Thankfully, I didn’t wake up at 2 in the morning this time. Although I would have been worried if I did since I didn’t get to bed til around 1. (Dave, Dany and I decided to take a moonlight dip in the pool.) After breakfast, Dany had to go to Dakar to take care of some business. John and I hopped in the car with him and took off. If you’ve ever seen “A Bee Movie” you might remember the part where the main character and his friend were standing in the middle of the road and commenting on how amazing it was how everything flowed around them. That’s exactly how it is over here. Cars, trucks, people, bicycles and mopeds all crowd in the street. Sometimes there is a median between the two sides of traffic. For the most part if there is a lane open that’s where you are driving. Of course you are supposed go drive on the right side of the street but that’s not the most efficient when you have a wreck or a broken down truck on your side of the road. Gas is equivalent to about $6 a gallon. Thus you see lots of public transportation and very few SUV’s. When I say “public” I mean some guy who bought a bus and has another guy standing on the back bumper letting people get on for a fee. The guy on the back will yell the name of the city the bus is going to and anyone who wants a ride will hop on the back, give the guy some cfa (local currency) and go in the back door and find a seat. Many of the busses called car-rapids ( with a long ee sound for the i ) will have the phrase Allahumdoulalihi which means God is great. They also have a saying here, inshallah which means if God permits. Which is another way of saying that God is sovereign but is abused in order to do what you want and then say the phrase and then you’re off the hook. For the most part the city is pretty dirty and trashy but it’s just the way things are. Lots of street vendors and guys carrying things to sell; tissue, phone cards, peanuts, and we even saw a guy that was selling remote controls. We stopped at a local food vendor and had chawarmas ( pita, meat, french fries, and hot sauce) and a semi-cold beer ( I guess you could say it was semi-warm too ). Construction there is completely concrete everywhere. I don’t know that I’ve seen a carpet except for the occasional prayer mat. There are certain laws that are existent but not enforced. ( when transporting something on a truck you are supposed to have a cover on the back but rarely anybody does) There are others that are enforced but not strict. ( all vehicles have to pass a certain inspection but if you have enough money you can pass as long as you have at least 4 wheels). After a fun-filled day we got back to the compound and had a nice swim, shower, and reading time. In the illustrious words of Judy Garland, “There’s no place like home.” Even if it’s a home away from home. If you want to see the pool that we swim in these are the coordinates that you can plug into google maps or earth. (14.794598, -17.33513). Dinner consisted of freshly cooked shrimp, pasta, bread and salad. You would think in a country where the average temperature is equivalent to the fires of … an oven, that you would want nothing to do with anything else that is remotely warm. On the contrary, I find myself enjoying the comforts of hot tea every afternoon and evening. I find that in this country of extreme poverty ( in relation to what I’ve always known ) the people here are content. Perhaps it is that they are not weighed down by possessions or it could be their devotion to Allah and relying on him to provide. Maybe their families they live with bring them joy and contentment. ( I recently learned that the men of the family stay at home much longer than Americans. They are also allowed more than one wife of which Keely would be more thankful of than I would =). All in all, I am continually impressed by the sweet nature of the people here and could only wish that others could have this same joy as they have found it and as I have found in Christ. For now I will continue to learn the language, swat more mosquitos than I did in Missouri and take in the experience. Good night my friends and remember 1 Thess. 5:16.
About Lee Pettijohn