Saturday, January 19, 2008


I apologize for my long absence.

My father told me recently that some of you avid followers were sending him emails wondering why I hadn’t write since December 11th? Not only did that make me smile, it also motivated me to get writing again. The reason for the hiatus though is because I went on vacation. Yep, I spent the holidays in Rome and Sicily with family friends. Lucky girl huh? The trip was just wonderful (see “Italy” album), and I didn’t freak out about being in the “1st World” nearly as much as I thought I would. I mean, within my first day or two I had a moment of panic and disgust at my return to materialism. I mean you could say that I sort of binged on luxury. I went out in Rome, had my hair done (by a hilariously flamboyant Italian man), ate delicious fresh meals and tons of gelato, bought jeans, took long hot showers, and watched CNN in English. But as my good friend said “Cait, you’ve only been in Senegal for 9 months, that’s not enough time to undo 24 years of cultural learning.” And he’s right. It was great to be back in a city I knew and wander the streets with no agenda. In Sicily it was so nice to just be locked up with friends and have no agenda except to feed ourselves and occupy the kids.

Though I know it was disappointing to my family at home that I didn’t come home, I realize that I just was not ready. I did not want to have to say my goodbyes all over again. What a treat it was too to be with a family of people that grew up in West Africa. One of the things I was probably the most anxious about going home to was the “celebrity” status. You know, running into people all over town who expect soundbyte responses to “How is Africa?” “What’s it like” and waiting for a 30 second or less response. I know that I’ll have to deal with all that eventually when I’m home over the summer, but I think that by then I’ll be able to handle it much more graciously. The idea of telling the story over and over again is exhausting though. This is why I love having a blog so much! I feel like those of you who really care will follow along and then I won’t have nearly as much story-telling ground to cover when I come back.

Coming back to Senegal has been an unexpected piece of cake. I spent a few days in Dakar with other volunteers who were coming back in from vacations, so that we could hit “critical mass” for the long voyage back to the desert. I was so thrilled to come back to site and to my family, and my work. I feel rested, restored, re-motivated, and ready to put in some serious work time before the hot season smothers all good intentions to get anything done. Since I’ve been back I’ve just been on cloud nine. I mean, so little bothers me anymore! I’m not sure if that’s a product of my own adaptation to life here, or the cool season. Probably some of both. Truly though, the cool season is like 5 zillion times more tolerable than the rest of the year. Too bad it’s mostly over by March. I actually fear the hot season. Even thinking about it makes me anxious and miserable.

But for now, I’m thrilled to be back, work has taken off again, I’m the perfect level of busy, my Pulaar rocks, and life is wonderful!

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