How to Survive a Village Stay

Trip Start Sep 01, 2006
Trip End Dec 15, 2006

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Flag of Senegal  ,
Thursday, September 28, 2006

I woke up this morning in the European-ish city of Saint Louis in northern Senegal. I'm staying in a hotel that has air-conditioning, limited amounts of mosquitos, and hot showers. I didn't think I would feel hot water for another two and a half months, so this was definitely a pleasant surprise! I went for a run this morning and was reminded that I am, in fact, still in Senegal despite my beautiful hotel room. My friends, Rachel and Renae, and I ran by pile after pile of trash with swarming flies as fisherman rode by in dirty boats in the muddy Senegalese river. The heat and the smell were overwhelming, and I wished I was at home running by corn fields and up and down hills instead of swerving in the disgusting streets to avoid severed goats' body parts.

Backtracking a bit, I spent the previous four days in the village of Keur Sa Daro. The village is about two hours from Dakar and only 15 minutes from the smaller city of Thies where we ate lunch before plunging into our village stay. I stayed with a group of women in a small room full of flies, cockroaches, and mice that tried very hard to get into my backpack. Luckily NorthFace creates packs with strong enough material to keep mice out. There was no electricity, no running water, and no garbage disposals. I used candlelight to read at night after the sun went down, and I took showers using water from the well in a bucket. I was constantly being told where to go and what to do. Play with this child. Eat some bread with unsalted butter. Go take a shower by the chicken coop. Eat some rice that I just moved around with my dirty fingers. Take a nap under this tree. Eat some of this fish that only a few hours earlier was covered with flies and still had eyes. Wash this dress out by the well. Shuffle the half-deck of playing cards like this. Eat more. Go to bed... after you finish another round of dinner.

The important thing is that I survived. When I first got to the village, I thought to myself, "Wow, how am I ever goign to get through this"? I have lived to tell the tales of dirty, sick children and horribly blood-thirsty mosquitos. Only three more weeks until the second village stay!
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