August 09, 2004

Email to Friends about Senegal

How do I start describing the culture shock that I first thrusted into? Well very slowly that’s how (this keyboard is configured the French way so it’ll take me a little while to sort it out). Before I start, I won’t recap my first days as I promise to post it on my site soon.

But a few things I did find out rather quickly:
1) Yes, the water is not potable and if you drink it without filtering it,you’ll find yourself running to the bathroom the next day. Charming.
2) No, washing machines are not common so people either hire someone to do their washing by hand or do it themselves. I have resolved myself to doing it like the locals but since I love having very clean clothes, I imagine I will be sick of it by the end of the month. So far, I’ve been in the country less than 1 week and have already washed 3 loads. On the plus side, the washing powder is
very effective and really clears out stains.
3) Dakar city center (about 10 mins from where I live) is packed with people especially at rush hour. If you are planning to go shopping there, you must brace yourself against all the outdoor sellers that will naturally flock to the ‘rich white woman’. If only they knew how poor I was.
4) I am richer than most other people here: I have an apartment with solid walls, running water, sofa and a balcony. It’s actually a pretty nice place with plenty of room. Hint, hint: come visit me.
5) What passes for sidewalks in the city is a joke. The city has no trash disposal system so you end up walking on cement that is now cracked beyond repair, sand, trash, prayer mats (although it’s nice to try to avoid them). I quickly learned to walk to work in sandals carrying my nice shoes under my arms.

Yesterday, the girls from the office invited me to join them for lunch. This consisted of going to the street and entering a man-made shelter of corrugated iron and cloth. It was stiflingly hot in there due to the number of people crammed in a small place and the fact that it was so enclosed. But man! The food was soooo good. I had a whole grilled fish-avoiding the head and tail- and
awesome rice. I was initiated to very strong Senegalese tea (green tea, mint and lot and lots of sugar).
That night, I went for a longer visit of the city and bumped into several Rasta men that call themselves the Brothers with a Good Heart (in Wolof) and was promptly introduced to all of them. From their glassy eyes and odor I quickly deducted that they were stoned. Oh well.

I also found a very American looking Gym (this is a miracle in a place where store fronts usually look very deteriorated). I think I might join if I stuff myself for lunch again.

Take care y'all!


Anonymous said...

man, what a cheap post! c'mon, give us something new!! ;-)

007 in Africa said...

Oh please, let me see you update a blog regularly...And YOU have internet at home!