I started off today with a warm run from Sacré Coeur to Ouakam at 6am. I’m still not used to how sweaty I get. You know you’re overheating when you take a cold shower but the water dripping down your face afterwards is hot. More troubling is how the cloudiness at ground level is not fog nor smog, but straight exhaust. I’ve got to start getting down to the beaches for some better air. I’ll find a way. The post-run feeling is worth it!
In the evenings, a few classmates and I have a workout group going on the CIEE rooftop terrace. This group gives me another space to sweat like it’s nobody’s business. Yesterday I led a kickboxing session. It was difficult because a) I’d never taught kickboxing before b) no one else had taken kickboxing before c) there was no music to keep time, but I think it went okay!
I’m going to make a more concerted effort to find fruits and vegetables and to avoid the white carbs here. It’s not too hard when I’m at school because the cafeteria does have some fresh lettuce and tomatoes, but today I tried eating a can of spinach for breakfast and… canned spinach is different from fresh spinach.
Since I eat so light at school, I’m actually glad for the heavy Senegalese meals I have for dinner. The only complaint I have is that dinner is never served before 9, but hey, it’s part of the culture.
I’m getting closer with my family. Marie’tou smiles at me when I greet her and yesterday I talked with Mame Khady about her views on Casamance’s bid for independence. I’ve also finally realized that the maids, especially Fatou, don’t understand French any better than I do, which is a relief since I was wondering why what I’d say would seem so unintelligible! Here’s where learning Wolof is coming in handy!
I’m even getting closer with my neighborhood. This morning on my way to school, a little girl beamed Bonjour! up at me, and I beamed Bonjour! and Salaamaalekum! back at her. Even her mom smiled at me, which made my day. I’ve also started making acquaintances with the many guards on my street and there is one who has started to jokingly call me his belle petite amie (beautiful girlfriend) every time I walk by. As long as he doesn’t propose marriage to get an American Visa, it’s pretty funny.
Insects: To avoid further mosquito bites, I need to step it up with the permethrin and long pants. Also lately I’ve been seeing baby cockroaches around the house…
Sun: I’m dutifully wearing hats but I have tan lines on my shoulders already.
Illness: People around me are all falling down with a virus but I’ve been feeling 100% so far. I hope I can keep it this way!
Mental: The third week is supposed to be “breakdown” week or the low point but I must have hit that last week, because I’m even beginning to establish routines here. Makes this place feel ever more like a home!