the Senegalese experience|experiment

24 June, 2010

last(ing) impressions

I've realized that there are many things that I've left out of this blog, the majority of them things I promised to get to later. The reality is this: there is no way to encapsulate what I've experienced in mere words, at least not without a multitude of them. There's lots to talk about, still, with outlines sketched in my head and interesting titles picked out-- "transportation," "salutations," and "it's hard out here for a toubab." (I'm sure you can understand why that one's different.) Although I may never write these blog posts-- though I'd like to-- I'm sure I'll always have the basis for them in my head, floating around.

The object of this post is to give you some memories of mine, some souvenirs of Senegal. that didn't quite fit in anywhere else, but which I cherished all the same. I've changed quite a bit since I first landed in Dakar, watching the flashing lights of the ugly city arise from the ocean, fighting off Senegalese men for my luggage and praying that my French would be enough. If nothing else, my perceptions of the city have changed, as I descended into it instead of watching it from above. Windswept beaches and the boys who carve their track into the sand to make the rounds, round and round; barefoot soccer (seen, not played), kicking dirt into the still air; trash burning on the sidewalks, if there were sidewalks;

that moment of anticipation, eyes closed and face raised, clasping a sweet green mango; yassa poulet and mafe and cieb/ceeb/thieb, thiakry and ngalax; cafe touba (ak meew, bes bu nekk) and Gueye Gueye crackers; the strange shapes my mouth makes in Wolof that morph, gradually, into familiar patterns;

cold showers and hot rooms at midnight (no power-- third time this week); sun on my face as I lie face-up in the Atlantic Ocean; dirt on my feet, between my toes, as I pound the ground desperately trying to find the Senegalese beat; alhamdoulilah.

This was my life in Senegal, and remnants of it are with me now, and will be for a long time-- even though the obvious touches of power outages and sand sidewalks are gone. I thought about calling this post "conclusions," but I'm reluctant to say that this, really, is the end. If nothing else, the taste of the Casamance mangoes my papa brought back (US mangoes just can't compare) will always stay on my tongue. Let's leave the story open-ended, and shake left-handed. Ba beneen yoon, inch'allah.