I’ve found that the best cure for culture shock is a bit of that which bit you.
I remember a few years ago in the midst of a deep, deep culture shock crisis, I decided to lock myself in my room with comforts from the US: snacks, magazines, DVDs and Dr Pepper. My plan was to stay there until I’d had 12 straight hours without having to deal with life in Africa.
After three full days, I’d managed only one six-hour stretch without some sort of power cut, kids knocking at the door, someone wanting to sell me peanuts, hot water heater not working, etc… So I gave up and gave in. I went to go hang out in a friend’s courtyard, surrounded by Africa. (As they say in Wolof, “Nit mooy garabu nit”. People are people’s best medicine.) And it worked. In just a few hours, I was back to enjoying and appreciating life here.
So I had a bit of the hair of the dog after my ‘ticket day‘ earlier this week. It wasn’t my choice, but it worked.
Last night at about 7pm, Cheikh asked, “Are those generators I hear?” Click, click. Yup – power’s off. The whole neighborhood was humming and buzzing as people cranked up their generators.
Our apartment building doesn’t have a generator, so I just turned up the speed on making dinner before it got too dark to see. Cheikh busted out the rechargeable lights and candles, I put Pape down to bed, we ate dinner. Then I sat in the living room with a cup of chai and the candle flickering. I could have used a rechargeable light to do something productive or worked on my laptop, but it was nice to just sit.
If the power had been on, I would have found plenty of things that ‘needed’ to be done. Instead I let Africa slow me down to its rhythm. Hair of the dog. Works every time.