Mirando hacia atrás

Mirando hacia atrás.
September, 2014.

Yesterday I was sitting on a bench near my new home thinking about all the happenings during these past two weeks -from our first Senegalese meal, to Mermoz beach. Today, I have figured out that I would share two inter combined lessons I have learnt throughout these two weeks that have made me a better person.

Enjoy the ride -First lesson

First week in Dakar was chaotic, overwhelming, or as you like to call it. I was lost amongst the crowds of people and my little understanding of the language. Every day was a harsh adventure to the unknown until a few nights ago: I was in my room, staring at my fan, when all of the sudden, and without any previous advise, the power went off- everything was dark, there was no fan, and no anything. I rushed down the stairs and asked my host brother: Qu’est ce que il y a Ibrahim? Pourquoi il n’y a pas d’électricité? J’ai ne pas du ventilateur pour cela donc. He replied: Ce la vie mon frère… enjoy the ride. I was struck by what he said to me and blanked for a second as he took me to the rooftop of our house. "Look up and take advantage of every situation" he said to me. As soon as I did, I saw the magnificent sky, full of stars, all of them waving to us, teaching us hope; teaching us to enjoy the ride.

Why so serious? -Second lesson

As many of you know, I lived in Hong Kong, where bureaucracy and seriousness are found at its finest. At my old school and previous internships I was usually told to take life seriously and really to focus on achieve what I want – I don’t think that’s bad at all. However, sometimes we just need a break from everything and relax to then take it easy.

A few days ago I decided to go and buy a SIM card for my phone. I went straight after we finished French class. I crossed the highway, stood on the sidewalk, waved to a cab, and got into the first taxi I saw. It was my first time on a cab in Dakar, so I told the taxi driver where to go and we went. However, in the middle of the ride I realize something was wrong: there was no taximeter. At first it seemed quite an illegal thing for a taxi, but I didn’t bother much as I thought the taximeter was hidden or at least not at my reach. Later, when we reached my destination I asked the driver why there was no taximeter and he surprisingly said: Quoi? "On n’a pas ça ici" as he endlessly laughed. I knew I was probably getting ripped off for being a "toubab" and I would have to pay double the price for a normal 1000 cfa taxi ride. I was getting pissed and disappointed as the taxi driver continued laughing about my little knowledge of Senegal. After a while however, he stopped laughing and said to me: why so serious? It’s only a 1000 cfa. I looked at him and said: actually, I don’t know why am I so serious.

We all indeed should enjoy the ride as he did.


Qu’est ce que il y a Ibrahim? Pourquoi il n’y a pas d’électricité? J’ai ne pas du ventilateur pour cela donc. / What’s going on Ibrahim? Why isn’t there electricity? I don’t have a fan because of that then.

Ce la vie mon frère / That’s life my brother

Quoi? "On n’a pas ça ici" / What? We don’t have that in here.

Toubab: term used to describe a foreign person visiting or living in Senegal.