Category Archives: Cross cultural hilarity

The Hog Queen.

Processed with VSCOcam with t1 presetA week ago today, I met Kellan at the airport and hopped a Raleigh bound flight on account of some unfinished business with the Raleigh DMV. [Operation Becoming a Dickens: Take 83648202947573akjdffa;kjldfda;lkjfdakj;l.

I would have been indignant and possibly slightly dangerous if not for five little words: THE NORTH CAROLINA STATE FAIR.

Home to Turkey legs the size of my head and deep fried erry’thang, and the perfect excuse to wear my cowgirl boots and eat deep friend chocolate chip cookie dough.

Stop looking at me like that.

Given that I’m technically not from North Carolina and haven’t even the slightest interest in biscuits, tractors, hunting or collard greens, the State Fair was a learning experience for me. One of the first times that I went was in college, and some sadistic classmates masquerading as friends took unsuspecting me to a hog race.

I know. That’s a real thing.

Clearly, I hadn’t the foggiest idea what a hog race WAS, which my alleged friends took full advantage of when the hog caller [I know. I KNOW.] asked for volunteers.

With no warning, I was violently pushed to the front of the crowd, where a portly farmer in a John Deer hat grinned and waddled towards me.

Well HAY there, little darlin’!

Gulp. Hello.

There must have been something telling in my tentative “hello”, because he knowingly guffawed and belted You’re not from around here, are ya?

Indignantly: No sir!

Undeterred, he commanded me to pick a hawg, honey!

Now of course, was confused. I have very little hog experience on my resume, merely a deep rooted love for teacup pigs which was approximately ZERO help in that moment. Not to mention, I hadn’t the slightest idea as to why on earth I was picking a hog in the first place! With a weak smile, I pointed in the general direction of a rather indifferent looking brown fellow, and it was declared to the watching world that he was my hog.

Several other women were selected from the crowd [the camouflage and bleached hair added a sort of je ne sais quoi to their nomadic group, of which I was clearly not a part], and the pigs were lined up at the starting line.

And then the portly farmer dropped the bomb:

The winner would be crowned the Hog Queen.

He said it with a grin as wide as Montana, clearly believing he was making my day. My heart stopped and the arena started spinning.

Hog Queen.

Hog. QUEEN.

HOG QUEEN!

My short life flashed before my eyes as camera flashes twinkled like stars. Would I be in the newspaper? Did I need to climb over the fence and race with my pig? Would there be a talent portion of the evening?! DEAR HEAVENS, I WOULD NEVER LIVE THIS DOWN.

Meanwhile, my new blonde compatriots hollered enthusiastically, while my peanut gallery friends turned purple with laughter.

Mercifully, my porker of a pig came in second, nobody had to throw a baton or wear a swimsuit, and the day was saved. Also, given her tearful, Miss America reaction, I believe being crowned the Hog Queen of the North Carolina State Fair was the pinnacle of my new bleached friend’s life.

And really, who am I to take that from someone?

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Filed under Cross cultural hilarity, First World Problems, Home, My ghetto-fab life

Honey, I Lost the Car.

DSC_0142-001I made it to Portland!

Christy and I stayed up until four AM my time excitedly chatting away, and BLISS. Sitting on her green couch stumbling over our words as they poured out was a relaxing, calming elixir and I wanted to bottle up the feeling and store it forever. Would someone be a dear, and inform my husband that I’m moving to Portland?

That’s not a joke, because NO WAY am I attempting to navigate LaGuardia airport again. And I mean that with every ounce of my pancreas.

It was a grand idea at conception. Tickets were cheaper out of LaGuardia [read: less plasma Kellan and I would have to sell], and it was a short three hour drive away. I’d take Kellan’s car [translation: radio and AC, of which I have neither] and really, how hard could it be? I grew up internationally and have navigated airports on six continents. [Antarctica, I’m coming for you!] Piece. Of. Cake.

And it was, up until the last half hour. As Kellan’s SUV and I puttered closer and closer to New York City, my heart began to race because HOLY TRAFFIC BATMAN. Forget lanes and trivialities like turn signals, I suddenly found myself in the midst of a giant game of  automobile chicken, and every narrowly missed car left me increasingly convinced that I was going to end up sheepishly calling my husband from the bottom of a fourteen car pileup. As I approached LaGuardia, my blue eyes widened in sheer disbelief. It was utter chaos—the likes of which I have only seen in third world countries ruled by fascist dictators that can’t be bothered with minor details like traffic safety. The road resembled an ant hill spilling out cars every which way as an angry symphony of honking and four letter words filled the polluted air. As my fight-or-flight response rushed to the surface, I began to hyperventilate and wonder how angry my husband would be on a scale from 1-10 if I jumped ship and abandoned his car in the middle of the road. Or maybe something kinder—do fire stations have safe drops for cars? Surely Kellan would understand.

My heart raced as sweaty hands gripped the steering wheel. Parking. I need to find parking! Which would have been a grand idea, if only there had been some to be found. Unclearly marked lots were “FOOL!” according to the myriad of English-is-not-your-first-language friends that I begged for help, and somehow in a dazed panic my black SUV and I suddenly found ourselves in the middle of the yellow taxi lot.

It was the closest I’ve been to a foreign country since forever—the sea of rather peeved men I suddenly found staring back at me appeared to be a mash-up of every tongue and culture but mine. A gentleman in a turban who had CLEARLY skipped breakfast began to holler at me in Arabic, and I hadn’t the foggiest idea as to what to do but sit staring back blankly, blinking like a dumb pigeon. There was no hope of hiding in the ocean of bright yellow taxis. I was a freak of sideshow proportions in my oversized sunglasses and my husband’s dark SUV, one mangy fur coat away from being mistaken for an Olsen twin. I contemplated attempting to make nice by reciting the call to prayer, which incidentally is all of the Arabic I have in my language arsenal, but opted instead to channel Danica Patrick and get out as fast as I could. Which, in case you were wondering, wasn’t fast at all because in NYC even the parking lots are jammed.

I eventually parked. I can’t tell you where—all I know is that it was at the wrong terminal and I’m never finding that dumb car again. [Sorry, honey!] The sweet Pakistani man said garage “B”, I think. Or else it was “C, D, E, or P.” I really can’t be sure. Which is fine, given my plans to hitchhike back to New York.

The rest of my trip was relatively uneventful, if you don’t count the part where I convinced myself that the man sitting beside me in row 20 was only making small talk because he wanted to stuff me into his car trunk, drag me into the woods and carve me into slices like a Thanksgiving turkey. I can’t talk about how much time I spent mentally cataloging the items in my purse, trying to figure out what I could best use to stab him in the eye. [Nail file.]

In totally unrelated news, I’ve decided to stop watching CSI at the gym.

Portland is off to a rousing start!

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Filed under Cross cultural hilarity, Cross cultural moments, First World Problems, My ghetto-fab life

Trollops Are People Too.

You would have understood if you’d only been there-I just know you would’ve.

Call it a momentary lapse in judgment.  Blame the relentless heat-Dakar does, after all, feel very much like an oven as of late. Or maybe the stress of leaving this country forever in just seventeen days has finally addled my brain. Or the fish! Consuming copious amounts of fish can lead to mercury poisoning, I hear.

That must be it. I have mercury poisoning. It’s the only plausible explanation as to what on earth possessed me to wear a strapless, sunshine yellow pool cover-up outside in a Muslim country yesterday.

Yes, I’m a trollop. Yes, I’m humiliated. But spare me the lecture-Kellan beat you to it.

It all started after church. Michelle and I recently discovered a bakery downtown where the coffee doesn’t taste

Christy and I with the two men that have kept us alive for two whole years. I'm knighting them just as soon as I get home and find my sword.

like liquid trout, and there’s a divine chocolate fudge concoction that makes me cry, it’s so good.

Really, I don’t know why I bother eating anything else.

Using every ounce of my persuasive powers, I shamelessly begged, wheedled and pleaded with Dayton, Michelle, and Christy to venture downtown to said bakery with me after lunch. After they finally acquiesced, I delightedly ran to get ready to go. Pack my rucksack, kiss my loved ones goodbye-you know the drill.

And then it hit me. I have some pretty vicious tan lines from running in the scorching, African sun every day-and in the spirit of getting rid of them,  …well, I decided it would be just brilliant  to throw on my strapless, yellow pool cover-up over a pair of shorts, and wear it to the bakery. You know, uh, since it was a weekend. And I was going with friends. And we weren’t going to be in a part of town where anybody knew us. And…

Mercury poisoning. Remember the mercury poisoning. This is clearly no laughing matter, friends.

Impishly, I walked into the living room looking for all the world like a three year old that had been caught coloring on the wall. Dayton rolled his eyes, thanked his lucky stars that he only had eighteen more days of keeping me alive left, and off we went.

We made it to the bakery without incident, and ate ourselves into the most gloriously mind-numbing chocolate coma you can possibly imagine as my eyes rolled into the back of my head and I reveled in my newfound wardrobe freedom.  As much as I love my Mennonite clothing options in Dakar, there was something delicious about breaking the rules. It was all I could do not to stand up on the table, throw my hand over my heart and belt out the Star Spangled banner. I felt like Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Stanton all rolled into one-staging my own, personal protest against a repressive system that treats women as possessions.

While getting rid of my tan lines. I am nothing, if not efficient.

Once we regained the power of movement, Christy, Michelle and I followed Dayton out to the road like three little ducklings as he bartered for a taxi-and then we all piled into the dirty backseat while Dayton sat up front next to our Senegalese driver.

Who seemed, disconcertingly enough, much more interested in the three American girls in his rear view mirror than the cars barreling furiously towards us on the busy road.

Finally, he just couldn’t take it anymore. He turned to Dayton and asked: “Ils sont vos femmes?” [Are they your wives?]

Dayton shook his head furiously as an indignant chorus of “Non!” rang out from the backseat.

With a sly grin, our male-chauvinist-pig driver then hungrily commented, “Vous a beacoup-donne moi un.” [You have a lot-give me one of them.]

He then gave me a drawn-out, lecherous once-over in the rear view mirror and slowly said: “Donne moi elle.” [Give me her.]

Ah, yes. The floozy in the strapless pool cover up. Well, that makes sense.

As I vehemently protested “Absolutement NON!” ,  and tried to remember how to say “snowballs chance in hell” in French, an outraged Christy jumped in and angrily lectured: “Nous ne sommes pas les choses que il peut donner-nous sommes des humaines!” [We are not things that he can give, we’re HUMAN!]

…I don’t know what it was. The sun, the mercury poisoning, my strapless yellow pool cover up or my male chauvinist future husband- but Christy’s incensed, righteously indignant tirade on basic human rights to a man that had probably never had a woman stand up to him before just tickled my funny bone.

And I snorted the rest of the way home.

Our taxi driver, on the other hand, didn’t say another word.

That’s Christy: 1 and Male Chauvinist Pig: 0.

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Filed under Cross cultural hilarity, My favorite people

Fragments of My Imagination

Our "living on a prayer" picture in Milan. Note the floating hand.

There are just twenty-four days left in Dakar. My frazzled nerves and scattered mind have made it impossible to tell you just one cohesive story.

Brace yourselves.

It started with the laundry. I did laundry in the bathtub yesterday, and the murky, rather sinister charcoal color of the swirling water left me with the distinct impression that I owed every member of my team a personal apology. I feel like Pig Pen on Charlie Brown. And speaking of laundry, I am quite forward to wearing clothes that don’t look something that Grandma Moses would wear.

Which I can do in just twenty-four days. Has it hit you yet? I’m still wallowing in disbelief.

Yesterday, a group of Talibe boys were begging for spare change near a local bakery. I bought as many pain au chocolates as would fit in a bag, and promptly began to place them in the grubby, excited hands desperately vying for my attention. Without warning, I suddenly found myself mobbed by a group of approximately 15 hungry boys-each of whom wanted to make sure that he didn’t miss out on a chocolate roll. All 5’2 of me tried to look larger than life as I held the bag over my head and used my best stern “Senegalese Mom” voice and each of the seven words of Wolof I could remember at the time. [It’s baffling how little “Crazy no in the name of Allah!” did to deter them.] Indifferent to the petite brunette babbling incoherently, little boys scaled me like a jungle gym while older ones successfully ripped rolls out of the bag over my head. Michelle played the knight in shining armor to my damsel in distress, and I left covered in over-eager, sticky chocolate finger prints.

Last Sunday, Michelle, Christy, Karen and I braved the relentless African sun and crammed our sweaty bodies into a rickety, rather suspect looking yellow taxi. In a stroke of cultural brilliance, we decided to ask our Wolof-speaking taxi driver to stop on the side of the bustling, dusty road so Michelle could hop out and buy a carton of eggs on the way back to our apartment. These, mind you, are open cartons containing thirty filthy eggs that are covered in a thick layer of gray feathers and chicken poo-poo that can only be removed by enriched plutonium. Michelle successfully managed to procure just such a carton, and cheerfully rejoined the rest of us waiting in the oven masquerading as our ride home. I was sandwiched in the backseat between Karen and Michelle, absentmindedly observing the bustling, dusty African ghetto we were slowly sputtering through, when Michelle’s scream pierced the relative calm. Startled, I turned to find her holding the oversized egg carton towards me as a giant roach crawled out from between the eggs. Horrified, I began to holler at the top of my lungs as I lunged on top of Karen and begged Michelle to simply toss the whole mess out of the window-indifferent to her panicked pleas for help. [I would give that dear girl one of my $160,000 kidneys if she needed it, but she’s on her own with the roaches.] Meanwhile, our taxi driver was busily attempting to ascertain what in the name of Allah was causing the hullaballoo in his back seat. As the crescendo of our shrill, white-girl screams stopped passerby’s in their tracks, my Wolof Prince Charmant pulled stopped the car in the middle of the dirt road, wrenched the carton from Michelle with an indifferent eye roll, and promptly squished the offending roach with his fingers. He then proceeded to hold it up for us, as if to say “Hey, pansy white girl-it’s just a bug”. [And let me tell you, that little gem translates across languages and cultures all over the world.] Undaunted, we enthusiastically applauded him and sung his praises the rest of the way home.

No, really. I actually sung.

I have run literal holes in my tennis shoes. Help me, Rhonda.

We’re hosting a STINT recruitment night for our summer project on Thursday. I’ll tell them about Mohammad

Sophie Bop.

the fruit stand man, team chocolate chip pancake nights, roach eggs and mangos.

I’ll also tell them about Sophie Bop. She came over for lunch this week, and quietly told me “everything I have learned about Jesus, I have learned from you.”  No one had ever told her about Jesus before Christy and I moved to Africa two years ago.

Which is inexcusable, and heartbreaking. Those are the moments in which I wonder how on earth I’ll actually leave this place.

Sophie’s story will come later this week. But for now, my frazzled nerves need a break. And my feet need a pedicure.

Just twenty-four days. Half way there, and living on a prayer.

…a prayer, and mangos. So many mangos.

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Filed under Cross cultural hilarity, Ministry moments, My ghetto-fab life, Summer project, The daily grind

Beneath the Mango Tree. [Drop the Chimichanga.]

Dancing it out. One of aproximately two coping mechanisms I have left in this country-and how I coped with this particular story.

It all started yesterday, under the mango tree.

Jack Johnson likes to sing about sitting under mango trees, but the cynic in me wonders if he’s ever actually done it.

However, this story is not about Jack Johnson. This story, I’m sorry to say, is about my derrière. [Badonkadonk, for the southern demographic.]

My derrière, and how I found myself sitting mortified under the mango tree, wondering why on earth I hadn’t decided to become a dentist instead.

You see, I hadn’t exactly planned on talking about my tookus. [Not that one is ever truly prepared for that sort of thing.] Yesterday afternoon, Michelle and I trudged through the blistering, African sand to campus to meet Miriam, Fatou and Coumba under the mango tree to talk about Jesus. Which, by the way, we did. However, the conversation took a startling turn for the worse when Miriam started talking about boys.

Miriam: Ashley, Senegalese men think you are very beautiful.

…well, bless. Merci, Miriam. That’s sweet.

Coumba: [chiming in happily] Oh yes, very beautiful! You look very, very nice to Senegalese men.

…okay, now I’m uncomfortable. I don’t want to look very very nice to Senegalese men.  In fact, I go to great lengths to not look very very nice to Senegalese men. Or any man on this continent, for that matter. When was the last time I brushed my hair? Do I still own a hair brush? Is this real life? Help me, Rhonda.

Miriam: [Reassuringly] Yes, Senegalese men, they like you very much because you have a big down.

…cricket.

Come again?

A big down. A big down. A big d…

Sigh.

I would later discover that “down” is Wolof for “hiney”.

And apparentment, I have a big one. Someone should have pried the hohos away from me back in November. Friends don’t let friends eat hohos!

Write that down.

Miriam: Senegalese men, they like big downs. And you, you have a nice, big down. It is bigger than all the other downs-it is bigger than Michelle’s down. Her down is good, but you have a very good down.

Michelle, mind you, was unsuccessfully trying to suppress raucous laughter whilst determining how long she could egg the girls on before I clobbered her with a chimichanga.

She has since been upgraded to a queen-sized bed, jacuzzi tub junior suite in hell.

Fatou seized the opportunity to render her opinion on the matter. “Oh yes, it is the Tiebou Dienne! [Senegalese rice and fish.] The rice gives you a big down.

Yes, Fatou. Your stupid rice in this stupid country has gone straight to my butt. Who moves to Africa and GAINS weight!? 

And so there I sat, feeling for all the world like the pathetic “before” picture on a Jenny Craig commercial, surrounded by mountains of chocolate cupcakes and greasy fast food bags. Oblivious to my inner turmoil, the women regaled me with stories of why a behind like mine is a veritable gold mine in Senegal, while my flustered mind raced to determine how I could squeeze in a run before dinner time.

Because sadly, this wasn’t my first rodeo. On a sun-streaked afternoon last March, my friend Aida looked at me with an air of deceptive charm, and sweetly commented: “Ashley, you are très belle. You should enter the beauty pageant to become Miss Senegal!”

Be still my beating heart-it was the most precious thing I’d heard in a month of Sundays. Wildly amused, I fleetingly pictured a white girl running for Miss Senegal-but then quickly dismissed that particular entertaining mental picture.

Merci beacoup Aida, but I don’t think I can enter that pageant.

Aghast, she looked at me with all of the indignant fervor of tie-dyed hippie chained to a tree, and exclaimed, “Mais, Ashley, c’est absolutement parfait! It is for women with, how do you say, …big a**.”

[You’ll have to excuse Aida. She’s learned most of her English from MTV.]

And I died a thousand deaths.

Sometimes, Africa just kicks you when you’re down.

Or in the down.

I’m off to find a hoho.

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Filed under Cross cultural hilarity

Help Me, Emily Post!

Early on in Dakar, I made it clear to my Senegalese friends that no subject was off limits. An innocent victim of cultural ignorance and sheer naiveté, I hadn’t the foggiest idea that over the next two years, I would spend countless hours fielding invasive, intensely personal questions about my love life that Emily Post herself would be unable to handle gracefully.

The baffled expression of sheer horror on a Senegalese woman’s face when I tell her that I’m unmarried is something akin to what I imagine my Mother would look like if I sat her down and told her I’d decided to grow my hair to my feet and become a Moonie.

It doesn’t make sense to the western mind, but in a culture where ten year old girls are betrothed to men that they marry as soon as they hit puberty, a twenty-three year old woman who’s working and unmarried is somewhat of a anomaly. The assumption is that there must be something dreadfully wrong with me-as seen in the pitying looks of Muslim friends that have, in an attempt to rectify my unfortunate marital status, offered to cornrow my hair,  slim me down, dress me up, teach me to cook,  and help me master the subtle art of flirting.

Personally, I think I would be much too irresistible with cornrows. The world is not ready-it simply wouldn’t be fair to the male population at large.

Given that I apparently passed my expiration date years ago, well intentioned friends have sweetly offered to marry me off to their brothers, uncles and cousins. Lucky old maid that I am, I have my pick of the litter! Never mind that I have a boyfriend back home-because goodness, this is an emergency! A select, hopeless few have involuntarily committed me to a life of celibacy, and are of the rather dismal opinion that it’s time for me to buy a pair of overalls, saw off a shotgun, settle into a back-country rocking chair and start picking off pigeons from the porch.

…or the Senegalese equivalent.

Miriam, however, isn’t buying me cats quite yet. As one of the few women I know that is more tolerant of my “alternative lifestyle”, her big question for me this week was not when I’m getting married-but how many babies I want to have.

Help me, Emily Post!

It’s a question that I’m intimately familiar with-and the ramifications of answering it truthfully are always the same. You see, my African counterparts come from families that make Mike and Carol Brady look just lazy. Enormous families are expected and lauded-many of the women I interact with ardently believe that my life will be utterly wasted and devoid of all meaning if I have fewer than seven.

[Hamsters eat their young. I’m not sure how that’s relevant-but it needed to be said.]

I hemmed and hawed for a moment, and without missing a beat that charming girl stared straight into my soul with a startling air of assured finality and proclaimed:

Bon. You will have many twins!

*cricket

many twins?

She was being thoughtful. After all, in Senegal, twins are considered to be good luck! In Ashley’s world, however, twins are considered to guarantee stretch marks and dark circles under ones eyes for no less than five years.

Twins. The very word made my ears bleed.

Miriam, I don’t want twins.

 Yes you do! I will pray for it every day.

 This was about when the color started draining from my face and into my trembling toes.

Miriam, seriously! Don’t pray for that!

With a confused look about her, Miriam paused for the briefest moment before a slow understanding brightened her brown eyes.

Ah bon! I will pray for triplets.

I surrender. Somebody tell me where I can get a shotgun.

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Filed under Cross cultural hilarity, My ghetto-fab life, Senegalese culture, The daily grind

The Dangers of the Chocolate Swamp.

My Candy Land buddy.

The daily grind in Dakar is something akin to a life-sized game of Candy Land. Your outlook can change on a dime-one minute you’re strolling down Gumdrop Lane, and before you can say “Lord Licorice”, you suddenly find yourself flailing around in the Chocolate Swamp while the four year old beside you is smugly prancing through the Peppermint Forest at the finish line.

To confess that I have fleeting moments of complete irrationality in Senegal would do an injustice to the total break from reality I experienced just four short days ago, when without the slightest warning I found myself wallowing in the Chocolate Swamp.

I know. It doesn’t make sense. …but if you’d only lived in Senegal as long as I have, you’d understand why some of the cultural nuances that once struck me as rather charming-or at the very least, pitiable-now leave me daydreaming about medicating the entire country and corralling them into a padded room with a ping pong table and hand puppets.

Crumbling mascara and crumbling composure are a part of the job.

Truly, I ought to celebrate our cultural differences. And I know it. But there are days where I simply cannot laud-and indeed, can barely tolerate-Senegal’s less-than-charming “cultural differences”.

And last Thursday was just such a day.

I was on my walk [the little legs that couldn’t are still working up to the running thing], making my way towards the beach. I was ambling down one of the approximately three existing sidewalks in Dakar-my face blankly arranged into an expression of competent invisibility that seems to off-set some of the attention a white girl wandering through a third world African city tends to attract.

Now, hold the phone. If you’re not familiar with the traffic situation in Dakar, take a stroll down memory lane with me and read this little gem. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, and you’ll become entirely convinced that I will never again step foot onto American soil.

[And you will probably be correct.]

So there I was, strolling determinedly down Gumdrop Lane [the sidewalk], IPod blaring, dark sunglasses firmly in place, staring blankly through the curious stares of everybody around me.

And all of the sudden, from out of nowhere, a big white bus veered off the busy road and onto my sidewalk and started honking furiously at me.

Honking. At me. The pedestrian.

Would it be repetitive to remind you that I was on the sidewalk?

Hello, Chocolate Swamp.

The driver [a twenty-something Senegalese man] hung his head out the window and started scathingly hollering in Wolof. Now, I don’t speak Wolof-but I didn’t need to. You idiot white girl-what are you doing on the sidewalk?! The SIDEWALK of all places!? What do you think the sidewalk is FOR? For the love of Allah, move.

It was a little thing-just the sort of cross-cultural moment that happens a thousand times over during the course of a normal day in Dakar. The sort of thing that barely captures my attention any more-and normally, I would have deftly stepped out of the way without so much as an eye-roll.

But that day, it was simply the tip of the ice burg. And something inside of my western little body snapped.

Because where I come from, pedestrians have the right of way. In fact, pedestrians own the sidewalk! We have glorious contraptions like stoplights and cross walks and speed limits-and you know what? It’s the way the world should be. God bless America.

So there I stood, frozen. Staring down that [still moving!] bus driver with every ounce of stubborn tenacity in my little body, utterly convinced in that moment that allowing that bus to pass would usher in the fall of human civilization as we know it. Indignant patriotism welled up inside me-I had an almost irresistible compulsion to throw my hand over my heart and belt out the Star Spangled Banner.

It didn’t even occur to me to move. It was me against the bus-and standing on that sidewalk, I was entirely prepared to end up dead as a testament to the sheer stupidity of s system in which there are no rules. Death would have been. so. worth it. I was going to teach Senegal-no, the WORLD-a lesson! Give me liberty or give me death-but either way, give me my sidewalk.

Heated sparks flying from my eyes as I tried to look larger than my diminutive 5’3 frame normally allows-standing resolutely [and very much alone] in the middle of that sidewalk with an expression that suggested I do things like bench press refrigerators in my spare time. Nobody puts baby in a corner, and nobody tells me that I have to move. Cars slowed to a grinding halt and stared, passer-bys stopped in their tracks and started shouting at me to get out of the way as the bus steadily crept towards the lone white girl girl staging a silent protest in all of her ugly-American glory.

And then, it hit me.

Not an understanding of just how ridiculous I looked, or a healthy dose of cultural sensitivity.

The bus.

And I walked away.

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Filed under Cross cultural hilarity, My ghetto-fab life, Senegal, The daily grind