5 things you learn right away
- ‘That sound’ is the call to prayer. Five times a day. It will become the background music to this stage of your life.
- ‘That smell’ is incense. Or garbage. Or fish market. But probably all three.
- ‘That hand gesture’ means slow down, I’m going to cross the street here in front of your moving vehicle.
- ‘That feeling’ is your skin frying in the sun.
- ‘That thing’ in his mouth is a chew stick, a traditional toothbrush.
5 things you figure out quickly
- The going rate is probably half the first price given. Bargaining is expected.
- Making balls of rice to pop in your mouth as the oil runs downs your arm.
- Power cuts happen.
- How to say, “I have a husband.” in Wolof.
- Attaya packs a mean caffeine punch.
5 things you pick up along the way
- Tying a wrap skirt so that it stays on, but loose enough to walk in.
- The urge to shake people’s hand every time you walk into a room.
- Dressing more modestly.
- A more relaxed attitude about being on time, but higher value on time spent with people.
5 things you never fully master
- Walking with the elegance and fluidity of a Senegalese person.
- Fluency in four local languages, like everyone else.
- Dancing like THAT.
- Making ceebu jenn as wonderfully as the woman who taught you.
- Explaining life in Senegal to someone who’s never been here.