¨Stranger, dont leave so soon.
Sit on the mat and drink tea with us.
Drink the first glass because it is bitter like the dry season. Drink and you will feel the wind that blows and heat that breaks the bones in your body.
Drink the second glass because it is gentle like the return of the rains. Drink and you will see the grass grow; the milk in the calabashes; your hunger satisfied.
Stay and drink the third glass because it is sweet like love.
Stranger, dont leave so soon. Sit on the mat and drink tea with us.¨
-Traditional Senegalese song
Its been a tough week.
We had some intense sessions on AIDS in Africa this week. The awesome director of the Baobab Center; Gary Engleberg, ran this session and really did a good job of making us all think. We did this simulation where we had to visualize all this loss and had to imagine the person we depend upon the most being dissappointed in us and leaving us forever. it was pretty intense, even for me who rarely cries. I held it in though. I just want to tell you, loved ones, that I love you no matter what decisions you make and no matter how far away I am. I may not always agree with you, but my heart is always with you. I am so blessed to have friends like you.
That was monday.
As you can see in my photos; we went to the Ile of Goree. It is about a 30 minute ferry ride from dakar. The little tiny island was a major hub of the slave trade from the 16th to 19th centuries, when slavery was officially outlawed by France in 1815. It is estimated that 15 to 20 MILLION slaves passed through that tiny island. There is one building there called the Maison das Esclaves where the new slaves would be herded and kept up to 3 months before being sold. We walked through the tiny rooms where hundreds of slaves would be stacked and my heart was just rendered apart. The injustice was so profound. The slaves would be chained together on the first floor; when the slave owners would party in their quarters on the second floor. Like I said; there is one door called the Port of no Return, where slaves would pass through to get on boats and leave forever. A few years ago the Pope stood in that door and appologized for the Catholic Churchs contribution to the slave trade. By law, if a slave girl became pregnant by a slave owner, she was officially freed back to the country of Senegal, so prostitution and rape were common on Goree. The island is now a beautiful, sunny tourist attraction with brightly colored houses and tropical flowers. The vendors there are especially vicious, but the cafes are peaceful and jazz is played everywhere.
Also, ever since last weekends crazy illness, I havent felt 100 percent. Thank God for Cold-Eez, even in Africa. I stayed in most nights and Have had stomache aches that take me back to my pre-Celiac-diagnosis days. I think I have a virus that moved from my head to my stomache. Im going to the doctor tomorrow morning when they open; and until then, Im popping Ibuprofen like mad. TIA, as the Senegalese say. This Is Africa. Ive just caught the Africa Syndrome.
Because of this, Ive been mentally and physically exhausted. Just general blah.
I still love africa; though; and wouldnt trade this for the world.
This morning our neighbor passed away. She was only 40 and left 2 kids. I was doing yoga on the terrace early this morning and I heard the wailing and ululations of the neighborhood women in the streets. When I left for school; everybody was sitting outside but the neighborhood was eerily silent. Even Moussa isnt his normal funny self. Muslim funerals move quickly- she is already buried- but the neighborhood is still pretty grey. Makes you think.
Im not loooking forward to leaving Dakar and my host family this sunday. They told me that Im adopted as a daughter and sister and that my new last name is Diallo. I think I should change my facebook.
I will certianly be back to visit; but Im not looking forward to starting all over in St. Louis. Its like the first day of college. Remember that day? It is the first day of college. After sunday I move 3 hours north of dakar to the Universite Gaston Berger de Saint Louis where my classes will officially commence and I will move into the dorms with a senegalese roomate. Itll be good to have more freedom again. We will also have our own computers so I will have a little more reliable internet access, so that means Skype Dates and Facebook albums galore.
Sorry; I dont mean to have this whole entry be a downer; but I just needed a little catharsis. Everything will be alright. I just need to get to the hospital.
Tonight was fun, some girls and I made batik cloths and mine turned out pretty rad. photos later. Ive also had some pretty interesting spiritual conversations and went to a great church service. Details later.
A shoutout to Maria, too, for getting through to me on my phone, if even for a minute.