Spring Breakdown

So, remember that time when I went to Barcelona for spring break, but then it wasn’t spring break at all and I just bailed on a week of classes? Well, fun fact, it’s actually spring break now! I have elected to stick it out in Dakar because a) I hate sept places and b) I’m saving up my broke-being for my trip to Paris in May. So, I’ve been kicking around with a group of girls in Dakar, instead.

We started the week off on Tuesday (Monday, being the day after Easter, is a national holiday, and so was dedicated to writing papers) with a trip to the West African Research Center. While there, I took advantage of the sweet, sweet wifi and copy edited a friend’s cover letter to Linden Labs. I also managed to obtain the first of the approximately 87 blisters I from this week on the walk over to WARC.

After we finished researching/creeping on Paris housing rentals, we walked to a nearby pizza place. They were having their fabulous Tuesday promotion, in which you could get two large pizzas for $12. We ordered that, and so were surprised when they brought us four pizzas. We waited for a few minutes to see if they were going to come back for them, but they didn’t. Being unethical and also hungry, we chowed down, and each managed to eat pretty much an entire three dollar pizza. Fulfilling American stereotypes is delicious.

During lunch, a man selling pirated DVDs came by. Several were purchased, including American Terrorist Film and Time Cop. We attempted to watch these in the evening, but eventually gave up for the wiles of French-language Titanic (which I have still never seen in English). Weeping and Celine Dion were had.

Wednesday, we started the morning at the French Institute. This involved very strong winds, multiple, “This is not a real place,” comments (the gardens of the institute are kind of unreal), and—in the case of at least one of our party members—a mojito for brunch. I had a relatively tame hot chocolate and chocolate croissant, and we meandered about soaking in culture/trying to figure out if there was wifi.

Our fake-Frenching being over, we walked across the plateau to the national art gallery. Our attempts at culture were foiled by it being closed for unknown reasons. Irritated, we ducked in to the cable TV boutique next door and asked for directions to the big IFAN museum downtown. This process took longer than it should have due a) the desk worker’s confusing the Monument to the African Renaissance with the museum, despite them being very much not the same thing and b) her insistence that we didn’t speak French, but at the end of it a kindly customer walked us over to Dakar’s central plaza and directed us to the museum.

Unfortunately, this museum was also closed—this time, there was someone there to confirm this fact. Apparently they’re putting in a new exhibit, and the museum will re-open in May. Why the whole museum is closed for this (and for several months) I have no idea, but we were hot and be-blistered and just accepted it.

We wearily slumped towards the bar of a nearby hotel (the one which my parents were at when they visited), and each had an overpriced beer/soda of our choosing. There was a cathartic few hours of talking about frustrating host family experiences, and eventually we finished up and made our way to Ceaser’s (the downtown American-weird diner) for more pizza. In case anyone wants to know how I managed to absorb none of the cultural events in town during my time here, this day is why.

Thursday, we went to Yoff for a spa day on the recommendation of one of the program student’s expat friend-of-a-friend. The place was great—well-lit, with friendly staff (who kept giving us expresso/tea/cigarettes/orange juice—and, for one of our group, access to the owner’s house to use the bathroom) and low, low prices.

I got a manicure (beige with sparkles, which is basically nail code for “I’m a buttoned-up kind of crazy”) and an hour-long massage that’s getting its own entry for being insane. The whole shebang cost me $40, which—despite my host sister-in-law insisting I overpaid—seemed totally fine and was accompanied by the surreal experience of watching dubbed-over episodes of the terrible MTV show Parental Control.

Post-spa, we went to the Yoff beach for all of two minutes. We left quickly due to us noticing that a) the beach was covered with dead, foot-long pufferfish and b) there was a naked man approaching us.

So, dodge was gotten the hell out of, and we headed to the toubob haven of Sea Plaza—the weirdly swank mall with oceanfront views. I got a fajita platter, which was the first tortillas I have had since January and which was pretty much amazeballs.

Tomorrow will involve cranking out another ten pages or so of terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad papers, but for the moment I think I can say that spring break was its own weird little brand of success.

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