Friday, October 23, 2009

And I will walk 500 miles…

October 21, 2009

Yes, I got lost again. I woke up early this morning to go to the Orange store to pay for my internet connection. I thought this was going to be an easy trip so I jumped on my bike and headed off. Immediately I could tell that my bike’s back tire was pretty flat, but I continued on thinking the Orange office wasn’t too far and I could ride on a paved road the whole way. I made it almost half the way there without any problems other than people laughing and pointing at me. Is there anything more ridiculous than a toubab wearing a helmet while riding a bike? I think not. Anyway, I’m halfway to the store and my chain falls off. I get off to inspect the damage. First of all, I don’t like bikes. Second of all, I have a brother studying engineering and a boyfriend who’s an engineer for a reason. I don’t do things like fix bikes. I attempt to put the chain back on and am surprising successful. I peddle another ten feet and my bike stops again. Now this weird rubbery band has broken and is twisted around the chain. Some Senegalese kids come to “help” me aka look at my bike, touch it, and then ask for money. I sense that attempting to fix the damn bike on the side of the road is an exercise in futility so I decide to walk my bike the rest of the way to the store.

I’m at the Orange store for two hours attempting to sort everything out. There was an added degree of difficulty involved because I was paying for one of my friends who doesn’t have an Orange store in her town. Regardless, flush wish success and an internet modem I left the store with 30 minutes to get back home, grab my stuff, and meet Chris at the roundabout before heading off to the office. I know 30 minutes isn’t enough time so I text Chris 45. HAhahahaha. Joke. Flash-forward an hour and a half later, after I have pushed my bike through the roads (read sand dunes) of Thies looking for my house. Going to the Orange store I used the main, paved roads because I was riding my bike. I rode ¾ of a square because the ¼ of the square that almost directly connects my house and the main road is sand and twists through the neighborhood. Against my better judgment I decided to attempt to navigate within the neighborhood since it should’ve been faster than walking my bike back the ridiculously long way. This was an epic failure and resulted in a very nice Senegalese boy about my age coming up to me and telling me that I was lost. I thought about bluffing my way through the situation, but it was too true and he knew it. I told him where I lived and he proceeded to laugh at me because I had walked all the way through my quartier and into the next one completely bypassing my house. I then proceeded to give him terrible directions and we overshot my house by most of the quartier. It only took this very nice man and Chris to get me back home… pushing my bike all the way.

Now, it’s 10am. OMG. And I need to take nap, but Chris and I set out for our counterparts office where I have to apologize for being late and explain that I had taken an epic journey already this morning. The three of us then visited 5 potential work partners. I cannot explain how exhausting this was. They were all women’s groups doing various things, but everyone spoke in extremely rapid French or even worse, Wolof and I was completely overwhelmed. My counterpart pretty much told everyone I was free labor so everyone wanted my number and wanted to know when I’m coming back to help. I’m glad there’s a lot of work, but my brain was about to explode. It’s so tiring trying to listen, digest the information, speak, and try to make some preliminary decisions. I’m really happy that my counterpart is introducing me to so many people, but it is overwhelming. Once he’s done taking me around it’s really up to me to narrow down the projects I want to work on. I’m going to start attending some of the organizations’ meetings and on Monday I’m going to attempt to teach some teachers at a preschool how to use computers. By computer class, I mean teaching these women how to press the start button and click on the mouse. It should be interesting. I need to read/ learn French computer terms this weekend.

There was no rest for the weary as my counterpart dragged us through the Senegalese desert introducing us. We even had lunch together at a little ceeb shack. We had ceebu jenn and it wasn’t nearly as good as the food that I have at my house so I was a little disappointed. I thought I would be released from the purgatory that was walking around during the middle of the day, but my work partner forced us back to the office… where we took a nap. Yes, we went back to the office and my boss pulls out mats for us and we were supposed to rest for a while at the office. Totally normal. And weird. After our nap we went to the mayor’s office which was pretty cool and then I was allowed to go home.

In my haze of dehydration and complete exhaustion I decided to go to the post office and get my own post office box to make things easy for me. The new address is up, but don’t worry if you have something in the mail I can still go to the center and get other mail it just might take a little longer since the secretary doesn’t check as regularly when we aren’t at the center. I then spotted the second toubab grocery store across the street and decided I needed a treat.

I found something that rivals Biskrem. I didn’t think it was possible, but my new obsession is frozen vanilla yogurt in a bag. It’s magnificent and called Yogo Glace and it’s only 100CFA and Biskrem is 250CFA. Score. I slurped it into my mouth in all its frozen glory. It was delicious and I only had 4 children ask me to give it to them while I was eating. Not bad. In case you didn’t know everything comes in a bag here. If it’s a semi-solid or liquid you can get small quantities in bags.

The rest of my day was pretty anticlimactic. I took a little me time to read in my room and spent some time watching terrible tv with my family. I still ate at the table with my dad while using a knife and fork, which is weird, but it’s fine.

Tomorrow is another day. I need rest. I also hope I don’t get lost… again.

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