Tuesday, July 5, 2011
Happy Birthday America
Before joining Peace Corps, I loved America. American history, politics, and the US itself fascinated me. Now, after living abroad for two years, my patriotism has reached new and fanatical levels. The United States of America is the best country on Earth.
We woke up this morning in Toubab Diallaw in order to celebrate another great birthday. Tamar turned 26 two days ago and American turned 235 today. What a week. Unfortunately, Senegal wasn’t about to give us a free pass to Dakar in order to let us start the celebration early. Even with stomachs full of delicious crepes we still arrived in Dakar famished and ready for more American style food since the 35 kilometer drive from Toubab Diallaw to Dakar took us almost three hours.
After quick showers and shoving as many clothes as we possibly could into the washing machine at the regional house, we packed into two cabs and headed off to the American Club. Most of the PCVs in country are down in Kedougou celebrating the 4th like we did last year, but in order to COS, de-myst my replacement, and be ready to leave when I wanted to it was impossible to travel all the way down to Kedougou so I’m in Dakar. The American Club was up to its patriotic best with a spread including hamburgers, fries, salad, grilled chicken, and fruit salad. I went for the hamburger which was made decidedly less American when the waitress slapped a fried egg on top of it before I could protest, but delicious nonetheless.
The American Club also provided entertainment. Very strange entertainment to say the least. There were Senegalese clowns for the children to play with and Jackie and Tamar were on this side of absolutely terrified. The clowns did acrobatic tricks, had marionettes, and did little skits for the kids. We were also all entertained especially when the clowns pulled April into the circle and forced her to perform tricks with them (see pictures). Regardless of creepy clowns, the American Club was a great stop. It provided exactly what we wanted: grilled hamburgers, gaudy 4th of July decorations, beer, and the national anthem played over terrible speakers. But, we didn’t let the fun end there…
Off to downtown Dakar we went to participate in another one of mine and America’s favorite pastimes: shopping. I cannot wait to go shopping. The thought of a trashy American mall (or a super nice one for that matter) makes my heart skip a beat. Sandaga, the main Dakar market, wasn’t exactly the fix I was craving but it had to do. The main purpose was to secure COS bracelets for the PCVs in my stage in the Dakar region. That was a fail, but Katherine, April, and I did find an amazing necklace/ bead store. The three of us fed off of each other’s almost manic shopping frenzy energy and had an amazing time working with the flamboyantly gay salesman. The store was a great find and Katherine and I continue to corrupt April (a first year PCV in our region) on artisanal products. We may or may not have made several additional stops as we wound our way out of the market. Shopping expedition success.
Still on our shopping high we rushed to NiceCream, which is the best ice cream place in Dakar. The mission: Obama Cookie. Obviously there is a flavor of ice cream named after Obama and obviously it is delicious and the perfect treat on the 4th of July. Obama Cookie ice cream is chocolate ice cream (duh) with cookies that I describe as Girl Scout Thin Mint cookies without the mint. It’s really good. Our 4th of July food triumphs do not end here! Another cab ride returned us to the regional house where we proceeded to whip up some Velveeta Mac & Cheese courtesy of Jo Ellen.
What is the most perfect way in the world to end such a representative of America 4th of July? It would be watching The American President on someone’s laptop surrounded by your friends who have been working on giving each other 235 high fives throughout the day to celebrate America!
God Bless America.