A Smattering Of First Day Moments

Ananda Day - Senegal


October 3, 2009

October 3, 5pm.
By the way, the theme song for this year’s GCY fellows was decidedly Cat Stevens’ Wild World. Sweet sweet song.
Hmms. So a quick recap of the world as is, and has been for about a day.
  • I got a red hard cover moleskin in the airport because I think I’ll run out of space in the ones I have now. It was a great success.
  • My last American meal (in Dulles) was Pizza, oh so great.
  • There were a ton of MBA students on the plane, and when we were telling them about GCY the repeating phrase (one of the girls literally said this 12 times) is that we seem really mature.
  • I watched part of the Hangover on the plane before I fell asleep.
  • The thing that most made me freak out/ be aware of the fact that I am actually in Africa was when the moment I stepped off the plane, I saw soldiers. There were soldiers at the terminal (that we were bussed to after getting off the plane), at the visa check in, at the baggage claim, after you have your baggage x-rayed, outside, and then on the roads leaving the airport.
  • Good golly, this place is wicked humid. Think NC in the dog days of summer where you walk outside and feel like you’re swimming and need a snorkel to breathe. It’s like that, but the sun is stronger. And don’t worry, I’m all about sunscreen.
  • So there is a lot of rubble everywhere. And construction. Like there was rubble right next to the runway at the airport. Oh, and there was a cat…. on the runway… near the rubble.
  • There are horses in the medians of the highway. Supposobly they belong to someone, and they just wander off to feed, then they come back to their owner. Freaky when you see a horse on your first trip on a ‘highway’ (not really speedy, just two lanes really, and there are speed bumps everywhere. Side note, there are almost no car crashes in Dakar. While there are also about two stoplights in the city, and there are some signs for directions, people avoid epic-ly failing each other by always communicating, person to person, before they turn or where they are going.)
  • There are also sheep everywhere. Except they have no wool. I will try and get pictures of all of these things, but it might not be till later. For the spartan elite, the word for sheep in French is: mouton- pronounced moo-tawn.
  • So on the first day (yesterday) I was so tired that as I brushed my teeth I used tap water. Call me captain idiot. Rachel, my team leader, says its not going to be too bad. I mean, maybe I’ll just get immune a little bit faster.
  • Every morning we are woken up promptly ( around 5ish i think) by the chanting in the mosque. Which really is beautiful. But in all honesty it is not best appreciated until more sleep is obtained.
  • Here they call white people toubabs (two-bob). So everytime you walk past a group of kids, they go: toubab, toubab, toubab, etc.
  • It’s basically essential to shower three times a day as the weather is killer. I use the word ‘shower’ loosely.
  • Today I had my first French lesson, oh what a great four hours.
  • In approximately half an hour ( the Senegalese aren’t really watch people; you’re not late if you’re there within four hours) we will be going on tours of the nieghborhoods of our host families. Yesterday we went on a tour of the neighborhood around the Baobab center, which is where we are learning. Currently there are students there from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Concidentally, two soldiers from Fort Bragg just left, as my French teacher, Madam Dinaba was teaching them. I can now tell you how to get to the post office, cell phone store, grocery store, the President’s house, the Baobab center, a pharmacy, and probably some other things.
  • Tomorrow we are moving in with our host families. Wahooooo.
  • Lunch yesterday consisted of: whole fried fish, seafood white rice, and onion saucy stuff. Yes, I know, I will have to eventually learn to live and love the seafood.
  • Breakfast is typically baguette & faux-Nutella made with peanuts. or margerine, or preserve.
  • We have also had a random sampling of different sheep stews. Beware of bones. Also, can we just talk about how there are sheep everywhere? Les Moutons sont en tous dicrections!
  • I’m also wearing tank tops for basically the first time ever.  But don’t worry, I can’t wear them in public, that would just be silly. Only in the apartment, or under a button down.
  • Gaya and I are currently sitting in the middle of the hallway (with no air circulation might I add) in order to get an internet  connection.
  • The power went out last night, the first night, and not unordinary. Yay for flashlights.
In summation, its different, crazy, bizzare, and extraordinary to me, as I have obviously never been somewhere so NOT. But that’s not to say that I’m not enjoying every moment.

Ananda Day