The prayer calls this morning in Tamba were beautiful, despite coming at 5am and all at once. I’m nostalgic-in-advance for waking up before dawn on the roof of the Tamba house, warm under a blanket, listening to five competing versions of “ALLAAAAAHU AK-BAR!” echo across town. It’s one of those Senegal Moments, like biking back to the village at sunset, that encapsulates the romance of Peace Corps for me.
My sept-place ride today, on the other hand, was something other than romantic. I was stuck in the middle of the way-back seat while the car raced over the newly “repaired” road to Dakar. And while we made good time to Kaolack because we didn’t have to swerve constantly to avoid massive craters in the road, my nose itched the entire way because of the vibrations from going over a grid of asphalt patches with a distinctly lacking suspension.
Then, the good time was squandered in Kaolack when we stopped for an hour so mechanics could take one of the wheels off then put it back on—using three out of four bolts, even. All was not lost since I bought a giant slice of watermelon for the equivilant of 5 cents and ate it while waiting on the side of the road. Watermelon is one of the foods that I would have turned down or picked out of my meal back home that I voraciously devour here, what with fruit being a rare treat and onions being the primary vegetable in village food.
After eight hours on the road we made it to Dakar, which is still big and stressful, but much less so now that I have an American home away from home to stay at. A thousand blessings upon the head of every ex-pat who takes in dirty, smelly Peace Corps volunteers and gives them a clean bed to sleep in, good food to eat, and a precious reminder of home.
I’m in Dakar to meet my parents, who are currently en route for their first visit to Africa. We’ll do some tourist stuff—Goree, the bird park in Djoudj, St. Louis—then head to my village for a few days before celebrating Christmas in Tamba.