In Search of an Omen

Dakar Travel Blog

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This weekend's theme - freaking out about practicum! Woot. I feel so lost compared to the other students. Friday night Aidan came up to me in the internet café after getting back from following around a djembe drum troupe for the day. Great, he's finished already.

Saturday morning's "class" consists of getting money and a rubric from Souleye, a brief Q&A with him and Ken, and me finally getting through to World Vision. They tell me to come in on Monday to meet their communications and publicity director. I'm just going to be on edge until then.

I grab lunch by myself and head to the internet café for two hours. Not being able to stare at the computer screen anymore, I drop my stuff at home and head to HLM - the crazy fabric market. I NEED to think of a backup practicum plan that I can do independently if none of the NGOs I'm chasing pull through. I thought of doing something documenting the tight, sweatshop-like working conditions of all the seamters in that dark building filled with sewing cublicles.

Instead of trying to get a good sense of the place without my camera, I freak out. There is not way I can get good pictures in there, and I can't seem to get anywhere talking to people. It would be impossible to gather any sort of substantial information on a topic I have to make up on my own. I just don't have the motivation or the time.

So I breakdown. By "breakdown," I mean all the stress of this whole trip built up and let out in an hour long phone call to my mom. One hour to the States. About $100. Yup. Me on the sandy street of Dakar, crying, at about $2 per minute.

I get home and finish of the day reading "The Alchemist." (Read it and you'll get the title of this entry.) It's like God gave me that book to read at the perfect time. He even gave me the right section to read, too. The part about not freaking out about the future. At least I'm able to get a somewhat decent sleep that night.

I wake up the next morning almost lazy. I have no motivation to move at all. I finally head to Les Ambassades for breakfast, the waitress bringing me my regular. I return home feeling a bit better and finish "The Alchemist." I finally get some laundry done. Then I head out for lunch.

At the restaurant, I just grab a menu and sit down by myself at a long table. I notice two foreigners - one white, the other African-American - at another table. Suddenly, one of them comes up to me and hunches down. "Do you speak English?" They want me to help them read the menu and order crepes. Marie and Monica are from Florida and are in town for three weeks with their univeristy for some sort of leadership program. Apparently, once a week they teach young children English. So when they invite me to eat lunch with them, my conversation is ultimately directed at trying to make a practicum contact.

After lunch, I help Marie buy cigarettes, then try to slide in that I would like to contact their program director for possibly taking some pictures. They say that they can pass on my email and cell phone number. I walk with them a bit to the near by pool complex, where there's lots of hip-hop playing. We finally make our way to this event, which turns out to be a rollerblading competition. We get there just in time for the female division - just skating then jumping over a stick about knee's length off the ground. Not too exciting. We apparently missed the good part.

After leaving my two English-speaking companion, thinking God was just making fun of me by putting this contact opportunity right in my face after I had broken down the day before, I grabbed a taxi downtown. It's great to go there on a Sunday. Barely anyone hassles you. So I got some great shopping done at the Mali market and at other places, although my shopping options were decreased as most of the stalls were closed. But I think I still did well.

Next, I head to the Sonatel, my wonderful air-conditioned refuge, to buy a 2,500 CFA ($5) bottle of water and relax in the only clean, padded chair in town. I call mom to vent a bit more (not as bad as yesterday), and head home to witness my bossy little cousin/sister (I still don't know how I'm related to her) be the meanest teacher I've seen as she and the other neighborhood children play 'school.' At least I'm not the only one in this house who's stressed out.

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