I think that this afternoon might have been the most enjoyable one that I have had since coming to Dakar.
It started after school–I walked with some friends to a nail shop that a few other girls in the program have visited. The place is a hole in the wall–very close to literally. Most boutiques in Dakar look like they’re set up in a vacant garage of someone’s house (and this is true for many of them). This place looked like it was a vacant half-bath that someone had set up shop in. There was barely room for five people in the shop.
Inauspicious beginnings aside, I managed to get a totally excellent (and vaguely Toucan Sam-esque) polish change and nail shaping for 1000 CFA/$2. It was bonkers cheap, the people were nice, and at the end of it my hands were covered in glitter. There is nothing about that situation not to like.
But the other weird flipside of that is that people expect you to be able to be fairly immersed in your at-home life while you are abroad. This happens on both a social (“why haven’t you uploaded Facebook photos yet?”) and academic (“you need to register for classes/apply to the honors program/find your summer internship”) level.This has been a weirdly America-focused week for me. When people talk about the dangers of technology while going abroad, they seem to be focused on you withdrawing—staying on Facebook (or blogging, ahem) rather than engaging with wherever you are. This happens, of course, and I’m guiltier of it than most.
After a minor existential crisis earlier this week, I decided to pursue an honor’s thesis for the coming year. Because you’re required to file all of that paperwork before April, this has meant that I’ve spent a lot of this week writing in English, to other English-speakers, about things I’ll be doing when I’m back at home. Ditto with the very weirdly terrifying experience of asking someone whose work I really like if I could maybe possibly work for them this summer—which requires me being able to email them. Continue reading →
Unrelated to anything in this post, I have a new dress. (I'm the one that looks like Mrs. Frizzle on acid.)
So, my parents are in Dakar. It’s both delightful (I have missed them! They are staying in a swank hotel that looks like an Indiana Jones set!) and strange (They don’t speak French! Everyone thinks my dad is German for unknown reasons!).
Mostly, though, this trip has given me an insight into how little of downtown Dakar I have visited. This is not entirely due to my homebody ways–my program directors have managed to convince me that downtown is full of Riots, All The Time.
It turns out that that’s not true! (Knock on wood.) Mostly downtown Dakar is full of really good (if expensive) food and hilariously unsafe traffic. Also, there’s embassies. Like, twenty of them within a block of our hotel. I can’t tell if there was a meeting about it or if the tax rate in this part of town is great, but this place is internationally bouncing. Continue reading →
I could lie and say that I’ve quit updating as regularly because I’ve been off exploring Dakar, but that would be a complete lie. Mostly, my computer got knocked off a desk and its screen imploded, so that’s been putting a cramp in my style. Rather than using the extra time to learn Wolof/figure out how to barter at all successfully, I’ve been taking naps, reading, and talking to my host dad. It turns out that Dakar is a lot like the year that I moved to Atlanta, in terms of my active social life and propensity to take risks.
As an aside, yesterday my host dad told me that I need more friends. I may need to reevaluate some life choices here.
Life is not all incredibly boring, though! Last week, I went to the HLM market, the local source for all things fabricy, with a friend. (See, host dad!) I took the wax cloth that I bought to the tailor in order to have it whipped into garmenty shape, and I picked the dress up yesterday. The whole setup cost $17 (fabric plus labor), and fits wonderfully. Plus: fabric covered buttons and pockets. I think the tailor may have replaced the guy who works at the sandwich shop behind school as my favorite person I’ve interacted with this week. Continue reading →