Tuesday, October 2, 2007

I cant believe Im in Africa

This is surreal.

Im sitting in a cybercafé in Dakar; hoping that the power doesnt go out for another 3 hours; trying to figure out this French keyboard ....forgive my misspelling... glistening from the humidity; and marveling at this place. There are no words for the excitement and fatigue and wonder and profound joy that I feel. Maybe Grateful.

After bumming around Madrid for a few hours we caught our flight to Dakar. Madrid is the quinticential european cité: tiny streets and fancy clothes and tapas. Landing in Dakar; Walking onto the tarmack the first thing that hit me was the heat. About 85 degrees at 10pm and humid because were on the ocean. A rep from the Baobab center met us at the airport and we drove throught the city to our temporary apartment. They had dinner of rice and fish and bottled water waiting for us. We were all pretty much exhausted but we couldnt fall asleep. I think Ive slept about 12 hours in the past 3 days but its all a big blur.

We started bright and early this morning with breqkfast of beef and peas and walked to the B center where we have orientation sessions and wolof classes for 4 hours a day. This morning the directors talked about Senegalese cultural norms and orientation to the city. Then we took a walk with some senegalese girls who work for the center. It was killer hot :i was wearing my trusty spf 70: and we found neccesary places: ATM, grocery store =LB, youd love it=, doctors office; etc. Then we went back to our apt and had lunch with the girls. Seriously; theyre a riot.

Just a story: Not only do people stare at my hair, and the general fact of being a toubab =white person=; but some of the senegalese girls will come up to us american girls and ¨discreetly¨ grab our bootys and complement our djaifundae...which roughly translates to ¨bootyliciousness¨. I guess its a big complement and the senegalese newspaper even publishes a ¨Miss Djaifundae¨ list... the most bootylicious famous women mostly in America. So far Beyonces on top. So...a big holla to all the djaifundae women out there. Represent.

After lunch we returned to the BC to have Safety orientation. Senegal is one of the safest countries in Africa. and their major crimes are petty theft and traffic violations. And indeed the traffic is CrayZay here, but ill get used to it. The authorities are pretty strict, and we read an article about an irishman who spent 4 months in prison for mooning a government building. African prison. Needless to say, africa is so different from the US. There are so many people out on the streets, socializing and doing nothing. This also has to do with the extremely high unemployment rate. Everything feels...disorganized? Alive. I can scarcely take it all in. I feel so over stimulated. This in addition to the lack of sleep makes for one crazy high. I already think I could love it here, but give it time.

We walked home afterwards and had dinner of fish and french fries. then the power went out for the past 3 hours. The 10 other american girls and I lit candles and sat on our balcony overlooking the small but busy street below and talked about predictions for ourselves this year. Megan and Claire are going to get malaria. Sandra will get some rare african maladie, Maren will win djaifundae contests worldwide, Natalie will recieve many cheezy love text messages on her cell phone, because Senegalese men are famous for that. Jill will be mistaken for a boy because she doesnt have her ears peirced; and they say that I will come home with at least one jekker =husband=.

Tommorow we have wolof lessons and more orientation. In the evening I move in with my family homestay; so that should be interesting. Arg; there are so so so many details I want to write; but im afriad of another power outage; so Ill stop for now.

Keep me informed about your lives; and if you comment on one of my posts; please sign it with your full name; because I cant tell your names all the time.

Jamm ak jamm, folks. Peace and peace.

Its going to be an incredible year.


Jonathan said...

Cathy, great to hear that you arrived! Cnn't wait to see some pic of where you are staying. We are praying for you!

Autumn Brooke said...

Cath! I'm so ridiculously excited for you!!!! YOU ARE IN AFRICA! YAY! I have a big ole sign right here by computer that says "Pray for Cath". Know that I'm continually praying for you and I head over heels love you!

live it.