Trip Start Mar 15, 2005
27Trip End Apr 01, 2007
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I am writing what will probably be my last update from Senegal. I will be finishing my service officially on the 16th of April and flying out of the country on the 21st. Before returning to America I will spend about two weeks in Portugal with some friends.
As my time here comes to a close I find myself laughing more often about the cultural differences that i have come to accept and even expect. A good friend of mine told me a great story the last time I was in Dakar and I feel compelled to share it.
He and several friends were in Dakar where it is nearly impossible to get a taxi for the right price. In the US and most other countries a taxi has a meter and you pay a set amount (genius)...well here, you bargain for your taxi fare before you get in the car. Often people new to this system forget to bargain BEFORE the ride and end up losing a lot of money because the driver makes a huge stink about you cheating him when you try to figure out what you owe. Anyway..this friend of mine and his friends were trying to get a cab for a reasonable price. Often it takes 3 - 5 cabs before someone agrees to a fair price because they assume you're a stupid toubab who will pay more. They were shocked when the second or third driver IMMEDIATELY agreed on a fair, if not generous price. Things began to get interesting as soon as they merged into traffic. They were heading towards a big intersection where the light had just turned red. Thankfully there weren't any cars in front of them because the driver instead of applying the brakes began to do donuts in the middle of the road. At this time the passengers were probably whispering something to the effect of ' this guy is insane, why is he doing donuts?' Not to frighten you parents out there..but after months in this country it was not the volunteer's first thought to get out of the vehicle..it was more a passive curiosity about what could possibly be driving the chauffeur to his bizarre behavior. The next incident provided some clarity. An ambulance was roaring up the road behind this taxi and the car in front of it pulled off to the side of the road. Instead of pulling off the road behind the other vehicle the mad-taxi jumped the curb and drove along the side walk AROUND the other vehicle and continue back onto the curb while the ambulance passed. My friend put two and two together at this point and leaned forward so the driver could hear him. ' you don't have any brakes do you?' The response he received was priceless. Hysterical laughter accompanied by a muffled 'deedeet' or 'no' in wolof.
By this time they were within sight of their destination so figured why not stick it out and see how he plans on stopping. He did so by pulling the emergency brake.
All in a days play.
I have an amazing number of stories like this, some from my own experience and some from the experiences of my friends here in Senegal. It certainly hasn't been dull. I look forward to seeing and talking to all of you about my time here upon my return to the States. Speaking of my return..I will be in Maine from the start of May until mid-June when I will be flying out to Seattle to try west coast living for a bit. I plan on taking it day by day.
I want to thank all of you for your support and generosity during my service. I cannot express my gratitude properly via travel pod post. I look forward to doing it in person!