For the awkward half of the story, the fact is that my second or third day in Senegal, I was peed on. I had gone outside to look at the stars with my roommate Erin, and I was awestruck. The sunset earlier that night was stunning (forcing me to climb a semi-stable concrete tower to see it), and laying on my yoga mat while staring at the stars, I was at peace. Surrounded by trees, freshly out of a cold shower, and with bats flying overhead, I felt my entire body begin to relax as Erin and I laughed at the similarities in our lives. As I attempted to point out constellations other than the little dipper, a bat swooped over us and peed on me. And not just anywhere. On my head. On my face. And, to top it off, in my mouth. It was an out-of-body experience, to say the least as I screamed and spat while Erin stared at me wondering if the malaria pills were making me hallucinate. And, looking back, I definitely overreacted. It really wasn’t that much pee. But it was a very interesting welcome to Senegal.
When I told my story to the other fellows at breakfast the next day, Erin and I bowled-over laughing as we watched their horror-struck faces and worried glances. I assured them that I was fine and attempted to convince them that I did not have some Senegalese bat disease. Later that day we had our first Wolof class, and boy was it hard. As the prominent language of Tabia Ndiaye, my future home, I knew I needed to study-up, but it turned out Wolof was not as easy as I hoped it would be. Unlike French or English, Wolof has an entirely different sentence structure that was throwing me for a loop. At the end of the first day I could barely say hello! So, determined to improve my Wolof beyond the noncoherent grunts I was spitting out, Erin and I went outside again– this time under the cover of a mango tree for protection. And during our intensive study session, we received a gift from the gods. The mango gods, to be exact.
And befallen on us from above was the juiciest, ripest, most delicious mango I have ever had. Not even liking mangos before this precious one, my mind was blown. They are so good. I had been missing out on so much. After Erin and I finished the mango and washed our juice-covered faces and arms, I realized that the playing field was even. In two days I had gone from spitting out bat “poison” to devouring mangos blessed by the heavens. And I knew that was how my time in Senegal would be– filled with very high highs and very low lows. But if I could get past the lows, and learn to laugh them off later on, my time in Senegal would make me feel powerful. And I’d slowly begin to live a life of high highs.