Jamie’s Night at the Ambassador’s

So I went to Dakar for Thanksgiving. All the regional houses throughout the country had big Thanksgiving meals, and I considered Kaolack because it’s my region and it’s close, but ultimately I decided to head to the big city because I wanted to get to know it. I had been to Dakar for the day twice, so I wanted to stay for a few days while I had a good excuse.

Normally, I would take public transportation to get to Dakar, but luckily, a PC car was driving through Kaolack on Wednesday, so I hitched a ride with them. PC cars are amazing because they’re air-conditioned and there’s leg room. The ride took about 4 hours (it’s not far, but the roads suck here so it takes forever).

I got to Dakar Wednesday evening. I felt a little awkward at first because everyone, minus a few people (including me), was in the Dakar region, so I felt like I was crashing their party. They were super welcoming though and gave me a bowl of chili as I walked in the door.

So Dakar is huge. There’s over a million people, and it’s super Senegalese but also super Western at the same time. Downtown and the beach-areas are all beautiful with art and nice hotels, but then the suburbs are just like any other Senegalese town. It takes about 20 minutes to get anywhere in a taxi, and everything is unbelievably expensive. I was there for three days and spent SO MUCH.

The day of Thanksgiving, we went to the American Club, which is downtown. There’s a pool there and a bar and Wi-Fi. It’s for Americans living in Dakar and their families. It’s free for PCVs, which is amazing because normally it’s crazy expensive. We sat by the pool and read and chatted, then we went back to the regional house to prepare food. The U.S. Ambassador to Senegal hosts Thanksgiving dinner at her house every year, and she invites the PC country director (my boss) and any PCVs in the area to attend if they want. You, of course, have to bring a dish as well. I cooked nothing but went in on a dish with a couple people. I provided financial support and cut up vegetables.

We arrived at 5:45 PM, which was 45 minutes late. The taxi driver got lost, and we ended up on the Corniche, which is a road that, after dark, has been known to have machete-wielding men looking for white tourists. The driver kicked us out in anger, so we walked the Corniche a little looking for a cab, which is not easy.

We finally get there, have several glasses of wine, and eat. It was buffet style because there was like 80 people there, but I hate a ridiculous amount. I think my stomach has shrunk because I eat less here, but I definitely expanded it again at this dinner. It was so bizarre sitting in a nice house with A/C eating American food. It felt so normal, which is a rare feeling for me these days. I dressed up in a shirt and slacks, which was also weird because normally I wear grungy clothes. It was a nice change of pace.

The next day we went back to the American Club and spent the day there hanging out. For dinner we went to this French restaurant, where I ate an AVOCADO SALAD. Salads are nonexistent in this country. It was really expensive but worth it.

Yesterday I loaded into a PC car and headed to Thies for the UAg Summit. It’s a bi-annual meeting for everyone in my sector. It’s been interesting to see what older volunteers are doing at their sites. I’m starting to get a feel for urban agriculture, which is good because I have to do it for the next two years. It’s also fun to see my fellow UAg friends, who I hadn’t seen in 6 weeks. It’s bizarre being back at the training center. PST felt like a lifetime ago, even though it’s only been a month and a half.

Thursday is the first day of the all-volunteer conference here in Thies. All 200-something vols in Senegal will be here, which is gonna be overwhelming. After all vol is IST, which is 3 weeks of intense ag-related training. Gonna be fun.

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  1. As always, your posts are entertaining and informative. We put up our Xmas tree the Friday after Thanksgiving and your mother had a sad face at first because you weren’t here to do “your” job but you sisters were here to help and she was happy when the tree was up and the lights were on.

    We are all recovering from going to the Gator game yesterday to see our beloved team get stomped by the Noles.

    • Sca-rah
    • November 28th, 2010

    Wow your thanksgiving sounded fun. I’m happy you got some American time for the holiday. However the road with the “machete-wielding men” did not sound good. I hope you will have some internet for the next few days so we can chat more. Love you!

    • Lindsey
    • November 28th, 2010

    I’m glad you had a great Thanksgiving! Hitchhiking the Corniche does not soun ideal – I’m glad you survived. The biannual UAg summit sounds like a really good way to brainstorm with the others and get new ideas, as well as refresh with people doing the same stuff as you. I love that PC has conferences and summits! Happy you survived the 5 week challenge and can now enjoy traveling around Senegal again. You’ve seen so much already!

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