It Feels So Good to Be American; Wandering the Streets

Today was an excellent day. At breakfast, Mame Khady christened me “Kati” (Kah-TEE) for my Wolof name. After eating lunch at 2:30pm, around the bowl and with my hands, (“C’est samedi, le déjeuner est plus tard,” but regular lunches are never before 1pm so really everyone just always does everything late), and drinking attaya (Senegalese tea) at 3:15, I headed to the beach with my CIEE friends at 4.

Oh my goodness but it was such a relief to be an American again. To be able to express myself, to go into Casino and look at all of the Western products. I was reminded that even though I’m studying abroad and staying with a host family, my experience is still overwhelmingly American and that truly living in another country, alone, for example as a Peace Corps volunteer, is much, much harder.

The best part of the day was actually after we returned to our neighborhood, Sacré Coeur. Krista lives the furthest in, so Grace and I accompanied her home. Of course, none of us know our actual addresses, and all the roads are named “Sacré Coeur xxxx,” so it wasn’t long before Krista admitted she’d forgotten where she lived. We asked a random man sitting in front of his shop if he knew where the seamstress named Mame Ly lived, but he didn’t. A young girl passed and he asked for her help – as it turns out, her family was another student’s host family! The three of us surprised Kevin while he was at home, and his host brother helped Krista back home.

I was also just struck by the physical beauty of Sacré Coeur. While we were wandering about, we’d happened upon a huge soccer match in the streets, with about 50 kids just playing or watching, sitting on the walls or on the ground. The scene was so full of energy. After Krista went home, the sun began to set, and the sky turned pink. At one alleyway, both sides and the end of the alleyway were pink houses, and with the pink sky, my breath was just taken away. And finally when I came to my front door to find that it had been bolted shut, while I waited for someone to come, I paused and looked at the sky behind me. There were small gray rain clouds in a fiercely colorful sky.

I wish I’d remembered to put my memory card in my camera so that I could show you these things. I’ll take pictures tomorrow.

One final thing that I found funny: As I was walking alone, I said “Salaam Alekum” to some of the people I passed. I passed one little boy who sitting on the ground and staring at me, and I think he was so awestruck by my appearance that he could only mumble in return “Salaa.. lekum” (the correct response is “Malekum Salaam”). Gosh but he was super cute.

Dinner was at 22:00 (…) and was caramelized onions, creamy mashed potatoes, and very salty beef merguez sausages (and le pain of course). My host family keeps trying to feed me more but honestly at this point I’m tired of the salt+oil+carb combo and I’m really just craving some steamed broccoli.

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