Well, I made about 400 chocolate chip cookies in the past week, and I gave the last ones away yesterday so I guess that means it's time for me to leave Dakar. The past two weeks have been absolutely wonderful as I've spent time with all of the new friends I've made here. I've been eating incredibly well -- I think everyone wants to fatten me up before I go home. I've also received several gifts -- peanuts, jewelry, mangoes, etc. Even those who cannot afford to give have given, and their generosity is incredibly touching. Yesterday, I called one of my friends who sells wicker bags and asked her to bring one by the house for me to buy because I didn't have enough space in my pack with all of the gifts that I've received and purchased. She brought me a bag, along with more gifts. So sweet, though I'm not sure my Senegalese friends understand the concept of space and baggage limits.
My last day in Dakar was pretty perfect and beautifully captured so many of the things that will define Senegal for me:
-Soaking in sunshine and clear blue skies
-Walking through the sandy streets of my neighborhood, while several men put up a tent for this weekend's block party (which continued until the wee hours of the morning)
-Eating grilled fish and my favorite Senegalese sauce, yassa, at one of our cook’s homes
-Going to the market and negotiating with several vendors for 45 minutes just to buy a scarf for $2 instead of $3
-Taking car rapides (Dakar’s cheapest and most common form of transport) to go visit a friend and getting everyone on the car to help me get back 5 cents from the driver who had cheated me because I’m a toubab (as I always say, it’s not the money – it’s the principle!)
-Eating my second favorite Senegalese dish (niebes, or spicy beans) with a friend’s family and then all sharing fresh mangoes after
-Going out to see live music and stumbling upon a venue that was featuring Senegal’s most famous female singer, Viviane N’Dour
-Experiencing a power outage at above venue in the middle of the concert – as one friend appropriately remarked, “when you go out in Dakar, bring your lipstick and a flashlight…”
Of course, the day was also filled with wonderful conversations and goodbyes – “a la prochaine, insha’allah.” I tried to reassure my friends that I would be back in Senegal at some point. After all, I’m going back to Uganda right? There’s just something about the special people I’ve met this year that makes it hard to leave them behind.
Heading to Uganda in a few hours to reunite with my sister and then all my babies at the orphanage. Can’t wait to be “Auntie Cathy” again!
A la prochaine, insha’allah.