Sunday, November 18, 2007

Camping in the back of a truck

This past weekend, Jill, Claire and I decided to go camping, on a whim. Jill said that she found a sweet camp grounds outside of town, and that you could rent huts for cheap. We took a taxi about 20 km out of town and arrived at Zebrabar on Saturday afternoon. Zebrabar is located on a nature reserve in St Louis, so its extremely beautiful and tranquil, surrounded by rivers that meet the ocean. Its very eco friendly. Most of the place is run on solar energy. Its strange and sad that a lot more of Senegal doesnt use solar. There were a few toubabs there, and even one girl from my university on Wisconsin, who is volunteering in Senegal until January. All the places were booked except a Magirus, which was cheap, so we decided to take it. It turns out that a Magirus is the back of a truck that they converted to be a room to sleep in. The owners of the place, an exotic Swiss couple, were so nice and they cooked a delicious barbeque that night with seasoned steak and salads and pasta and pumpkin cake and watermelon. The girls and I just walked around and hung out on the bank of the river. Claire and Jill brought their Ipods and speakers, so we sat looking at the West African meteor shower and listened to Beck's Sea Change and Iron and Wine and talked into the wee hours of the morn. We're devising our plans to go to Morocco for spring break. Those ladies are so quality. I havent laughed that hard in a long time.

The next day, we slept in and then had a delicious breakfast of fresh baked bread and mango preserves and 2 minute eggs and (real!) coffee and apples under the awning. It was glorious. Being in Senegal, eating the same rice and meat and oily sauce and powdered milk and coffee every day has made me appreciate food so much. I think, when Im back in the states or have the means, Im going to buy small amounts of quality food and really enjoy it. One delicious bar of quality chocolate instead of a million Recces peanut butter cups; preserves instead of jelly; a sweet potato instead of chips; a glass of rose wine instead of soda; a salad (!!) with goat cheese instead of other crap; and fruit fruit fruit all the time. Fruit is so expensive here because everything has to be imported. Senegal is making me value different, random things.

Anyway, after breakfast we took a walk through the bird park, and saw suprisingly few birds. We did see one enormous gila monster, though! It had to have been at least a meter long and it came running out of the brush. We checked out of the truck around 1 and after the patron added up our bill, it came out to be about 5 dollars for each of us, not including the cost of food. Holla! What a great mini vacation!

We were walking to the nearby town to catch a taxi and this friendly German couple pulled over in their intense land rover and offered us a ride downtown. Of course I thought about all my parents teachings about never accepting rides from strangers, for a second. They were so nice though and I learned a lesson about altruism from them. they have been traveling all around west africa for the sake of traveling and they wouldnt accept any money or anything from us in return, just conversation. Ill pay that forward someday. Senegal is making me value the important things.

Also, today I walked to the Dunes with my friend Omar. Man, it was so so beautiful! There are these huge cliffs of red sand and baobab trees that stretch across this desert oasis. It was a great memory. So, this was a killer weekend, nice and relaxing, but here comes a big week!

Classes are picking up, petit à petit. The Political Science classes just started this week, so that means my schedule changes completely again. I have to choose classes from that department. Arg. Classes here are run in the old French system, meaning many of them are dictated. Literally; the professor will stand in front of the class and read his notes saying, for example,¨In nineteen-sixty, comma, Senegal acheived its independance, period.¨and the students have to frantically copy exactly what he says. This is tough in french, and I have to fight to concentrate on every word.
Im also going to be looking for an internship at an NGO this week. This is going to be a busy one. Weve decided to have a little Thanksgiving feast for our senegalese friends. All the Americans are going to cook something and tell everybody why were thankful for them. I think I might make French toast because its easy and Americany. Ive never seen French toast in France.

Words of Wisdom this week: ¨Well, you cant eat wheat...but at least you can go on a waterslide!¨-Mame Diara Ngom, age 5

That is the right perspective.


Words of comfort this week: Psalm 77:19 - Your path led through the sea, your way through the mighty waters, though your footprints were not seen.


Me, Jill, and Claire in front of our truck home
















On top of the 12 meter watchtower that looks over the Senegalese savanah.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

very nice. Love ya. Mom