Counting down the days

Trip Start Mar 15, 2005
Trip End Apr 01, 2007

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Flag of Senegal  ,
Saturday, October 7, 2006


counting down the days to what you ask? ..well, im getting ready to take my first real vacation from Senegal since arriving here a year and a half ago. For the sake of sanity i should have taken some time away before now, but whats done is done..

Speaking of sanity, let me share one of my favorite memories.

It was after dark, the door to my room was wide open to help air out my oven-like living quarters. My rabbits were jumping around outside my door, the crickets were was a peaceful evening. And then i heard it..faint at first..scratching..squeeking..just loud enough to ensure that when the time came to sleep it would be impossible. A mouse was searching my room for scraps. I was reminded of sleepless nights in my bed at the old farm house in Freedom, listening to a rat or a mouse scratching behind the wallpaper. Just loud enough to make you want to pull your hair out. I knew i couldnt handle a night like that. My days are stressful enough..a mouse-induced sleepless night was unacceptable.

Months earlier I had treated myself to a birthday present which i had a feeling would eventually come in handy. A machete. I pulled it out from behind my shelves, layed it across my lap and picked up a book. Somehow i felt like my intruder would find me less intimidating if i were pretending to read. I patiently waited. Then i saw it..sprinting towards my food stash from under my bed.
It made its way behind my metal chest and i realized the moment of truth had come. Dont get me wrong..i like mice, i used to keep deer mice as pets when my father's tractor disturbed their little underground burrows when he tilled the bean fields in the spring.

I will skip a detailed description of how this mouse met its maker(which it did)..and get to the part of the story which resulted in what i feel was a very valuable cultural exchange.

i took a moment of silence staring down at my fallen foe. Without thinking i began to apologize for the act of violence, feeling moved to eulogize this creature who was only looking for its next meal. I was speaking pulaar. It was the first time I had unintentionally expressed myself in the local was a Senegalese mouse after all.

i picked it up using a piece of paper and carried it by the tail to my open door. I nearly screamed when i came face to face with my host brother Moussa. He had been standing at the door about to ask me to borrow some batteries when I jumped from my chair (machete in hand) to club the mouse. He had whitnessed the entire exchange, including my one sided pulaar conversation with a dead creature on the cement floor. He was wide eyed, shocked. We stared at each other for several seconds without a sound. And then I began to laugh. Moussa was still a little too stunned, and im sure slightly nervous about the possibility that the toubab living in the room at the back of the compound wasnt quite right.

I never really explained what happened that night to Moussa. I feel that some things are better left unsaid. But i wonder if he told anyone about what he saw..i hope he did.

I hope this finds you all well!
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