Update #1

Trip Start Jun 10, 2008
Trip End Jul 11, 2008

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Flag of Senegal  ,
Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Hey everyone!   I'm sorry I haven't had a chance to write yet, but things have been a little crazy.  I don't have time to fill you guys in on everything that happen but I'll give you the highlights.  My problems actually started before I even got on the airplane to come here.  When I was paking the night before I realized that I had forgotten my glasses down in Blacksburg and my camera was no where to be found.  I was frustrated with these new developments, but there were nothing too serious.  I just took one of my parents cameras and made sure to pack lots of extra contacts and bring the prescriptions for my glasses with me.  Problem more or less fixed.  SO the next morning I get up and my Dad and I head to the airport with plenty of time to spare.  We stop by Kinkos so I could make a few extra copies of my passport (just incase something were to happen).  We get to the airport with 3.5 hours to spare.  There was no line for check-in.  IN other words things looked like they were going great.  That should have been my first indicator that something was about to go terribly wrong.  Some of you may be able to guess what happened next.  I go to get out my passport and.... it's not there.  I had left it in the copy machine at Kinkos.  It still baffles me even now that I, a person who has spent most of the past 2 years making copies for her jobs, forgot to take the passport out of the copier.  So my dad and I run back to the car (thank goodness he had decided to come in with me and not head right to work).  He calls his office and has someone call Kinkos and we start driving back to Manassas ( about 35 miles away).  His deputy calls back.  My passport isn't there.  At this point, I loose it.  Not only is my trip ruined but someone out there is running around with my passport.  We keep driving because there was nothing else to really do and abou 3 mins later she calls back.  Apparently nobody had actually bothered to check inside the copier (sometimes I really hate people) and they did indeed have it.  So my dad starts driving like a crazy person and my mom goes to pick up the passport and meet us halfway.  We meet up in Centreville and then rush back to the airport.  Somehow, I suppose by the grace of God, we make it back to the airport with 1.5 hours till my flight.  I fly through check-in and security and manage to be at my terminal with an hour to spare.  I even had time to eat a quick lunch.     I catch my plane and meet up with my sister in JFK with no problems.  Our flights to Brussels and Dakar where relatively uneventful, though we did get stuck on the tarmac for 3 hours at JFK because we had mechanical problems and then a baggage car had run into another plane which blocked the runway (still not sure how one runs into a plane, but that is a questions for anoth day.  We land in Dakar and get our baggage and then we go to get money from the ATM.  Long story short the lachine hated us and ended up eatin gmy sisters card, which wasn't the end of the world because we have a couple hundred in dollars and we exhanged them at one of the shops in the airport.  We actually managed to get a decent rate.  Then we get a taxi (which is actually the beginning of another story that will have to wait for another time) and get to our hotel.  Our hotel is pretty nice and te people there are a lot of fun.  So the next morning we get a taxi to take us back to the airport to get my sister's card back, which was actually a lot easier than we thought it would be.  Unfortunately, when the people at the bank tried to run the card, it didn't work.  We decided that we would just go back into town and try at one of the big banks.  Long story short, we go to two banks and realize that Sarah's accounts have been blocked.  So we ended up having to go to Western Union to exchange some more money for a horrible rate.     Again, I really don't have time to go into the whole story, especially since I just manage to erase the last paragraph I wrote, so I'll have to just give you the summary.  IT took us four days to get the whole thing cleared up but  luckily our hotel fed us and just put it on our bill.  And I know what you are probably thinking, four days, really?  Shouldn't have only taken a simple phone call to the bank to straighten things out?  Yes and no.  It should have been as simple as that but it is actually impossible to make collect calls or use foreign calling cards from Senegal.  Finally some nice guy let Sarah use his cell phone to make the call and we were able to get it sorted out.   I had a good birthday.  Nothing terribly exciting.  Sarah and I got caught in quite the little downpour and I met up with one of the professors here.  In the evening we had cake with some of the people from the hotel and then Sarah and I got in a discussion abou marraige and babies with two guys from the Ivory Coast.  They couldn't believe it when I said I wasn't sure if I would ever get married and that I was never going to have children.  They also couldn't believe that I found a guy that was okay with my declaration of no procreation because apparently that is a deal breaker with them.  All and all it wasn an amusing evening with me yelling "Pas d'enfants!!! Jamais!!! (no children ever) and me going lalala with my fingers in my eqrs when one of the guys kept saying he was going to pray that I had children in the next 4 years.  Good times...    Well, there are a few little stories from my trip so far.  I'm enjoying myself, even though I have had a few minor frustrations.  I'm pretty sure I could stay here indefinitely with no real difficulty (I've even had a few marraige proposals that could faciltate that HAHAHA j/k).  The people are nice and it's an interesting place.  I'm looking forward to actually have sometime to do some exploring.
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