Insomniac Reflections

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

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Flag of Senegal  ,
Tuesday, October 3, 2006

Here is an entry written at about 3am as I laid in bed, waiting for the electricity to come back on so that I could stop sweating

I can't sleep. I'm in Senegal and I can't sleep. I traveled back to the capital city of Dakar from the northern city of Saint Louis today - six hours on a rocky bus with 19 other students, a friendly-yet-somehow-sketchy bus driver, and our hilarious assistant director - yet I still can't sleep. I have so much to say. I have so much to write. I have so much to do! I want to call all of my friends at home, everyone I know in the United States, everyone I've ever met in my entire life, even the people who work at my favorite Barnes & Noble, to tell them what I'm doing - what I see, what I hear, what I live through on a daily basis.

I can't sleep. I haven't been able to sleep all night. It could be all of the thoughts running through my head about being back in Dakar, feeling very much at home at Dakar. It could be that I miss my real home in the United States more than I ever have before. How are those two possible at the same time? But realistically, I think it was the three cups of highly-caffeinated Senegalese tea that my brothers made me drink before I announced I was going to bed.

I couldn't sleep on the bus ride back to Dakar today. I tried to sleep, but the Nutella and pretzels waiting patiently in my backpack were just too tempting so I stayed up and read more than 300 pages between two different books. Before moving on to James Frey's My Friend Leonard, I finished The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho that I was reading in French. Although it was the first time in French, that's most likely the fifth or sixth time I've read the book. This time was different, though, because when Coelho writes about Santiago journeying to Africa to follow his Personal Legend, I could actually relate. I saw myself in the market with Santiago when he first set foot in Africa. I felt the sweat dripping down Santiago's back as he crossed the desert. I could completely understand how he felt when he exclaimed, "Quel étrange pays que l'Afrique!" which translates more or less as "What a strange land, this Africa!" Paulo Coelho, you read my mind. Later in the book, Santiago decides that Africa is no longer a strange land, only a new land that he has not yet fully explored.

So here I am, listening to American music from the eighties and having a dance party by myself in my room. Actually, I'm not really dancing by myself because I'm pretty sure the mosquitoes are enjoying this music, too. Or maybe they prefer classical? Anyway, I'd like to think that Senegal is no longer a strange land, just a new place with a new discovery waiting around every corner, discoveries that I can't wait to relate to friends and strangers alike. Maybe after all of that, I can get some sleep.

Additional note:
At 5am, after I had slept for almost an entire hour, singing men walked through my neighborhood, blowing whistles to make sure that everyone was awake for morning prayer and to eat breakfast before another day of fasting. I think I'm going to get tired of being in Senegal during the month of Ramadan reaaal fast.
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