The numbness wafts over me, clearing my vision from my initial take-off slumber just as the aircraft ascends above the clouds to glide above them parallel to where the blue meets the white. Clarity brings me back to a position of conscious thinking unlike my previous state of gazing ahead with no working thought and drool almost sliding down my chin.
I look back on my week of preparations, goodbyes, and encounters; all of them making my leaving easy, difficult, and exciting-all at once. Wanna know what was continuously running through my brain? Take a look at this video and you’ll see why I was so ecstatic to go:
(I got to see these guys at National ACDA in Oklahoma a couple years ago! Amazing)
Last Saturday evening I had a Senegalese feast as a “Bon Voyage” and early birthday party. Though many of my friends had gone back to school for the term, I was still in great company of both friends from high school and family friends of my parents which I can now call my own. Days earlier, I poured over the internet trying to find recipes for traditional Senegalese dished. With the help of my mom converting recipes for 4 people into servings for 16, I constructed a Senegalese feast of Salade Cape Verde (Salad with hard-boiled eggs and olives, avocats et crevettes (avocados stuffed with shrimp and chickpeas, la baguette et du fromage (French bread and cheese), et ceebu jen (Senegalese fish with rice and vegetables) (My dad also made some delicious lamb).
I wish I could say that it was a cinch and only took 20 minutes but I’m not going to lie-the kitchen was my domain for a good 4 hours. However, I can say the night was a success and the birthday cake (German Chocolate cake to mix it up a little) was a great end to the evening.
Hesitatingly, I began my malaria medication of doxycycline on Thursday and the pill burned a whole in my stomach and caused me to become both lethargic and also delusional for the first couple hours. Yet, nothing like a nice swipe of red lipstick will cure any bad medication as well as a rendez-vous with Emily for some vegetarian asian food and a little blue hair dye. Who said the Senegalese aren’t colorful people-I decided to match their vibrancy with a little blue streak in my hair to set myself aside from my fellow students. Hopefully I won’t get too many stares.
At Dulles airport, I followed a heard of other college students into the International departures terminal, believing them all to be in my program-oh silly naïve Cece, I’m not the only one studying abroad this semester. After checking in and receiving my plane ticket, I made my final United States moments count: I called my mom (who might admit to you that she was sobbing-just ask her) and dad (he seemed pretty chill 🙂 ), grabbed a sandwich, browsed the magazines, and got my last tall non-fat Chai Latte from Starbucks ( I hope the guy knew that if it didn’t meet my expectations, I would have handed it back to him. JK). Three different groups of college students sat huddled outside the flight gate and although my first guess landed me among the Namibia group, my second try found me in good company with those in my program.
Together we sat chatting about our worries and our excitements until one of the flight attendants told me my “carry-on” bag was too heavy and needed to be checked. For me, international flight attendants are very very intimidating and I did not want to mess with her. Instead, I obligingly got in line for the counter and had a wonderful conversation with an American lady who has been living in Dakar with her husband and 4 kids for 6 years! She definitely gave me encouragement towards my journey and set doubts at ease.
The plane ride to Dakar was incredibly smooth-especially for sitting in the middle seat. Although I don’t believe the Bowdoin math wizard sitting next to me enjoyed my company ( I have a small bladder, what can I say?), the women on my left was very kind and recounted to me her life as a doctor splitting her life in half between living in Boston and Botswana working in an HIV clinic. Holy Cow!!! I thought I was doing something cool!
With a belly full of delicious airline cuisine ( I don’t care what you think, its good!) and the movie “In Her Shoes” playing in front of me, I drifted off to sleep. When I landed I would be in Dakar….