel anywhere I go here, and that is definitely the thing I will miss the most when I leave Senegal.
¹ “Insha’Allah” means “If God will” in Arabic.
² “Teranga” is the word for hospitality in most of Senegal.