Wednesday, September 2, 2009

A Week and a Half In

I promised to set up a blog about my study abroad trip to Senegal, so here it is!
I've been here for about a week and a half so far, but it feels like a month has past. Every day presents new challenges and almost every one of these obstacles could be easily overcome by a Senegalese 10-year-old. We're learning to barter effectively, ctross the street (there are no traffic lights or signs here), negotiate a taxi price in Wolof (the native language), and to respond to marriage proposals from Senegalese street vendors adn taxi drivers. As far as the marriage proposals go, it's best to lie and say that we are married. Conversations typically go like this:

Taxi Driver: Are you married?
Me: Yes.
Taxi Driver: To an American or a Senegalese?
Me: American.
Now the exchange can go either of two ways:
Taxi Driver: You can always have a Senegalese husband.
Taxi Driver: Are your friends married?
Me: Yes.

Even though the city itself is typical of a poorer country, the vistas here are beautiful! When we drive to downtown, we drive along the ocean where huge waves beat against the sand. From the "Phare des Mamelles", or the Lighthouse of the Mamelles, one can view the entirety of Dakar and the ocean surrounding it. Plus, it's one of the few places in Dakar where one can see enough trees and plants to pretend that one is in a forest rather than a city.
Being here makes me appreciate how comfortable of a life we live in the United States. Here, the power cuts out for hours almost daily and finding a decent internet connection is harder to find than a NYC cab driver who doesn't curse. Bread crumbs are made with stale bread and mortar and pestle, and maids (almost every Senegalese family has a maid) do the laundry by hand.

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