Pictures from Senegal

Sunday, July 11

Kedougou 4th of July

The morning of the 4th I woke up tired and exhausted. I hadn’t slept well the night before and needed a change to remedy the situation. Everyone else seemed ready for fun… so I showered and ducked out quickly. I avoided the 4k race my fellow Americans organized through the streets of town… complete with American music and announcers. Instead, A friend had rented a hotel room a little ways down the road and was kind enough to let me borrow the bed for a few hours. I joined my friends for breakfast at the hotel before taking my nap. What a treat, as the room had a private bath and air conditioning!

A couple hours into the afternoon, I was woken up by a phone call from my Dad! The first time my family was able to get a hold of me for my birthday (not counting the lost calls in the middle of nowhere). Unlike the sadness I felt on Christmas, this conversation was filled with the telling of my birthday adventure. I don’t know if that’s a sign that Christmas means more to me, or if I’m just plain adjusting my current life. Either way, I conclude it was a great talk.

Straightening out my new dress (made from fabric bought in Thies and by my tailor in Mboro), I headed back to the Kedougou regional house and 4th of July party. Entrance to the party was about $10 and went towards all you can handle food and booze. Large tents, tables, chairs and speakers had been set up. I walked in minutes before the beer pong tournament started… kicked off of course by a rendition of the National Anthem. My friends sported red, white, and blue colors along with American flag apparel to add to the festivities.

Over 600 beers were commissioned for the event… and enough ice to match. One’s drink alternative consisted of what we fondly call gissap… which is a mixture of gin and bissap (or hibiscus flower) juice- the African equivalent to cranberry. Peanuts, popcorn, and bread and dips were littered about the party. More American music and games kept us entertained for hours. The manliest of men in our bunch had gotten up at dawn to procure the 3 pigs we were to consume; cleaned, trimmed, grilled, and roasted in pits dug in the backyard. They did a truly amazing job, especially considering they coupled the pork with homemade barbeque sauce and baked beans. In addition, potato salad and other American-esque dishes were served for dinner.

The rest of the evening, not that I fully recall it all, consisted of fireworks, a dance party, glow sticks, ice water and beer baths, and so much more fun. Perhaps the best part about my 4th was the general ambiance. Singing American songs, speaking English, wearing our colors, eating familiar foods, playing favorite games… was wonderful. It was like being at home with friends and family.

I suppose I’ve also gotten to a point in my service where the people here are like friends and family all rolled into one- without offense to those of you reading this at home. They are the ones I can call (cheaply and quickly) when crazy or stupid things happen. They are the ones who understand. They hold my hand or give me a hug. They are the ones with which I make treasured American substitute meals. We sweat and laugh off insults together. We exchange movies we wouldn’t normally watch in the real world and new words in languages we don’t always enjoy speaking.

My fellow PCVs, I enjoy your company more than you realize. I look forward to every opportunity we have to get together, no matter how grandiose or insignificant. I enjoy our stupid text conversations and our inside jokes. I hereby profess my 4th of July love to you. It may just be my current surroundings, but you mean the world to me. Thank you not only for an excellent holiday but, more importantly, thanks for every other not so special day.

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