Goodbye Morocco / Hello Senegal
Trip Start Nov 23, 2012
7Trip End Dec 09, 2012
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I was left with drunk uncle ZuZu and grandpa Muhammed. After a confusing 15 minutes outside in the freezing cold since our driver left us in the parking lot (I was in PJs still because I didn't intend on going all the way to the airport), we got in another bus and went back. ZuZu got in some kind of disagreement with the driver, and after much deliberation, got dropped off around the corner from the airport so he could go see his daughter from his previous marriage, whom he never gets a chance to see. (Didn't he swear up and down he wasn't married and didn't have any children?! Hmm.....)
I passed out for several hours back in the hotel, and then headed to the airport to catch my 4:30 pm flight. Two hours from Morocco to Portugal, 2 hour layover, then the 4 hour flight to Senegal. Checking out the people who were gathered at my gate to was my first glimpse of Senegalese... I liked them immediately. Now that I was actually at the airport, it became a little more real. I mean, I had no idea what to expect in Senegal. No one I knew had ever been there. The only person I know who has spent any time in this part of the world is Shannon, and even still, I don't have a clear idea of what it’s really "LIKE" there. Would it be anything like Morocco? What about the people? I know nothing about this area, region, country, or people. I’m embarrassed to admit it even here, to you, but even though I know logically that my ridiculous force-fed representations of Africa kindly provided by the US media are nowhere close to accurate, all I have to run off of are some random stories from Kevin, and the stereotypical image of “struggling poor African”. I just want to be there already so I can start forming my own concept of what it’s really like there.
We arrived in the middle of the night – 2 am. When I stepped off the plane and walked across the airport tarmac, the warm, tropical rushed over me and welcomed me like an old friend. Ahhhhh. THIS is what I love - not the cold, dry air of the desert, but the living, breathing air of the tropics. I immediately felt more relaxed and at home.
Customs weren't too bad - they take a photo of you, plus fingerprints from both index fingers using this crazy machine that vibrates - and then I was off. The airport is SUPER tiny - smaller than Long Beach. There was the usual wall of people waiting for arrivals as I exited the building, the only difference was everyone was yelling at me in French. I followed the walkway lined with people, hoping I didn't look as lost as I felt, when I found Kevin. I couldn’t quite tackle him through the barrier, but that doesn’t stop me from trying. It hit me at that moment that I was really there. It all started when I noticed this random guy wearing a shirt that said “Senegal” in a bar called Clancy’s in downtown Long Beach on St. Patrick’s Day 8 months before, and decided, “Hey, this guy doesn’t look like he’s from around here… he looks interesting, I want to be friends with him”, to actually getting off a plane in the middle of the night, halfway across the world from my home, to visit him…. Life is Weird.
As we headed to the car, he gave me a funny look and asked if I was cold. Cold?! Are you kidding?! It’s a warm and breezy 70 (at least)… how could I be cold? He insisted that this was unseasonably cold weather here. I didn’t believe him until we were leaving the parking lot, paying our ticket, when I saw the attendant: he was wearing a full snow jacket, hood, gloves, scarf, the whole nine yards! Kevin pointed, and insisted, “See! The country is freezing!!”.
Unfortunately, arriving at night means I didn’t get to see much of the area… the adventure begins tomorrow!