That’s the first thing I said after I lost my second wrestling match. I want to tell you guys something crazy that happened about a week ago. As I said I was wrestling… In Senegal this is a HUGE sport. As a matter of fact it’s the national sport here! So I’m going to tell you exactly what happened. As most of you know I tend to be just a littttttle competitive and that hasn’t left my personality here in a different country even one bit. Anyways, I have a good friend here named Khadim. Khadim is a strong 19 year old young man who trains with me every night. Every night consists of running unusual paths, endless jump ropes, or me showing Khadim new ways to hit/target a muscle group using only body weight techniques. All this being said we clicked not because I was exactly able to talk to him or vice versa but we were able to notice each other. If you’re a gym rat you’ll understand what I mean. It’s like when some girl/guy walks by you with big biceps or if his/her lats look as if they are going to explode at any simple flex. It’s funny I know, but this is what’s inside the mind of a gym rat!! Anyways, Khadim and I immediately had this telepathic connection. The first words that came out of his mouth were “yau doole” which translates to “you strong”. So I had to respond with a “dedett, danga doole” which means “no, you are strong”! This is what makes gym friends. So yes, we established the friendship quickly, so what do most physical and competitive boys do especially once their friends? Well if you didn’t know.. we fight someone to test each others limits and who is the bigger buck of the two. So this is exactly what Khadim and myself proceeded to do. As it’s starting to get dark my friends and I put down the ball and start bragging about who’s the strongest. So now we have to see. So match after match my friends are being eliminated by each other until it leaves two of us, Khadim and I. So as you have probably guessed we go at it. It’s getting hot I can feel he’s tired and I’m getting there. I see my opening and I lunge for both his legs and gracefully take him to “suf bi” (the sand). In this country that means you win. There I proved myself, I’m good, out of our friend group I’m #1 now I can go home and continue my training. Nottttt really… as I regain my breath and Khadim does as well he scavenged the breath to say “encore” which we all know this. He is saying again, In my head this immediately translates to “ok lets get it then!!! I’m show you this work again”. So we go again and man am I gassed. We are going hard and I’m dying but I see another opening, the same one. “This is too easy” I think to myself and I shoot for it! Although unlike the first time he counters it! We both fall to the sand with a bang and he swings behind.. he wins. So I stand up and pay the respect he deserves. I repeat “Khadim, yau dolle” and he shoots back with a smile on his face and says “deddet, YAU DOLLE”. This was tagged along with him raising my left arm to the sky, no problem I thought. Although as soon as my arm left my side a tremendous pain shot through my whole body. Everyone noticed, it wasn’t something able to be hidden. I thought to myself “what the world, that super hurt” it seemed as id as soon as I immediately felt pain all my new language skills left me. All I could muster were the few words of “deddet” and “Ana Ede”. Which mean “no” and ” where is Ede”. I’m looking for Ede the man that was born in The Gambia because he can speak very good English and lives in my house! So as I painfully walk to his work in the dark I then explain the story. He of course thinks I’m over exaggerating or even joking. Until I explain to him to feel my arm. He pushes his pointer and middle finger where my shoulder SHOULD be and finds nothing… He then searches for it and it decided to hide about 3-4 inches over in my chest. That’s when the title comes In play. We immediately synchronized in saying “oh no, oh no, oh no” and quickly made our way to the compound. Walking in the door and my family knowing something’s wrong happened at the same time. They sat me down on the 3 step stairs and asked me very difficult questions for Ashtins brain at the moment. All I could respond with was “no ko bokk” or “no problem” this was because my language skills were at a bare minimum and I also didn’t want Khadim to get in any type of trouble. After the first phase of confusion my family then jumped into high gear of calling people and setting myself up for a hospital visit. Being in Touba Toul the town in which I live in, a common way of transportation is a horse cart. As they rally a horse cart to the house I rally strength to get up on to it. If anyone’s been on a horse cart before you know they are bumpy and quite uncomfortable, that’s no different here, especially on the long straight dirt roads. As the Chauffeur, Ede, Khadim, and I venture out to the hospital only a 5 minute walk from my house, the driver takes a hard right when I know the hospital is to the left. As a matter of fact I can see the entrance from where we are.. So I quickly ask ” Fo dem?” translated to “where are you going?”.. the driver turns to say “the hospital”. I’m more than confused and this horse keeps making unusual jolts in its movements only increasing the pain in my screwed up arm. So Ede then my life saver with English says the “village hospital is where we are going, they can’t make your arm at the big hospital but here they will make your arm”. I didn’t understand and immediately stereotypes filled my brain and I peeked up with anger and fear saying “Yo Ede, I’m not going to some village to have them “make my arm” take me to the hospital man!” He then responded with ” I’m sorry Oussenyou (my Senegalese name) I can’t do that you’re dad said we are taking you here”. I’m pissed off is the best way to explain my emotion now. I’m in the middle of nowhere and so even if I wanted to go back I couldn’t. Then the horse starts slowing down
And I start to make out straw roofs and walls in the pitch black. It’s very quiet besides the animals and my breathing because of the pain. The horse slows down and I’m praying this is a joke. They help me off the cart and I’m in all honesty laughing cause I think this can’t be real. No way I’m in Africa, in a village, where I can’t see a thing, and about to get my arm “made” whatever that means. We then come upon some guy squatting as if he’s been waiting for me his whole life. We do the important greetings like you do with everyone and he then says “tolg” or “sit down” and I do as the old man says because it doesn’t feel like I have a choice anyways. At this moment I’m sweating so bad that I’m panting like a dog and I can’t think straight. He grabs my arm with some force. He examines it and without a warning lifts it to the sky just as my friends did before. This time it hurt worse. Then as my arm is in the sky he rotates my hand clockwise and uses his other hand to push my a shoulder in place. The crunch echoes in my ears still. He continues to put my arm back in the original place it belongs with smaller and quieter crunches. As soon as he let go of me I completely laid in the sand. I was soaked, shocked, and ready to go. After I regained my breath he had me sit up and rotate my arm. It worked…. my arm was at full motion. I’m not joking either I could do the whole 360 with my newly placed shoulder. As I said I was ready to go but he continued to have me sit. So I sat and waited for his next command but next thing I knew he was running his hand up and down my arm and praying.. I said again “oh no, oh no, oh no” and prayed too! It may of been over reacting but my mind was filled with stereotypes in the aspect of I thought he was praying something other than what I believed in and I didn’t want to play that game. Although, he finished and I finished and we both stood up. I shook his hand and he sent us on our way. I kid you not that’s how it went. As of now my shoulders good, honestly great, but I was and am still irritated in my self that I was so closed off in a different way of handling my hurt arm. I let stupid stereotypes flood my brain when I personally hate them so much. I know this wasn’t exactly the typical update everyone back home is looking for but this was obviously a big part of my adventure here. I learned that I still have more work to do with my sense of openness to the unknown. I always thought I’d jump on any knew opportunity if it meant I’d be uncomfortable! Although I see now when it has to do with me and how much it’ll really will affect myself I’m hesitant. So I’m sharing this with you as a sense of accountability, now everyone who reads this can ask me “hey Ashtin are you really being uncomfortable”? So thank you guys for listening and I appreciate every one who takes the time to read this! Much love to everyone and contact me if anyone wants to talk via facebook, instagram, or my cellphone! When I have wifi I’ll do my best to get to you as well!
P.S despite that story life in Senegal has been very chill. I have met some very cool people and I’m starting to really see the world in a new lense. I’m very content here. It’s definitely not what I accepted but I think that’s why I’m starting to love it. I miss a lot of things my moms tamales and carnitas, adobo, chicken wings, and peanut butter(the JIF kind). I’m not gonna front either and act like I don’t miss her. I think about my mom everyday. I think I go through the grief cycle sometimes 20 times a day. Although I don’t think I’d necessarily be better if I was back in Michigan. Sure, I’d have my people but besides that, that’s it. She still wouldn’t be there. Here I have tons of time to meet more people and dig in to the word. I’m deep down happy and grateful but it hurts often. I still can’t say thank you to everyone that was there and is there for myself and my sister you guys are family and are in my heart forever. Thank you, thank you, thank you and if anyone wants to talk like I said don’t hesitate to reach out!
Ba ci ka naam!!!!!
See you later!!
Sent from my iPhone