Monday, August 1, 2011
Thursday morning I left my sister's swelling pregnant belly to fly to JFK International Airport. I was on my way back to Senegal. The past month I spent my vacation time with family in five different states! We filled our time with weddings, reunions, good food, laughter, and i am happy to say my fair share of dessert. But the time had come for me to trek over the Atlantic back to Senegal, to the beginning of the hot and sticky rainy season. I honestly wasn't that excited about it. To be honest I was in a bit of a funk. Its hard to say goodbye to your family, people who know you and love you despite your obvious failures, knowing that you are going to a place where those types of relationships haven't reached that level yet. So I got on my plane ready to bite back the comfort of home and move on, trying to remember my very real love for Senegal as i went. I spent about 8 hours in the JFK International airport aquainting myself with something that didn't exist when i left for Senegal three years ago, the ipad, or something of that nature. I'm not sure if it was the company i flew with or that every airline does this but there were hundreds of these ipads or "something of that nature" all over. With free internet. And fancy touch screens... This was awe-inspiring to me! Free internet? I dont know how people do that and make money. The world is changing slowly but surely, thats for sure. So what did i do but proceed to send small two to three line emails back and forth with my sister intermitently for about 7 hours straight. I couldn't figure out how to get the chat box to appear and had to settle for the next best thing. It was a good time waster and kept me awake through the long wait. The time came though to get on my plane and go. I'm not sure why i was hesitant, what i was feeling, but I was nervous about going back and experiencing a different culture that was so much a part of me. I began to be at ease when we took off and began to hear conversations in English, Wolof, French, even some Mandinka. Its funny how much being able to understand another person, having the ability to communicate with them, puts you at ease and makes you feel at home. So i endured the 7 hours in the air, slept a little, and made my peace with my time in America this go around. We arrived in Senegal at about 6am and my senses began to wake up to the harsh beauty of Africa. The sticky air telling me the rainy season has begun to trickle its way to the western most tip of the country. Reminding me of the farmers all over the country digging in the wet dirt, planting their crops for this years season, praying for the rains to last and the harvest to be plentiful. The sweet and sour smell of sweat already trickling off of peoples bodies in the wee hours of the morning. The lack of ipads and other technology trends that haven't quite made their way here but will be soon. The inner African spirit i have found that allows you to do pretty much whatever you like despite the rules laid out. (By the way, This is one of the hardest things for some rule-abiding westerners to get over. For them (and me) the obvious disobeying of the rules gets annoying when you grow up in a country ridden with laws and rules for everything.) On the taxi ride home I passed cars with boys hanging on the sides and top, transporting the working class to and from work. I began to catch the hint of smells only Africa seems to give off. The smell of water slowly seeping in the hot red earth as the sun began to rise. The spices used in the flavorful sauces and stews. The smell of incense burned as the country wakes up and begins to put everything in order once again. The sweet smell of tea, the sugar scorched by the red hot coals it had been poured over, the mint lightly steeping. It was a really beautiful thing. All these sights, smells, sounds reminding me I wasn't in a foreign place. I have a history here. So many memories from different places throughout the country. And i thought to myself, what did i have to worry about. I left home to come home.