Tuesday November 24th: Day 1 Dakar
Getting to Dakar was an adventure. Jackie and I left Thies with ridiculously amazing chicken sandwiches, which we bought from a vendor at the garage, in hand and navigated to the correct garage in Dakar. Seemless, but from there it went to hell. The taxis were attempting to charge us 3 times the normal fare so a very nice woman told us a rickety bus was going in our direction which was only 100CFA while the cab was going to be 3000CFA. Needless to say, we were pretty pleased with ourselves until my life flashed before my eyes as our bus stalled on an on-ramp, then the driver proceeded to reverse through three lanes of traffic, and then drop 2 feet on to the shoulder which was precariously close to a sewage ravine. Jackie and I locked eyes as the bus jilted to one side and made peace with death, but the bus remained upright although broken and now in a trench. We exited the bus, ran behind a nice man through 4 lanes of highway traffic (with huge backpacks), and got in another bus and finally made it to the regional house in Dakar. Katherine and Tamar thought we died, but we eventually made it. A little adventure and near death experience never hurt anyone.
The regional house has real showers so that was pretty much priority number 1 for me after sweating on public transportation for several hours. I jumped in and noticed that there were two knobs on the shower. The two knobs registered in my mind, but their meaning did not... I therefore took a cold shower while all of my friends took warm showers because they're smarter than me and remembered that the red knob means hot water... Don't worry, the rest of my showers were warm. It was awesome.
Our first night we satisfied my main craving: Chinese food. We knew a popular restaurant to go to, we had the phone number, the directions, and a cab, but we couldn't get there. If our cab driver hadn't been amazing and spoken to the restaurant for several minutes on the phone I would have been deprived of the pan fried noodles, Szechuan tofu, and calamari I inhaled. It was an interesting experience since the waitress didn't speak French, Wolof, or English... only Chinese. It was point and hope for the best and it turned out delectable.
Wednesday November 25: Day 2
We went to the office in the morning. I'm now vaccinated against swine flu and the regular flu.
From the office we walked to Casino, which is a Western style grocery store where I was struck with how amazing a full service grocery store truly is. Instead of making me homesick for what I could have at home, the grocery store made me incredibly happy and I perused every single aisle with my mouth open in wonder and desire. We left the grocery store with dark chocolate, Brie, and WHOLE WHEAT BREAD. The cheese and the bread was delicious. After so much white bread the whole wheat was a real treat especially with the cheese. We devoured it at the American club with salads!
We also went out in Dakar for the first time, which was really fun. A few Gazells/ Flags (Senegalese beers) always put you in a good mood and it's the biggest bar night of the year in the States so it was a show of American solidarity.
Thursday November 26: Day 3
Happy Thanksgiving! And happy birthday Aunt Cindy!
I was surprised at how emotional I got especially since I hadn't allowed myself to think about missing my first major holiday. It turned out to be an amazing day.
The US Ambassador invited the PCVs to her house for dinner, but we were called upon to make the side dishes. I obviously signed up to make Shirley's famous mashed potatoes which turned out perfection and which every said were really good. We made them at the head of the SED program's house along with another treat...the funfetti cupcakes my mom sent me! All of my friends were pumped about the cupcakes even though the Halloween theme was a little late. It's not easy to find an oven here... We all agreed the making some food on Thanksgiving was cathartic and really fun. It made it feel more like Thanksgiving, having a lot of women in the kitchen, even though it was an incredibly hot day outside. It's easy to trick yourself into not believing it's the holiday season when the weather is so opposite to what I would expect at home.
The Ambassador's house was wonderful. I got to see a bunch of PCVs from all over the Dakar region and the Ambassador had festively decorated the house with fall colors and Thanksgiving paraphernalia, which actually made it feel like Thanksgiving at home. The turkey was good, the potatoes AMAZING (if I may say so myself), and I was incredibly impressed with all the other PCVs resourcefulness and cooking skills. It was no Thanksgiving at home, but it was wonderful and very fun. I heard that Sarah made Mexican dip and a delicious blueberry crisp so that's almost impossible to beat.
Dakar was very, very fun. It was great to see other volunteers and Tamar. Back to Thies for Tabaski!
Ps. New Pictures are up!
Messy, but Warm
10 months ago