Enter November, stage right. She’s laced with gilded yellows and burnt oranges-mahogany browns and brilliantly muted reds. Her crisp air is tinged with snow and apple cider-pumpkins and pine cones-…and in some places, the stale reek of goats and rancid trash. Cue my Slatkin and Co. Autumn Apple room spray! Coupled with my Pumpkin Spice Yankee Candle, I can sit in front of the fan, squeeze my eyes shut and pretend it’s fall.
…Or I would, if the power were on. But right now, three very sweaty girls are bemoaning life sans a fan in Dakar. Christy, Michelle and I are typing away by flickering candlelight as our neighbor’s thundering generator battles the soothing strains of Matt Wertz coming from Michelle’s general direction.
Clearly, I’m the girl that stuffed her purse and carry-on chock full of Yankee candles-and didn’t give a second thought to packing something practical like a flashlight. And let me tell you-our power outages smell divine.
My Chilean-miner roomate Michelle and her no-nonsense head-lamp don’t know what they’re missing!
Today, fall smelled like Foster’s Market chicken and
biscuits baguette-skits. Michelle and I recently decided to go to the mattresses with our hot plate. My culinary creativity took a bit of a beating last year-chewy beef chunks and burned toaster cakes left my chef ego temporarily bruised. BUT. New year. New vendetta against the hotplate. It bested me once-I’ll be darned if the thing wins again! Thus, Michelle and I have been scouring websites like this one for creative stovetop hot plate recipes that use ingredients we can hunt down in Dakar. [Not a lengthy list, mind you.] We’re toying with the idea of writing a “thirty minute third-world meals” cookbook-and something about a ghetto-fabulous cookbook tour is insanely appealing to me! Move aside, Rachel Ray. I ride African busses-I can elbow you in the kidney if I need to.
Speaking of food-I have an announcement: the fruit stand man is in love with me.
It’s true. And after the past four days, I think I love him back. I can’t help it! The other weasely fruit guys have been such a let down-I may or may not have agreed to give one of them my firstborn in the midst of a heated debate over the price of bananas the other day. I swear, every time I waste twenty more minutes of my life trying to convince one of them that my white skin does not give them license to quadruple their prices, I leave daydreaming about tazing them and throwing them into the shark tank at sea world.
Back to my love affair with fruit stand man. He camps out on my running route-right before I cross the street to hit the beach-and thus, has been watching me run by for almost a year now. Three days ago on my way home, after I’d picked over the oranges, smelled every single pineapple he had to see which one smelled the pineapple-est [which, for those of you that were unaware, is how you pick a pineapple], and turned my foreign little nose up at a rather motley looking mound of kiwis, fruit stand man whipped out his calculator and gave me my grand total: 3,200 CFA. [Calm down. It’s about six dollars.] It was a rather unfortunate figure, given the simple fact that I only had 3,000 CFA with me. As I began to return some of the oranges from my bag, he stopped me and with a grin, told me to just give him the 200 “demain”. [Tomorrow.]
I felt for all the world, like Mary Bailey must have felt when George offered to Lasso her the moon. [And my, It is a Wonderful Life!] I’ve lived in Dakar for quite some time now, and no one has ever trusted me like that before. You can bet your bottom dollar that the next evening I was back at his stand with my sweaty little 200 coin [I was on a run, after all], which he accepted with a California chin nod that suggested that he’d known all along that I was good for it.
The next day I was back buying more pineapples and oranges [an addiction in Senegal], and I overshot by 500 CFA. Would you believe he let me do it again? “Pas de problem, jolie. Demain!” [“No problem, cutie. Tomorrow!”]
Be still my beating heart. Love him.
Ladies and gentlemen: I have a tab with the fruit stand man!
I think in Senegal, that means I’ve arrived. It’s good to be here. :)