This morning I woke up before the birds, before sun and before my son in order to go downtown for third trimester lab work.

Tip I got from an expert: Get to Bio 24 before they open at 7:30am. Even just a few minutes can be the difference between third in line or fifteenth.)

I’m not a morning person to begin with, so starting my day off with a massive glucose syrup chug on an empty stomach and having veins poked didn’t really brighten my day. But the glucose nastiness went down and stayed down, so I settled in with a good book (thanks, Karin!) and spent two hours in the waiting room watching in amazement as Senegalese women came and left, all impeccably and fashionably dressed. Boubous, taille-basses, Western looks with African touches, scarves and headwraps, wax and bazin… Amazing, creative and beautiful. It was a lovely distraction from my simultaneous nausea and stomach growling.

Two hours and one more vein poke later, I wobbled my way outside and got in a taxi headed for home and real food.

Not so fast. “Madame, I’m just going to pull over here and get a coffee…” It was more of a statement than a question, and I figured why pick a fight with a man who hasn’t had his caffeine yet. “Amul problème. Café amna solo,” I answered. After all, coffee is important. He laughed and hollered his order from the car window to a guy named Abdoulaye. (Apparently my taxi driver was a regular at this Nescafé stand.)

Abdoulaye delivered the two steaming cups to the car and the driver carefully placed one in the console cupholder and handed me the other one. “For you, Madame.”

Dakar Starbucks
Dakar Starbucks

Now if you’ve never had coffee from a Nescafé cart in Senegal, let me explain what goes into it: Nescafé granules + hot water + sugar + sugar + sugar. It’s basically coffee-flavored glucose syrup.

It was a very sweet gesture. Pun intended.