Beatutiful Disaster

Ananda Day - Senegal


October 11, 2009

Here we were-Victoria, Alec, Matt, Hilary, and I (Gaya is still getting better so Rachel took her home in a car)- standing on the corner leading away from the zoo in the twilight right before the black of night. Behind us lat the cement walls with their murals of lions, tigers, and….. monkeys (no bears, sorry). And in front of us lay the massive traffic jam where we were trying to get into one of those magnificently sketchy car rapids in order to get home. During the day you see all the cars in Senegal, and you see the black stench that they excrete for a few seconds. In that erie light though, all was visible. Over the line of brake lights was a black cloud- swirling with the wind, growing with each car, revolting with each sniff. We couldn’t catch a car rapid on the corner due to the traffic jam, so we were forced to walk up to the next stop- through all the highway entrance ramp that looks like it belongs in modern day France, past the street sellers who were packing up their stands, the children running home, the cars pulling into the few abandoned dirt patches, the stand along “Imports” car vendor (Mercedes, American, BMW, so on), across streets where Mr. Diaham stopped cars before we crossed, through the underpass next to the trash on the sidewalk, past the mounds of scattered plastic that are shoved into the middle of the roads so that cars can still pass, past all the cars still waiting while they belched out the acrid smoke, and past the fading colors that we could still see. Before we finally turned onto Bourrgiba, where we would catch our car rapide, the view was not breath taking, but more and juxtaposition of a beautiful disaster. The break lights reached into the distance against the black night sky. There were the streetlights- not lit up by their own illumination as they stood dead, but rather the cars coming at them and going past them, casting shadows on themselves. The people in their blues, yellows, reds, organges- every single color went along with all the colored fruit, creating a kaleidoscope of color, the piles of trash flashing in and out of view as they were lit, and all while your throat burned, the slow burn of the mix of cigarette smoke and smog. Yes, beauty in the people and color, disaster in the waste and destruction.

Ananda Day