My brother’s family arrived in Dakar yesterday. It takes all my restraint not to use 17 exclamation marks after that sentence because not only do I love him and his girls, his wife is one of my best friends. (He chose her so well, even without my help!)

As we were sitting at the airport (and by that I mean literally sitting on a curb outside the iron bars that keep exiting travelers from being mobbed by taxi drivers and phone card vendors) waiting for them to arrive, I started thinking about the things we do here to prepare for visitors that are a bit different.

  • Make sure we have plenty of bottled water on hand and put a bottle in the guest bathroom for teeth brushing.
  • Start looking for chickens to order two weeks in advance in case the farmers I like to buy from are out of stock. (They were.) Also order sandwich bread since it’s baked once a week.
  • Charge up our spare cheapo phone for them to borrow and be sure it has an active SIM card and phone credit.
  • Wash all the very, very dusty curtains and bedspreads (which we use as daytime dustcovers and take off at night when we sleep).
  • Borrow car seats, a stroller and a pack n play for the little ones.
  • Make a list of all the beaches and pools we want to take them to.
  • Buy fresh corn on the cob and okra and melons and green beans because they are in season here in February!