Heather in Senegal

Friday, July 27, 2007

My friend Nick had an eleven hour car ride with a man who was putting together an international music festival in a town 140 km from Kolda. The man revealed that his white act, a few Spanish men, had cancelled, and he was looking for a new white ensemble. Nick contacted me and asked if Charlie and I might want to play two sets at the show the following week. I was really excited to do this, so after I left the garden I hurried to Charlie's house on my bike. On the way I smashed into something. Lets call it a turkey. The animal ran off, and I flew off my bike onto the cement where I skid to a stop on my left arm. A day later I was able to make a fist again, but pain remained. Between my aching arm and the short notice on the concert, Charlie and I decided not to perform. However, we got talking about doing music together, he talked to a friend of his who arranges parties, and in September, Charlie, a few other volunteers, and I will put on a show of classic rock songs at a local hotel.

A few weeks after my fall I went up to Dakar for x-rays. Nothing was broken, so med sent me to physical therapy. I spent the next two weeks in a type of heaven. Every two days I went to physical therapy and had infared, ultrasound, massage, electric volts, and other things done on my arm by a really nice woman who was more than happy to explain what she was doing. The rest of the time I was basically on vacation. I walked for hours and hours every day, exploring Dakar and gazing at the ocean. I ate delicacies like ice cream and falafel. I went to a small island with another volunteer and held a sea urchin in my hand. Coincidentally, that night I saw photos of some friends of mine eating live sea urchins. I bought a gremlin mask and leapt at children in the street. Random volunteers came to Dakar for med reasons or to fly off on vacation, so I got to see friends I had not seen in months. The American Club allows us to enter for free, so I went to the pool a few times and participated in a trivia night. The volunteer based in Dakar took me and two others to the zoo. It's a depressing place of tiny cages and cement floors, but it has the advantage of letting you get very close to the animals. A tiger nearly bit one of my friends. The animals kept in by chain link fences have done a lot of goring the fences, so we were able to partially enter their cages. It looks like Dakar is going to have some escaped camels and elk soon. We were bewildered by the herd of donkeys fenced off to the side until someone realized this was the zoo's pantry. Later at feeding time we saw the lions munching on rib cages that looked donkey-sized. In the heart of Dakar I discovered a cat-lady. She looked exactly like the homeless cat-ladies of NYC. I sat on the sidewalk chatting her and petting her feline entourage for a long time. Most of all, I just walked. I raised, popped, and grew calluses over blisters. It was glorious to have miles and miles of pavement and to have no one recognize me.

My arm is mostly better now. It's stiff some mornings, but it doesn't hinder my work much, and it doesn't hurt when I play violin.

pics of the zoo, curtesy of Justin Land:


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