Monday, January 4, 2010

Day 1 and 2 - L'arrivé

Day 1 and 2 - Arrival

Upon leaving, or trying to leave JFK, one of the pilots was about an hour late to getting to the plane. The plane that he was arriving on had passengers that were supposed to leave on our plane, so we sat on there for about 2 extra hours until boarding. I was lucky (and I mean this sincerely) to sit next to the cutest baby girl. Her mother lives in the United States, but is originally from Dakar. This is the little one’s first trip to Senegal, just shy of one year.

After sitting on the plane for 2 hours, then sitting on the plane for a 6-hour flight (with an abundance of turbulence) it was time to sit in a tiny little taxi for the four-hour drive to Saint-Louis. Yours truly was the unfortunate pickle in the middle in the second seat. You have no idea how happy I was to stand up and stretch at the en of the car ride. However there were a total of 8 people in this cramped vehicle. I passed out for most of the trip, but woke up for the last hour or so to see the scenery. I did not get carsick, which is surprising, because there was a lot of exhaust coming into the car, and from the other cars. But the windows were all open so there was a good breeze.

Saint-Louis arose over the horizon, and there was a strong scent of salt water. I was immediately dropped off with my host family, and was provided with a familiar breakfast of Nescafe, bread, and laughing cow cheese. The house, food (so far), and atmosphere is similar to that of the Moroccan family that I stayed with while in Fez. I think that experience will do a good job of preparing me for this home stay.

The family speaks entirely in French, and while I do not understand all the words, I am able to pick up the meaning of the sentences. For example, after eating le petite déjuené (breakfast), I told my host mother that I was tired (in French of course). And she rattled something off in French, but after a second of processing, I realized she told me to go lay down. So, there is hope for me with this whole French thing.

Anyway, I crashed for a while, then unpacked. For now, I think I will start reading the books that I have brought. Here is my reading list: Finish “A year of living biblically,” start and finish “Three cups of tea” and “The end of poverty.” I also have the tour guidebook, which has a lot of information about Senegal and the Gambia including history, culture, and other fun facts.


  1. Good luck with the French! Is it comforting that it is somewhat like Morocco (so far)? Or do you wish that it was an entirely new/strange experience? I hope all is well and that you're over your jet lag, etc! Have fun!

  2. yesterday.. i put up a big long comment, but i guess it didn't post.

    anyway, to answer your question kate, i am glad that it is somewhat like morocco. it is in ways that i'm not at extreme culture shock. there are a lot of things that took adjusting too in morocco, and when i got here, i was comfortable. but then there are things that are very new for me. for example, it's rude to not greet someone in the street. so i never know when i should say hello and when i shouldn't. before, in morocco, i would never say hello to anyone unless i was interested in buying something from their shop or i knew them. but here, if i don't say hello, it's rude. so i say hello, and make sure that i keep walking, and if they want to walk with me, that's fine. but it's a balance.

    another difference is that in morocco, everyone is arab. here everyone is black. the clothes are very different too. it's a mix between muslim and western fashion here. and in morocco, it was more modest muslim clothes, or the traditional wear for both men and women. but here the fabrics are bright colors. it's really neat.

    so.. hopefully that answers your question!