In early September, something wonderful happened (you’ve seen the pictures, you know where this is going): My family came to visit! Mom, Dad and Brother made the long, arduous journey overseas to Senegal for a 12 day African adventure with their long lost daughter.
We travelled around quite a bit, with time spent in Dakar, St. Louis, Linguere, and Xol Xol. On top of being so much fun and wonderful to see them, it was also an interesting opportunity to be reminded of how much my perspective has changed in the year and a half I have been here. I had started to forget the different view you have right when you get off the airplane. Nowadays I chug unfiltered water and don’t bat an eye at the herd of cows crossing the highway. The children playing in piles of garbage by the road is a little sad, but it doesn’t distress me in the same way that it used to. Isn’t that just the way life is?
The answer to that is no. Back home it is not normal to sweat through your shirt within ten minutes of leaving the house, and you’d probably be a little grossed out if you went to visit your relatives and they killed a goat upon your arrival.
Anyway, overall the trip was a great success, despite the fact that I sometimes forgot to watch out for things like lettuce and ice (unfiltered water is a no-no!). Luckily they were on their A-game and we made it through without any unfortunate stomach troubles. We learned that as the towns become smaller, the people become more friendly and welcoming, so Xol Xol was our favorite place to be by far. My host family got together all of the teachers and health workers and everyone had really lovely things to say welcoming my American family and thanking them for letting me come here. It was so heartwarming to listen to, and a little awkward to translate, how much they love me. About two minutes into the first of many speeches I was blushing, my parents were crying, and they had only just begun. I’m really blessed to have such wonderful people in my life, both in the US and here in Africa. If I were nearly as articulate as they were in Wolof, that meeting would have gone on a lot longer with me thanking them each individually for all of the love and support they have given me here.
So again, thank you family for coming. It was great to show you my life and to see it through your eyes for a little while. I miss you already, but I’ll be home soon! Jamm ak khewul.
“To my mind, the greatest reward and luxury of travel is to be able to experience everyday things as if for the first time, to be in a position in which almost nothing is so familiar it is taken for granted.” – Bill Bryson