A blog by Track and Field Athlete Kaylee Walters

Northern Illinois track & field student-athlete Kaylee Walters is spending her summer in Saint Louis, Senegal. While there, she is volunteering at a school for underprivileged children, and helping out a local track team. Saint Louis is in the northern region (see a map) of Senegal, which is located on the west coast of Africa.

July 21, 2009

One week from today, and I will be waiting at the airport to come home. I seriously can't believe two months has gone by so quickly. It quite literally feels like I dreamed the last two months as opposed to actually living them.

Lompoul, although a little too touristy, was fantastic. The desert was beautiful. I'm not sure how long ago, but trees were planted around the desert to keep it from spreading, so although it isn't as expansive as the Sahara, it was certainly a good desert experience. We went camel riding, running on the massive sand dunes, ate some magnificent Mauritanian/Moroccan style food....and then to my horror, the biggest spider I've ever seen in my life. I get scared of the tiny ones back home, and I don't think I'll ever complain again. When I get back home, I will post a picture of it - it's the size of my hand spread out, no joke.

This week is really busy since I'm trying to get in everything last minute. This week I'm shopping for shirts, shorts, and bananas for the 15 Talibe that Projects Abroad works with, getting henna done by my closest Senegalese friend, going to the beach a last time, going to my favorite restaurant here that is under tents and served Moroccan style, and spending all of Sunday with my host family. So, even though I'm very excited to come home, I have quite a lot to do within the week. I guess that means time will just go by even faster!

I've compiled a list of things that might be interesting to read: things that I will miss....and of course the things I won't miss.

Things I won't miss:

  • walking through streets so uneven and sandy that it's essentially like walking on a beach
  • hearing "Toubab" (Westerner) about every 15 seconds while walking through town
  • marriage proposals and stalkers
  • garbage everywhere on the ground
  • Thieboudienn (the national dish)
  • goat meat. ew.
  • showering locker room-style and with cold water
  • taking showers so fast and swatting at mosquitoes the entire time
  • having to "pop a squat" every time to use the bathroom....sometimes digging a hole, depending on where you are.
  • having oily food shoved down my throat.
  • baguette and instant coffee for breakfast every day
  • living in a never-ending supplies of sand
  • expensive shopping that I originally thought was cheap
  • the Senegalese song "Manna" that is played multiple times throughout the day
  • cockroaches, spiders, cats, mice, and lizards visiting my room at night
  • the way businesses are run here: you are responsible for being polite to the owner of the store and waiting for them to invite you in, as well as for having the exact change ready. if you don't have exact change, don't expect to get anything back.
  • above all, I will not miss the smell of Senegal

Things that I WILL miss:

  • fabric shopping
  • watching storms
  • hearing the calls to prayer on loudspeaker throughout the entire city and throughout the entire day
  • living simply and producing little to no waste
  • ...although it was on the list for not missing, it is also here: Thieboudienn
  • fresh fruit at every corner
  • delicious roasted peanuts at every corner for a ridiculously cheap price
  • the patisserie on the island
  • riding around in the worst taxis and cars on the planet
  • bissap and baobob juice
  • Senegalese music
  • hearing Akon's "make love right now now now" at least twice a day
  • reading all day
  • experiencing the odd combination of African, Muslim, and French culture.
  • my host family....
  • all of my students....
  • definitely will miss Gnagna, one of the best people I've ever met in my life. She represents and expresses everything good about Senegal

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