Mar 28, 2011


Sand and Sun

Two more weeks and we leave for France! Hard to believe. Jon has been very busy, working 6 day weeks and nights, but any chance we get we go to the beach. Dakar juts into the Atlantic and it seems the ocean is all around us. some mornings I wake up, open the window and smell the salty sea air.

We discovered by accident (a taxi ride gone awry) the most wonderful beach--Plage de Mamelles. It feels like our very own secret beach--secluded, quiet, and beautiful.

And when we want a quick beach getaway (less than 5 minutes) we go to this beach by the Mosque on the Corniche:

Both fill us with a bit of the natural world not unlike our beaches in northern California, although there are always the reminders that we are far from home:teenage boys bathing goats in the waves, fishing boats painted brightly, and wrestling, which seems to be a favorite sport here in Senegal.

Mar 10, 2011

The state of things

Last night while skyping with my sister I told her that I thought blogging was “unnatural.” She told me to blog about it.

I’m not saying I think blogging is unnatural for everyone. There are so many people with interesting things to say, and they say them eloquently, beautifully even. It’s just that blogging isn’t natural to me. Why would you want to listen to me ramble? Who cares?

It’s a funny thing for a writer to say. Who cares? Really, who cares? When I write fiction I love my characters; it is a relief that “I” don’t enter into the equation at all. I must step out of the way; let their stories unfold. At the best moments “I” don’t exist in the process of writing at all. I transcend myself…I feel wholeness. But blogging?

I woke up this morning, thoughts swarming my head like a million bees. I am across the Atlantic in a world so unlike my own. Everything is different, even small things. Like how survival seems to be in your own hands. Cars do not stop for pedestrians—they do not slow down when someone crosses the street; they don’t even swerve to avoid them. When I teeter on the edge of a busy road, inches from traffic, and a man or woman is walking in the other direction, do we pass each other on the right or the left? Neither. Every time I meet someone on the road like this they will stay strong on their path, doing whatever it takes to keep the safest course. Often that means forcing me into the road or the ditch. Few people spend their days inside on computers; they are outside, sitting in the sun or shade greeting people. They greet people on the street. They light fires with small bits of paper and cook their lunch inches from traffic passing by. Maggie is expected to greet elders here: to say hi, how are you? She is only two years old. Things are different; that is not to say better or worse. Different.

And it isn’t a gift to be stolen from your world for a time? To see it as I do, from a distance, across a large ocean? I have been reading “That Thing Around Your Neck,” a wonderful collection of stories by Nigerion author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. Her observations about the gap between American culture and the African characters in her stories have only made my experiences here in Senegal more poignant.

All I want (I am a pregnant lady, more than halfway until new baby) is to make a home. To unpack. To cook food that is familiar. To garden. To go the farmer’s market. To be with friends and family. But I hope that I can take this with me when I return home…remember how fortunate I am. Remember how happy people in Senegal seem to be with so few material things.

The truth? Some days here are very hard. Some days are ok. I wake up each morning and I can honestly say I look forward to seeing my daughter. I hear that little voice and her excitement that it is day. I want to get up and see her. It’s pretty awesome being a mom. The state of things? Pretty darn good.

Mar 5, 2011

At home in Dakar

What we've been up to...

A little baking

Some dress up

and Knitting too