There are three kinds of us with the chance to live in this world. There’s one kind that lets the world revolve around them with a forever unchanging attitude and a cold shoulder to even the bare thought of growth, there’s another that really embraces challenge with wide-open arms and a fast-driving desire to build upon the foundation of what already is, and then you’ve got dolphins, whom really already have life figured out and simply just exist. And yes call me crazy but dolphins are one of us, because it’s not the embodiment that keeps us all linked through this circle of life, just ask ‘the Dog Whisperer’. Dolphins though are a far more complex subject to review, but at the same time subjectively remain as simple as it gets, so for the sake of being concise I’ll just stick to my own experience, period. I do realize though that this may be what you might consider a long read, so thanks for being my pal and reading about your good’ol pal Samuel’s blog! I know my senior class English teacher will love this paper, so that’s sayin’ something big! Love ya Momma Fiest!
I won’t say that I started as totally on the first side of the spectrum, but I have indeed gone through a recent transformation, thanks to my incredible hosts in Senegal and also Global Citizen Year. Life is so different here in Senegal, though in recent days I’ve really come to see it as a more golden sort of difference than I had first seen upon arrival. I’m one who has always been so very linked to nature, and also one who wonders why us people left the safe-haven trees in the first place. Though I admit that amidst my dream to become the embodiment of the biggest “Tarzan” ever known, I never took into consideration of how life might actually be like in Sub-Saharan Africa. Well the dream hasn’t changed, but lately the perspective has really been blown into reality. I’m not going to lie, so I’ll just say that my first week of official stay in Butlamine was border-line dreadful. The people are so great! But when baking at the peak of heat in the arid Saharan climate thrown in with the CRAaazy number of bugs, sand upon sand upon sand to drudge through where ever you please to be, and then all the little things piled on top of a bald fellow’s traveler extremely upset stomach, is a lot to deal with! All elements together as one is a mix-up that if the brilliance of the more tranquil and brighter side lay unseen, would prove so only to sicken all your wits, you’d be corrosion-stricken, only ridden with no rhythm-followed-dance, you’d sit to only glance as death would prey, oh no, you’d wither dry as you died day by day. No, I’m no larger than life, but how lucky is Mother Earth that I am indeed as reflexive to whatever she may serve? I’ll give you the chance, you be judge on the grace of our dance. I call it luck that all those elements which I first spoke of, life had specially served up for me all on one day, for me to see how this new set of gears really grinds. Let me unwind. Here goes, that day was one of a kind.
I confess! For I for sure can’t remember the date of this one day among many, because Senegal really does cast a real cool kind of spell. Those blessed within enchantment are left naturally without care for the time, or even the day of the week. Life’s been good to me, but on this day I was woken up still feelin’ soo sleepy, for the night before I was kept wide awake by the infinite-seeming number of bugs. Oh my gosh man, it was bad! My ‘in-field’ brotha’ from anotha’ motha’ Moda and I have moved into the only building in the village with electricity, which happens to be the village’s nursing room. So big brother Moda, and I were hanging out well into the hours of the night with the villagers in our light-filled room. So with a hysteria-haze kind of craze all of the moths, grasshoppers, kernel-pops (as I call them), preying mantises and dragonflies, fleeing from the shadow of dark night, swarmed into my room. Hey, I was cool with all of them when I couldn’t so much see them underneath the covers of the tables and closet. Midnight rolled by and the lights went off, so that’s when we went into bed. Now it was then when the bugs really began to make themselves known, trying to be my bedmates when my mattress is CLEARLY a single! Ohh you can’t blame them for tryin’ though, can ya?
In the mood I was in though, I put a lot of blame on them, too much even. There I was that night under my mosquito net, sweating out, tossing and turning due to the killer heat without a fan pointed at my body, full blast, all-night long, like I was so glad to have in Dakar. My brother even warned me that if I tried that trick as to stick-it to the heat, the fan would most definitely kill the power. Even so, on top of the heat I had Kernel-pops who are these heavy crunchy corn kernel shaped beetles (who happen to be the best, but not only, bugs at getting under my mosquito-net), that were dropping on me and scaring me tough! even though I was already in heat-driven craze. This is when I remembered the wise words of my advisor and also mentor Oumou, through her text message which she sent on our first night of ‘in-field’ stay, saying “Goodnight, sleep tight. Don’t let the bed bugs bite. If they do, hug ‘em tight.” Wise words I admit for sure because that’s when the bugs had driven me off the edge, sending me raving to search for every single bug within my net to indeed ‘hug ‘em tight.’ Hug my hands around them, my hands did.. to death! Finally! I had thrown the bugs out of my mosquito net and some time went by which actually convinced me that I had aaall of them out of my net. I laid there as peace and sleep began to softly sweep me into a nice dream, when this big ol’grass hopper dive-bombs straight onto my belly and scared all the sweet dreams right out of me… Yo, I was noottt happy! I squashed that big ol’hopper on the floor with my sandal just to get back at him, then lay, feeling as if I was really within a suffer. I was still sweating out and, it wasn’t until after the sound of the 4:30am Muslim call-to-prayer howled out that I had finally drifted off into a dreamless sleep. It felt like I had just gotten to sleep when big brother Moda woke me up for a Millennium Villages project-meeting, far away in the city of Louga. This was indeed the start to a classic “No Good, Terrible, Very Bad Day”.
We landed in Louga after a long car ride in the covered bed of a taxi type truck. If you’ve ever thought you’ve driven with a full car load, I had to sit tight with 12 other people which we fit under the cover with even 3 more people hanging off the trucks outside handles. Believe me, that was one full load! The project-meeting wasn’t so much my cup of tea either because I really hadn’t comprehended its message with fluency seeing as how the meeting was spoken half in French and half in Wolof. I had only managed enough to force myself to stay awake so as to not disrespect everyone in the room. So the meeting ended, and brother Moda and I headed back home, though making one stop in the neighboring village Leona, to catch up with Moda’s co-workers. ‘Arghhh!’ the pirate in me called out. Though the lunch we took to in hope to escape the high-noon sun, was one stop that was fiine by me. ‘Yes man, I love to eat!’ I then made it my goal to find some juice to lunch with that day, so I set off away on my own and proceeded to check-out every single boutique in Leona and to my frustration all I could find was soda. I was not having any soda, because it really only has negative health perks and I don’t like that stuff anyways. So I stuck with the little water I had saved. Defeated, I headed back to the restaurant where Moda was waiting for me, but was stopped under the hot sun by almost every single person along the way. As is Senegalese custom you ask someone, in Wolof of course, meaning everyone you meet, ‘hey how are you doing?’, ‘how is your family?’, ‘how is your the day going?’ and then some, before you both thank Allah for all of the blessings of life for like, half of a whole sweet minute!! Gosh (note intense sarcasm)!! Of course I love the love of others more than anything and indeed showed respect and talked with everyone that I met along the way, but as many people as had stopped me, being tired as I was and also on being a Monday (Does anyone really like Mondays?! Well, the worker in me is beginning to.. Hey, Monday is also the busiest market day of the week in Leona), I was far beyond the reach of their warmth, feeling cold to them and definitely noticeably edgy to all these friends. I guess I was just happy to make it to the restaurant when I finally did, empty clammy handed and all!
So, I call it a restaurant though the place is really just a two room shack. One room with a blazing wood fire grill, and the other room with a mat set above the sand to sit upon as you eat. Yo, it sure did feel good to kick back under the shade of that breezy shack and taste some great food. We ate some fresh cut goat, diced-steak and ribs, roasted up and served with a sautéed caramel onion sauce. Yessir, the break under the shade did indeed work well with resting the weary spirit. With the red hot sun going down now, brother Moda and I headed out of town, back home, to Butlamine, that land so well known. Yes yes you bet, not feeling my best, I really just wanted to rest. Though my back was wet, and my bald head red, a shower, plus bed, to nest, was all I’d respect. An easy digest by the quick chariot’s glide, breeze blew past the head, I attest, I really just wanted to rest.
One fresh breath of air, home did have to spare. Did I dare? Dare I did to go, still now feeling low, though without power, I did make my way to the house of showers. The house of which I speak, oh, does bring me so much please, though, the word house ever so, is just one big tease. Actually, by the way there’s only room enough for one to stand and sway, to end long days. So with my feet I stood, as I drew up water with a large handled cup from a bucket, and poured down now over my crown to wash and cleanse, Thank you Lord, I had made day’s end. Though standing comfortably, I confess, I could not for all the space within my head, hung as dense as lead, my body felt dead from the dark haze of no praise. I was filled with nothing more than complain, let alone disdain. I stood now in the light of the electric lamp above my head for the sun had recently gone down, and still I stood staring with a mighty frown. I became twisted around my own anger. I’d felt as if I had been wronged. I then felt sad, vulnerable, and of course naked, however at the same time I was also completely unaware that I was indeed the host of a very unexpected visitor.
I heard a voice shine into the depths of my clouded mind, he said “Yo son, why are you sulking, when you’re blessed by the best?!” I looked up at the lamp as if in hope to find the light from whence the voice did shine. To my amazement there he was! A FAT and scary scaled big ol’hulk of a lizard! I swear I’d never been so shocked in my life. At once I saw his own fear sweep over his eyes, just as then, the same did mine, before he bolted (almost literally) the hell out of the window! Struck by fright, I yelled louud! My brother Moda heard me from inside of our house and ran over by the shower house and yelled in “Ay Fallou Beye, qu’est-ce qu’il y a?! Fallou Beye, vous allez bien?! (Hey Fallou Beye, what is it?! Fallou Beye, are you okay?!) Big brother was even scared for me by the sound of my howling wail.
All I could do was laaaugh! At myself, at the lizard, at the world, I laughed out of joy for life itself. As I laughed out I was so relinquished of my rusted worries as they melted through me. Each sweet breath in melded through to heal my tired heart, which was now warming up to the love of the world, only to become synergized within union to a joyful spirit. My head flew high, no lies, crimson light filled up my eyes. Feeling lifted within grace now, I then laughed back out to my brother “Woooow wow wow wow wow! Alhamdulilaaah! Damafa jar tit chii wonk bu rey bi!” (“Yeeees yes yes yes yes! Praise-to-God! I was so scared by a huge lizard!”) I had another healthy laugh as I finished my shower. Feeling cleansed now, cleansed of all the negative haze I had polluted my health with, cleansed of all the experience that had gone unappreciated then only to rot, cleansed period of all the grime and sweat and thus also refreshed, born into a new mindset. I was once again ready to live, learn and fall, then of course only to get back up under the greatness of the African sun to recycle those steps, all over again!
Never fret, show respect, what you give is what you get. Mind no worries, worry not to regret. Learn to see, but not expect. Love yourself, though it’s this world, remember to never forget. We’re here to learn, with conditions never set. Conditions grow, conditions debt, though it’s how you deal with conditions said, where wisdom is really met. Never fret, show respect. What you give is what you get.
I’ll have you know, conditions that same night really weren’t much better than the night before. Yeaah there were bugs, only thankfully, not any within my net. I do remember though that there was another unexpected visitor that night. Though this one a humble bard, rather than a startle-in-the-dark. So as I was falling asleep, another one of those big old grasshoppers started singing out to me. He was so close that I could even hear the air rush around each of his individual leg strokes. I turned over to reach out for the same murdering sandal I used the night before, but began to hear the grasshopper’s song with a sweet new sound. I turned back over, opening my ears and mind now as I fell through the clouds into a deep emerald dream. Yo, now that’s some Jazz, man!