January 30, 2011


When astrological bodies collide, the explosion is catastrophic. When my Senegalese world collided with my American world, it was seamless, save one traumatic experience with a dish called sake sake. Brother Aaron and girlfriend/fiancée/wife Sadie, whose status changed depending on my mood and energy level needed to explain their relationship in culturally sensitive terms, came to visit me!

They came for a short visit; nine days in Senegal never went so fast. I am overwhelmed with the fact that they would take the time and money to come see me in my village, where they can speak to no one, understand nothing, and let’s face it, there’s no tourist draw in Barkedji, Senegal.

I had an amazing time. Plus I am over the burning desert sun that people from my real life came and got a small taste of my current daily life. Note the prime transportation they rode for 6 hours without complaint. My family is awesome.

Among many beautiful moments I have a few that stand out. Mom always makes welcome signs when I come home. So, I had the kids make a welcome sign for Aaron and Sadie. Aaron and Sadie made a big impact with the kids. They played games, baseball and the typical pick-up-kids-and-swing-them-around game.

The only negative of the trip I would say was an unfortunate lunch order; Sake-sake is apparently code for plate of stinky death. Oh, and maybe a poorly told ghost story about sleepy plane passengers (good one Aaron).

I truly love my family; and not just because they put peanut butter and liquor in their bags when they visit me. I hope my impact here is great enough to rationalize how much I miss my family.

Here is a photo of my girls group slash English club at on of the primary schools. We meet once a week and it fills my soul every time.
This is a picture of my name sake, Fama. In Senegalese culture babies are named after someone as a sign of respect. If a baby is named after you, your "turrando" in Wolof, you become kind of a god parent to the child. This is my name sake, Fama. How awesome is that?! I haven't even been here a year and I have a "turrando"! I was so touched at the baptism when they announced her name. I will be spoiling this baby with lots of frilly dresses and tasty treats.

Lastly, a lil ditty about my recent biking resume. I safely returned to my village yesterday morning after an epic journey. Two and a half days to cover 200 kilometers of bush road on a bike. We rode through some of the prettiest and the thorniest country. We rode sweating under the burning sun and exhausted under the bright moon. We rode on abandoned roads of gravel and walked through patches of deep sand.

It was unbelievable to see the villages tucked deep into the bush. I thought I was “roughing it” living in Barkedji, but compared to the bush villages, I live like a queen. In one of the villages that we stopped in to get water, the women were pulling from a well so deep that they had to run donkeys out. It blew me away that in our ever-globalizing world, characterized by commodities and convenience, there are still places where the huts are made of straw and the children have never seen a book, let alone a white person.