Why yes, I am writing this blog post from beneath my mosquito net.
I currently have 25 bug bites (just south of my knees), two dead (massive) cockroaches in my trashcan, and a spider named Toubab that has moved in to my almost-unpacked suitcase. Despite my severe disliking of bugs in general (especially bugs that are larger than my hand and are extremely difficult to murder), I am absolutely in love with Senegal. I am aware that this is only day number 4 and I am experiencing what is called the “honeymoon phase” of culture shock, but honestly, when reality hits and I finally accidently drink unclean water, I am confident that I will still adore the way the air smells like 50% incense and 50% goat, the way everyone on the street greets each other warmly, the way the children are the most confident people I’ve ever come across, the way every single person I’ve seen is way beyond beautiful, and the way my 5 year old host brother named Issa holds my hand whenever we go for walks. Even when the homesickness hits hard and I realize that I’m not going to see my family and friends for at least another 7 months, I will still be completely in love with the magical tasting juice made from a baobab tree, the endless supply of mangos my host mom insists on feeding me, the gorgeous sound of call to prayer periodically through out the day, and the weavers that sit in the alley I walk through every morning, creating the most vibrant cloth I’ve ever seen. And, believe it or not, when I finally curl up in the fetal position under my net, covered in bug bites, complete with an upset stomach, more bugs than friends and homesickness, I believe I will still be charmed by the consistent power outages, the rooster outside my room that doesn’t know he’s not supposed to start making noise at 3 in the morning, and the fact that eating with your right hand out of a communal bowl means that your fingers will probably smell like goat, fish, or chicken the rest of the day. These details, no matter how large or seemingly insignificant, will stick with me forever. Granted, they are mostly just surface observations – little things that merely begin to make up the flavor of Senegal. But hey, it’s only day number 4, so stay tuned for my transformation from whining about (massive!) cockroaches to hopefully integrating in to the Senegalese culture and becoming a part of the family. (But don’t get too excited, I’ll still attack the roaches with the bottom of my sandals).