Thursday, May 31, 2012

Made in America

First thoughts:

1. It didn’t take long to see just how much the importance of appearance has slipped into the background during my time in Senegal. Everyone in the airport was clean and I immediately felt like I was better off ditching the little bit of dinginess that I brought back in my backpack.  I had plenty of time during my 16 travel hours to people-watch, which is always amusing. I saw pounds of makeup, miles of jewelry, tapping heels, and wasted meals.  sigh.

2. I could also understand every word spoken from nearby whispers to distant jokes. I wasn’t being nosey or purposely listening, I was just appreciating the fact that I could understand. I couldn’t eavesdrop on a Pulaar conversation if I tried.

3. We (the inclusive American we) are organized, patient, and completely capable of forming a line.  We have had the idea of standing in line pounded into our heads since kindergarten and it has since gained an importance that may not be realized until being tested at every opportunity.

Story time. I arrived at the Dakar Airport early and then some. The most chaotic crowd filled the small, poorly designed building. Unlike other airports, the most time consuming stage was not the security checkpoint, but customs. The standing and waiting around at midnight was not an issue, but the anxious Senegalese man that thought he should be able to shove to the front of the meandering line was testing my patience. I rebutted at every turn until the situation finally boiled over. We shouted at eachother and neither of us understood a word.  New low? perhaps. But the crowd and police sided with me, so i didnt feel nearly as guilty for trying to make this building of a man understand that I value the ounce of respect and patience required to stand in a line.