Heather in Senegal

Thursday, July 13, 2006

June 29
Today Jenny and I rode 25 km out of town and then back. Along the way we stopped at a tiny village where Khadjitou, who lived with me and I used to think was my sister, lives with her family during the summer. She was amazed to see us, and seemed really happy to have me there to show around. I told her that now that she is no longer there in the morning to be my mirror, I always go to work with sunscreen in streaks on my face and with my clothing inside-out and dirty. She told me she thinks of me when she eats mangos. A simple yet fond friendship.
This was my first time in a little village in the middle of nowhere, and I am infatuated. It has no electricity, running water, cars, and virtually no people. It has lots of sheep, goats, chickens, and cows. Imagine the sounds. The village consists of three clusterings of huts, with about five huts per cluster. Each cluster is about a half kilometer apart. The clusters are surrounded by fields beyond which are walls of trees. This makes visible a wide expanse of sky above and a wide expanse of green below. The village has one kitten, now named Babaganoosh. She was scared when I first held her, but she learned to trust me and was soon sitting in my lap of her own volition, purring. I hope I can teach the kids of the village to touch her gently and to stop picking her up by the tail or the head. The village smells green, fresh, and clean. The cooking hut, in which many vegetables hang drying, smells like years of sauteing onions. As we walked through the woods between hut clusters, the pack of children followed at a slight distance and called me by my name, rather than calling me, “toubob.” They giggled when I shook their hands. The adults gave me a sack full of mangos. The village is 12 kilometers from home. I plan to return frequently, preferably just to sit and soak it in.


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