October was terrible. Every negative adjective applies. I cried almost everyday and spent close to $100 on phone credit calling my family in the US trying to find some comfort in the fact that I wouldn’t be home until April. The only days I felt slightly like myself were Sundays where I would a few of the other Fellows in my area. I spend a lot of time reading in my room, finding it easier to isolate myself from the discomfort I felt when I went out into my community. I love to talk and joke and laugh, and with zero language skills I was trapped and didn’t know how to escape.
November came and I found life outside of my compound. I discovered my older brother, Dioulde, who explained things in a way that I could actually understand. My cousin Issa moved in. He introduced me to his friends who slowly became my friends. I met my first dozen of what turned in to hundreds of marriage proposals. Hugs once again became apart of my life.
December and January flew by. I remember being utterly amazed on the first of both months, wondering how time was going so fast. I was a happily steady 2 months, but it has all blurred together. It got very cold at night, which yes I realize probably wasn’t that cold, but was significantly colder that I ever thought it would get. The evening were filled with terrible Pulaar DVDs. I dropped my cell phone down the toilet. I got sick for the first time. I also began to realize how emotionally attached I was becoming to this family.
February there was a dip. With 2 months left, I strongly considered disconnecting then. I thought it would make leaving in April easier. But instead, I became a daughter. Boussoura started telling me how soon I was leaving. The women’s’ criticism of my love life became more friendly than judgmental. I discovered that while my heart loves it here, my body (internal and external) HATES Senegal. There was a massive wild fire that was incredibly close to burning down a lot of houses in my village but I got to be apart of the organized chaos putting it out.
Now March has some and I am more comfortable and happy than I ever thought possible. The mangos are finally getting ripe. I have the trust of my family and my community. Three weeks left and serious talk of goodbyes and tears have already started. My friend asked me what I want before I leave, and all I want is for time to stop for a while.