HEY THERE! Coming at ya from Toubatoul Senegal! I'm currently sitting on my teal woven plastic mat on my bedroom floor, finishing a nice little late night snack of a red apple and some chunky peanut butter. Quirky snacks like this remind me of home. I occasionally get whiffs of certain perfumes of people passing by in the heavy sand, hear ringtones of nearby buzzing phones, observe characteristics of individuals, and even my own host family which all remind me of routines from back home in Chicago. In these last 5 coming on 6 months here in Senegal, I've begun to find familiarity, and comfort. Every breath I take in, welcomes new, and every breath I take out allows me to sink a little more comfortably in my temporary place here. Balance! Laughs! And Jamm Rekk! (peace only)
My name is Ruby Levin/Amina Tine, welcome to my blog! 🙂
As you read, come in with an open mind, let these words place you in my shoes (most of the time I'm not wearing any), and relax and enjoy these moments, lessons, and experiences I illustrate of my bridge year here in Senegal.
"Tomorrows Dust" by Tame Impala (feel free to take a listen while you read!)
I woke up this morning to the daily confident Rooster, who placed himself on the ledge of the stables by my window with his proud morning "cokadoodledo"! Today is our second to last Wolof class with our amazing teacher Sen Bi Diallo! I wiggle myself out of the tucked in mosquito net that covers my bed. My curtains ripple as the wind blows through the holes in my window,inviting itself in, and right beneath it is a wavy pattern of collected dust on the floor.
The wind today danced through the trees and carried the dust with it! The dust swirled and scooped through the air. Many elements of living here remind me of life lessons. One is in relation to this song up above!
"And in the air of today, is tomorrow's dust", he sings
Senegal is full of peace, spirituality, and the belief of some very powerful morals that shape the community, and ways of life here. This lyric reminds me of the belief in carrying peace throughout you, and sharing your blessing of peace with others.
I remember the first wolof class we had, and the first saying we learned was the call and response of "Salaamaleekum-Maleekumsalam" (peace be upon you). And here we are at our second to last wolof class! I have learned so much more wolof then I thought my brain had the capability of learning!
I've learned from the very start that a lot of things here I can't just allow to fall into place. I can;t just leave it up to the wind. I must move and create my experience here. At my job, I can't sit and wait for work, I must ask to receive it. When having conversations, sometimes I must be the one to start. Asking and using my voice and being transparent with what I want is key!
Whatever I begin to create today, whether that may be relations, projects, goals, routines or even promises to myself, will carry through and fall into tomorrow, and all the days that follow!
The dust created from today's sandstorm that seems to find it's way into the openings and crevices of my books, clothes, and desks placed on my shelves, will still be there tomorrow. The actions started today will resume tomorrow, and again and again the cycle continues.
The familiar whiffs of perfume worn by strangers here reminds me of when I was younger and my Aunt would give me her tiny perfume samples from work. My family here still yells to each other from across rooms and halls of our compound, just in the same way me and my Mother do back at home. When my Yaay (mother) listens to her favorite songs, although she is joyous, she can never seem to clap on beat, which also reminds me of my mom back home.
As I greet my neighbors here, their friendly smiles and faces have begun to have a sense of familiarity, with that same sense of kindness that I received when I used to walk my dog around the block at home. My baby sisters first wolof words, and her consistent out of context repetition of them, remind me of when I babysat at home and would watch kids grow up, just as I'm doing here.
The routines I've created back at home, the preferences, my knowledge over the familiar space around me and such all act as a fluid, they are flexible. These routines don't exist here, but yet they still follow me and are projected in many different ways.
Although these new routines feel quite set in place sometimes, I know that all good things must come to an end. Yet, through these adventures, and experiences, I am always painting my story, even when I think my brush has left the paper. The simplest things here, and these routines are all apart of these stories I will take home with me.
My routine of traveling to wolof class in the town over and taking those wobbly but still alive taxis on Tuesdays and Thursdays of every week, is sadly at it's last stop.
And that confident rooster, who places himself on the ledge of the stables by my window with his proud morning "cokadoodledo", are all part of this new, fun, routine here in Senegal. Yet soon, in just one more month when I go home, the cycle will continue and a new one will begin. I will have carried so many lessons, memories, relations, routines, and experiences with me that it won't even feel heavy, and it will simply feel like a part of me and my story. Because in the air of today is tomorrow's dust, and so on and so forth.
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Thank you 🙂
Jamm ak Jamm!– Amina Tine