I’m back! In a lot of ways. I’m back from a long blog-writing hiatus, but I’ve also returned from my vacation in France. I know my last post was uncharacteristic, but clearly it was something that had been bothering me for quite some time, and I’m glad I got it off my chest. I wish I could say the reason it has been so long since I updated is because I wanted my words to marinate a little, but I’m actually just lazy and haven’t gotten around to writing.
I spent two weeks in Paris at the beginning of August, and I had an amazing time. It was a much-needed break from the longest, toughest, craziest, most stressful, amazing year of my life. I have officially passed the year mark in my Peace Corps service, and in a few weeks I will be halfway done. It’s really quite unbelievable that I’m halfway done, but then I remember that I still have 13 months left and it becomes believable again.
If you’re interested in knowing what I did in France, shoot me an email. If you don’t have the time, just know that I did and saw all the touristy things. I also did things that aren’t touristy at all but super normal. These things, such as going to the movies and shopping, were also highlights because I am incapable of such things in Senegal. Being normal after an abnormal year was a breath of fresh air.
I also really enjoyed getting my anonymity back. Being an American in Senegal is like being a celebrity. Everybody stares at you all the time. You get harassed on a daily basis because you’re different and you stand out. Walking off the plane and blending in was such a bizarre, indescribable feeling. I was waiting for my luggage at the airport and staring in wonder at the number of white people surrounding me. I felt uncomfortable, actually. Leave it to Africa to make me racist towards white people.
I spent two weeks in the city of Paris, which I recommend to anyone who has the time to do so. Normally when traveling, I want to cram as much as possible into the shortest amount of time. A few days in one city, and then on to the next one. It was refreshing to be in absolutely no rush. This was what I wanted out of my trip. I wanted to relax and not stress about seeing everything in a limited amount of time. I ended up seeing everything I wanted to see and then some. I ate some delicious food (CHEESE!) and drank delicious coffee, wine, and beer. If you’ve never been on holiday, I definitely recommend it.
Because I had such a great time, I was really worried about coming back. I thought I was going to arrive in Dakar in hysterics. I envisioned the lovely stewardesses of Royal Air Maroc dragging my wriggling body off the plane and throwing me on the tarmac.
Surprisingly, the transition back to Senegal went pretty well. I landed in Dakar, stepped of the plane and was immediately hot and sticky from the humidity. The airline lost my luggage, and I got back at six in the morning because my flight had been delayed five hours. As I walked out of the airport, several taxi drivers started yelling and grabbing me. You’d think, after all of this, I would freak out and break down. Instead, I smiled and thought to myself, “I’m home.”
I’ve been back almost two weeks now, and it has been perfectly fine. I’m just as surprised as you guys probably are by how easy it was for me to come back here. I take it as a very good sign that I feel this comfortable in such an uncomfortable country. As much as Senegal angers me and stresses me out every single day, I really do love it. I missed my host family, who were excited for my return.
The trip did exactly what it needed to. It refreshed me and gave me a burst of energy. The month leading up to my leaving, I was impatient and fed up with Senegal. I got to rest in France and feel like a human being again. I loved every minute of it.