Chee Eye Dee Eye

José Israel Cruz


October 13, 2014

I write these words on Wednesday, October 8th, 2014

Despite having what I believe to be an above-average capability to understand and respect other people’s points of view, I never understood “the country folk”. Being raised in a mainly urban setting for my entire life, it became increasingly hard over the years to comprehend why anyone would willingly live out in the middle of nowhere, so far away from it all. In my mind, cities provided a tremendous ease of access to a plethora of goods, services and means of entertainment; “the country” provided bugs. The only reason I thought anyone could have to justify wanting to live more than an hour away from a decent-sized city was because they were an outdoors-y kind of person. But not even that made much sense to me. Cities have parks, and if you want to see the outdoors, then go drive there, but don’t live there! “The country folk” people never made any sense to me… until I started to live in the Middle of Nowhere myself.

I arrived at Thiadiaye (pronounced Chee-EYE-Dee-Eye or something like that) for the first time on September 13th and moved here permanently a week ago (October 1st).

Population: Not much.
Main Economic Activity: Farming.
Location: In between I Don’t Know and God Knows Where.

To the north, you can see the incredibly vast, seemingly endless African Savannah. To the south, you can see the incredibly vast, seemingly endless African Savannah. Guess what’s to the East. It’s quite a view. To make matters evermore finer, my house lies in “the new part of town”, which I suppose is slang for “the last house before the end of Thiadiaye and all of civilization”, so I’m about a good 10 minute walk from the only paved road in town. I don’t want to overdo it, now. By Senegalese standards, Thiadiaye is a decently-sized town, and it lies not too far away from other neighboring towns. It is not the Rural of all Rurals. Nonetheless, it is most definitely completely different to what I’m used to. This city boy was in some damn straight country, amigo. And, amazingly, it’s not bad.

After having been here for a while, and after seeing the contrast between Dakar and here, I can now say that I finally comprehend why some people refuse to move to cities. Even more so, I think I now favor their opinion. You see, if peace had had a birthplace, it would’ve looked a lot like Thiadiaye. The space, the sounds, the air, and (literally) above all, the night sky have given me a new perspective on the definition of comfort and peace, and a new appreciation for the connectedness one feels with nature. I hope to expand on this topic in further blogs. There are some challenges of course (mainly the demonic legion of mosquitos), but I feel as though I can make of this place a sort of paradise. So, certainly, my setting has made the whole “I-cannot-speak-to-anyone-to-save-my-life” issue a lot easier to deal with.

During my time here, I’ll be able to pursue apprenticeship opportunities in local schools and farms, but since Senegal is currently in its holiday season and classes have yet to start, I have two weeks of well-needed rest. I spent my first week working on my language. This next week, I’d like to take advantage of the free time to attend to your curiosities; I’ll be posting one small blog per day, each on a different characteristic about Senegal’s culture. I hope that with these blogs, you will all better understand what I’ve been experiencing, and more importantly, we can all have the chance to reflect on what we can learn about this beautifully different culture. If there’s anything specific you’d like to know, ask away.

As for me, I’m doing fine emotionally and physically. I’m still learning, I’m still living. I suggest you do the same as well. Bonne nuit, mes amis.

 

José Israel Cruz