Monday, April 26, 2010

some days / senegalese super-etoiles

Some days are harder than others.  Recently, however, I've had several difficult days in a row.  Not that anything "bad" has happened to me, but I seem to lack the combination of patience and curiosity that buoyed me these past few months, and without it, I'm just sad and filled with thoughts of home.

At this point in the semester, I have the ability to go anywhere, to do whatever I choose: I can bargain in Wolof, I know how the car rapides work, I know what to expect in a market.  I have the confidence and comfort level, but I just plain don't have the energy, the desire, to get out and do something very new.  This malaise is hard to admit, especially knowing that I have less than a month here, and I ought to be taking advantage of everything, racing around to cover all that I might not have done or seen or tasted.

There's also the problem of not being able to do anything alone.  Go to the market alone and get mobbed by vendors, and without a friend to consult with, you might buy something at too expensive a price.  Go to the bar or restaurant alone and you might get approached by a young man--even your waiter--who will want to know your name and where you live and why you don't have a boyfriend.  Go to the beach and you will be approached by more young men, or maybe trampled by soccer players.  We're advised not to take a taxi or car rapide alone at night, because you can't guarantee that you'll make it out with all the contents your purse.  And if you want to venture further, to Toubab Dialo or Ile des Madeleines, you'll probably be approached by more men and daunted by the expense of travel.  And to walk around the city--well, it's just hot.

All this, in short, makes me miss home--or even France, where this past summer I wandered around the cities of Toulouse and Paris without feeling harassed or in danger in any way.  And I'm not alone in feeling a little depaysee (again, shameful lack of accents); other students are finding themselves in the same situation.  What to do?  What to do?

For lack of a "cure," here's something fun: Senegalese music videos.  This is Youssou Ndour, probably the biggest Senegalese pop star ever, and maybe the most famous African singer alive today.  Read about his political power here.  This is the video of his hit "Salagne Salagne."

But, really, life is good here.  I have fantastic friends and a fabulous family.  (Upcoming blog post: how wonderful my host family in Dakar is.)  I am very, very lucky.  That's why feeling this way is inexcusable, even inexplicable.  But it should be getting better, a little better, all the time.

1 comment:

  1. Dounia, I completely agree with you.

    I find myself wanting to stop people in the street and ask, "How do you LIVE here?" I know how to get by and feel relatively safe but I do not know if and how I could actually live here in Dakar. And it does not help that I feel incredibly guilty about these sentiments, especially since I have had a similar experience having such an amazing host family.