LESSON #1: BRING A BOOK AND WATER WHEREVER, WHENEVER
today i went to the weekly luma (market) in birkelane with talla. he goes every week to sell peanuts and other things and i tagged along because i wanted to get a cannari and to see how to get to birkelane. my dumb american mind made the stupid assumption that going to the market would be a one or two hour ordeal so without thought, i threw my phone and wallet into a rice sack and hopped onto the wetir.
after a beautiful ride through the bush we get to birkelane and sell our peanuts and get my cannari and are chillin' in some dude's mobile-fix-up shop when talla tells me that we're leaving at 5. it's 12:15. i'm not sure i hear him right but when we step outside to find lunch, i get it. it is hot as balls and all i can think of is water and sweet sweet bissap and i'm parched and have nothing to do but stare and think about the book i could be reading (atonement, by ian mcewan) and the nalgene full of water sitting in my hut that i purposely didn't bring because i thought it was too heavy. i buy a 50 CFA bissap juice (500CFA = $1USD, fyi) but it does nothing but make me want more liquid satiation so i cave and risk my life by buying some shady 25CFA ndox bu sed ("cold water" aka tepid water) in a plastic bag that reminds me too much of a silicone breast implant. i drink 2 more afterwards. we'll see what happens in the next few days (i'm pretty sure i will get sick).
at first i really had no idea how i was going to last until 5 at the luma because it was freakin' hot and i had absolutely nothing to do! turns out i wound up having a lot of fun chatting with people, staring and/or spacing out, and talla showed me around and i got to see where they sell cows and goats. there were so many people to talk to and everywhere i went there was somebody to greet. i surprised talla -- and myself, too -- with my ability to speak wolof and when i was at ease i was even able to banter with a few clear speakers. regardless, everybody (literally) was pleased with my efforts and by the end of the day everywhere i went i would hear "aissatou! aissatou!" i'm like a rockstar here and i don't even deserve it.
i was also able to establish a good rapport with talla today. not that our relationship was ever particularly strained but i guess it is in my nature to be wary of men. however, today i was able to see him in his element and he got to see me interact with more than just the compound (the majority of which are children and seriously, how much do i have to say to kids??) so i think we have a better understanding of each other. he really is well respected in the community and was very helpful in introducing me and helping me with names. he's a cool cat and if this keeps up, he will be a good counterpart.
LESSON #2: DON'T ROMANTICIZE ANYTHING!
so the exhausting day at the market finally ended and while i was feeling good from all the fun i just had, i couldn't wait to go home and bucket bathe and relax. but i was giddy and pleased with the way things turned out and as i sat on the wetire i couldn't help but think "is this really my life? did i really chat in wolof all day and experience the market in rural senegal?? am i really riding a horse-drawn charette through the african bush passing by baobabs and desert dates and under the great african sky with the blazing sun setting down for the day??? is this really happening?!" and just as my thoughts get more ridiculous and elaborate and over-embellished, the wetir goes careening out of control and i am almost thrown off as the wetir and horse go out of control resulting in a broken wheel and no possible way to fix it. thanks for the reality check!
we spend the next hour sitting on the side of the dirt/sand road waiting for talla's homie to show up and help fix the wetire. meanwhile, the little goat that was part of the load is pitifully bleating and the horse takes a massive dump. being that the road we are on is the only road, of course everyone and their mom saw our broken wetir and had a comment for talla about it. i'm sure it didn't make things better for him to have a random toubab as part of his entourage (2 others and a goat) and of course everybody had something to say about that too. because we "broke down" in the middle of the road, i also get to witness many intense near-wetir accidents and traffic jams and at one point have to literally jump up from where i'm sitting and run for my life because some dude can not control his 3-donkey charette and directs it right in my way. i, however, remain surprisingly calm and stree-free througout this entire ordeal -- i suppose because the reality of the situation is that this is just how it goes and what can i possibly do about it than roll with the punches?
eventually i hitch a ride with a few other guys who are going through my village. pretty uneventful, other than the pleasing fact that they want to know where i am from and suggest italy, spain, or germany as my country of origin.