Writing dilligently on this thing has been hard due to all the coups d*electricite that happen at inconventient times. As always, Ill do my best. And Ill stop using this as my intro.
A buddhist guru monk came to stay at my house here for a few days. He is a friend of someone who stayed here previously and he was passing through on his way to visit her. Guruji Nakamura is from Tokyo and lives and works in India teaching music and meditation. Hes big into peace and he and Megan Alaska and I had some very interesting conversations about spirituality and peace proceses. He asked to read my palm and told me:
1. I will have a very long life, maybe 100 years.
2. my emotion line is very straight? meaning that Im very stable and level headed? almost stoic, but I use my heart a lot.
3. My destiny line is crooked and faint, meaning that I need someone strong to lead me in my life. He suggested that I find a strong man to take care of me.
Guruji also suggested mediation as a healing practice for some of my neuroses. I should take time for myself and do some deep breathing and yoga. Check. He gave me a chatelet, a string of beads like a rosary that people use as they meditate to channel movement. Sweet.
He is a musician he played his guitar and sang for us songs in English and Japanese. At one point; Megan and I were sitting in my room; singing Imagine by the Beatles with a Buddhist monk dressed in all the orange robes who had just flown in from a peace conference in Iceland. Trippy. Meg and I just looked at each other and said ¨Dude; Senegal is crazy. How did we find ourselves in this place?^
What else have I been up to?
Oh; we went out to a rad jazz club the other night. The Senegalese usually dont go out until about 12 or 1 am, so thats been hard for me. They sleep during the day; but I cant; so Im just fatigued when I go out. The young people sit around until they go out dancing etc. ANyway, we went to this little Jazz club called Pan Art and there was an AMAZING band playing. They started the night with straight up jazz, but then played everything from Marvin Gaye to Bone Thugs and Harmony to When the Saints Go Marching In to traditional Senegalese mbalax. It was so rad. We danced and left about 4 am. Going out in Senegal is like a 2 day affair. I can only do that every so often.
Because of the weird schedules; Nescafe instant coffee has become my best friend. I drink it at least 2 times per day because I cant eat the bread they eat for every meal, including breakfast. Breakfast I have nescafe and powdered milk. I have it again about 10 am during our break of Wolof class. If I go home for lunch I usually have rice and some kind of meat about 130 pm when the kids come home from school. If not, I go the local fruit stand and buy fresh mango or banana or I go to Casino Supermarche and buy something like a tomato and brie cheese or thiackry, a yummy yogurt millet thing like granola. Then I eat more rice and meat stuff or some times home meade french fries or cooked vegetables or peas and beef or my favorite, maffe, chicken with peanut sauce over rice for dinner about 9 pm. Like I said, we eat sitting on the floor around one big bowl with our hands. There are often 10 or more people eating around the bowl but we never run out of food. Its amazing, eating like that forces you to think about other people and feel satisfied easier. Everybody eats in their own little pie slice shaped space in the bowl and people eat quickly and rarely talk. No drinks are served during meals, but you can drink water afterwards. One of my fav traditions is the Attayah tea that I have sometimes after dinner. its such an affair to make the tea. There are 3 rounds. The first one minty and sweet, the second stronger; and the third one light and vrey very sweet. it sometimes takes an hour to make and drink all 3 becuase it is accompanied with a lot of socializing, like most things in Senegal.
We went to the Ecopole in the Rails quartier of Dakar the other day. THe Ecopole is a school where the young people can learn skills and to make handicrafts out of recycled materials in order to alleviate poverty. Rails is one of the most devastatingly poor sections of Dakar. There are pretty much cement shacks with tin roofs and sewage in the streets and cholera just waiting to happen. However the community is vibrant and alive there. It reminded me of Manila. We were hot and I was annoyed to be walking around these peoples neighborhood, looking at them like they were animals in a zoo. I had another epiphany there, though. Ive always known that I want to work in an international setting with refugees or peacekeeping and let people know they are loved. Ive thought about going into diplomacy or policy; and Id still LOVE to do that; but God pulled on my heart and said that whatever I do; I will have to return to the slums and work on the ground, not neccessarily in an office. In fact; I believe I have to live in these sort of conditions as well in order to integrate into the community. I cant see the displaced and poor as *us* and *them*, but rather *we*. Gosh, what the heck am I going to do with my life? Maybe become the Secretary General of the United Nations and live in the slums of Senegal. As long as I live by the ocean always.
Speaking of ocean, Ive fallen in love with surfing. Thats all I can say about it. Just think of me with a big smile on my face and bruises all over my body. Alxhamdulillah.
Also; shout out to Brenden for calling me today and actually getting through. Way to go! Way to figure out that phone card!
Okay all, you are loved. So much more coming later.