Today was a rough day. The little moments of culture shock have been slowly piling up in my mind and I'ts really starting to hit me that this is not just a trip, this is going to be my life for the next 6 months. On our way back from an overwhelming and overstimulating market/beach day, some fellows and I decided to stop at a supermarket to see if we could find some comforting snacks that reminded us of home. Our options ranged from ramen noodles to oreos but somehow we ended up with a can of salt and vinegar pringles. Eirik opened the can as we walked along the dark streets to Comico Mermoz, where I live, and popped a chip into his mouth. The initial taste was not what you want when you buy comfort food. The chips were sour and left a bitter taste in our mouths, but we ate them anyways because anything that's not chebbu jen and has a label that's in English is rare and should be treated as such. "After you get past the first few, they really aren't that bad," I said as I reached my hand back into the can. "But isn't that just like anything?" Eirik replied.
And he is right. The first bite of something unfamiliar is always hard to swallow. I have to keep reminding myself this every day here in Dakar because culture shock, like a salt and vinegar pringle, is really sour and has you wondering why you wasted 1000 CFA on a can full of it. When I am frustrated with bucket baths and baguettes and the blistering heat, I have to tell myself, "don't worry, its just the first bite." As I continue to taste Senegal, one crunchy, sour bite at a time, I feel comforted knowing that eventually I will get used to the flavor and the aftertaste won't affect me. I know that by the end of the next six months, Senegal will become my comfort food.
Now, I have a can of pringles sitting on the table next to me because they really weren't that bad after the first few. In fact, I actually really like them now.