Stream of Experiences

Mary Modisette - Senegal


September 12, 2012

The first moment I left the plane and felt the damp humid air that made my face shiny and clothes stick uncomfortably, the men who spoke in rapid inaudible French grabbing at my suitcase demandingly, the stares and disapproving eyes that practically bored into us as we walked saying “foreigner”, “unwelcome”, and “different,” the thick, black exhaust the spewed in pungent puffs from yellow taxis, buildings with open roofs and unfinished metal poles jutting from the concrete, laundry hung from every window, women walking in bright colored prints balancing giant bags and jugs on their heads, buses filled shoulder to shoulder with people with teen boys hanging out the back of the open rear doors, people walking on the highway and crossing on ramps, children half-hidden behind doors giggling and men sitting on doorsteps smoking, sellers shoving necklaces and doormats at the window of the bus, the loud nasally Muslim prayer projected over distant speakers, mass groups of men with skinny legs running along the beach, eating fresh French bread with butter and jam, learning about unfamiliar values and strange beliefs in a half circle, walking along the red dirt-strewn roads with shops and business on one part and necklaces sold by the curbside on another, taxis swerving and nearly hitting anyone walking by their reckless path, toddlers chasing one another around in circles by mother sitting in white plastic chairs, a stray dog with cataracts eating some garbage in an alley, small hole in the wall tailor shops, boys playing in a large dirt soccer field, six and seven year old boys weaving colorful cloth in quick fluid strokes, men pushing flat paint-chipped wagons carrying flats of food and construction supplies, little girls running to shy to speak to us, friendly Senegalese mothers greeting us in loud French and grinning toothy smiles, workers using rope pulleys to hoist water bottles with a grey substance inside, sitting sideways around a bowl of spicy rice and fish and vegetables, rolling balls of food that squish in-between your fingers, listening to the storyteller’s poem of tea and how to drink it, the sweet juices of all different colors and consistency, and finally watching the sunset as the entire sky streaks yellow rays mixed with soft pink-stained clouds. These are the day-to-day practices, the dull and mundane activities, that when seen through the eyes of a “tubab,” are small moments of wonder; small moments of curiosity; small moments, regardless of their simplicity, that are ingrained in my memory for a lifetime.

Mary Modisette