Oh, yeah - Happy Independence Day!

Dakar Travel Blog

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Photography class and the assignment of the day was to take an hour to find a business, document it with a mini-photo essay. Get to know the person, what they do, who their family is, etc. Ken explains the importance of networking. In other words, not my cup of tea.

I find a man making jewelry on the side of the street. Mohammed is from Italy, but he makes silver and gold bracelets, necklaces, and other things in a small blue shack, his goods displayed in a bright red glass case.

I get the pictures and info I need. I head to the bookstore nearby to check out the French children's books - the kind of literature I may have a chance at understanding.

Back at the classroom, Souleye arrives to prep us on our village stay this weekend. We are getting homestay families that speak little, if no, French. Chris and Frankie start panicking. That means we all need to cram our Wolof lessons from last week back in our brains. Ahhh! I'm freakin' nervous. Period.

The good news was that we got a list of NGOs in the areas that we could do our practicum with. KnowI have to do hours of research and spend expensive minutes on the telephone calling contacts.

After school, I accompany Lilli and Amanda to the post office. I finally send off a bulk of my postcards. We hitch a taxi to HLM - a neighborhood Souleye reccomened for buying fabric. I need something to cover my head when we visit a mosque this weekend.

As the txi approaches our destination, our jaws drop. In front of us, streched miles up and down the street, are a sea of people, crazy worker ants scurring in every possible direction. The open air market is insane. People selling fabrics, shiny neon shoes, scarfs, jewelry, housewares, cutains, tiles, tools - basically where the locals go do their errands.

We wind through the maze, looking for fabric. We find ourselves in the center of where bulk fabrics are sold and then a building filled with stalls of sewing machines where outfits are being made. It's best described as the equivalent of a mall. A very packed and loud and sweaty mall. Where you can bargain.

I walk home afterwards. I find myself inspired to start taking pictures of my homestay family. Some of the little boys give me funny faces as we lean over the balcony. I later head to the roof, where some of the women, one of my uncles, and one of the babies are hanging out. I try to take portraits and take the opportunity of the fading light to practice different settings on my camera.

While leaning over the balcony to take pictures, I see Natalie walking by. I yell her name; freak her out when she doesn't see where it's coming from. We chat for a while and she continues on her walk. One of my sisters (I think?) comments on how my English is good. I thank her and say that I hope it is, being it's my first language. She reassures me it's very good.

By the time I'm in the shower, I realize it's the Fourth of July. I quietly hum "The Star-Spangeled Banner" in my head. There was an event at the former American Club near Suffolk that afteroon where we could pay to use their pool and get a hamburger. Ken said he'd been before and had fun observing his fellow countrymen in another country. He said he got photos of the US Ambassador playing pickup football with some of the Marine Guard and Peace Corps members. Oh well, I was too beat and didn't feel like paying 8 dollars for a burger. Plus, I like fireworks when I celebrate. It's not the same without it.

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Dakar