After five years in Dakar, I am adventuring into a new area. We’ve navigated the murky waters of finding a place to live, reworking the water system so that we actually get water, regularizing the electricity (hello, 250 volts!) and installing a back-up system for power cuts, having clothes made by tailors of varying skill levels, recovered and re-upholstered furniture with good to hysterical success and collaborated with an ironworker to add bars on every opening of our apartment.

So what’s left?

Carpentry. That is my next frontier. I’ve managed to avoid it so far, but after buying multiple secondhand pieces that just don’t work in our kitchen, it’s time to call on a professional and muddle my way through in Franco-Wolof and bargaining in the dark with my fingers crossed for Pinterest-worthy end results.

My parents are here visiting so I am drawing on their years of experience in Africa and working with carpenters in Côte d’Ivoire to help me. As part of this, my dad just drew me this ‘free advice’ diagram that I realized would have been very helpful to have tattooed on my arm or cross-stitched on a throw pillow as an ever-present reminder starting five years ago.

“In the world of craftsmen and artisans, you have the choice of work that is fast, cheap or good. You may have two of these, but not all three. Make your choice and live with it.”

Merry Christmas. Enjoy the freebie.

(And wish me luck. Carpenter recommendations welcome!)