CIEE Dakar, Senegal
I slipped on my Birkenstock sandals to walk the forty-five minutes to the university in Dakar. It
wasn't overwhelmingly hot, so I didn't bargain for a taxi ride. Sometimes I wish I had taken taxis
more often, as haggling for prices with the drivers was always an adventure, and taxis were
sometimes the greatest places to practice my Wolof language. The drivers were always
impressed when I had memorized a Senegalese proverb, and told me that I was truly becoming
Senegalese. The comment to follow was inevitably, Am nga jekker? or, Do you have a husband?
Every American girl needs a Senegalese husband. Although taxi rides were exciting and
humorous, walking to class had its own leisurely appeal.
The first stop was the boutique. I bought a bottle of filtered water for the day - I never went
anywhere without one - and I picked up some breakfast. There weren't many options for
breakfast in Senegal: half a baguette with my choice of butter, chocolate spread, or fish paste. I
opted for the butter, because, believe it or not, no matter how wonderful chocolate on bread
sounds for breakfast, it gets old after a few months; and the fish paste? Not a chance. I also
bought a bottle of superglue to repair the plywood shelf I broke in my bedroom, and one envelope
- not a box full - to send a letter home.
As I ate and began to cross the major road near my host family's house, a thin shepherd and his
herd of at least thirty massive bulls and cows thundered by me. I wasn't sure if the shepherd was
leading them or if they were leading him, but they navigated the main thoroughfare just as well as
I did. As I continued down the road, I saw the progress of several construction sites, where men
used pulleys and levers to bring cement and handmade cinderblocks up to the higher stories of
soon-to-be new homes. Haggard horses pulled carts with buckets of water and raw materials.
I walked past the Red Cross building, marking th