Category Archives: Cross cultural moments

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!


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

In Which I Paid a Visit to the Senegalese Emergency Room.

Some of the girls that have kept me sane while I've rocked this whole bedrest thing.

The first detail that simply must be clarified about said “Emergency Room” is that it was exactly that: a literal room in a clinic in downtown Dakar with the word “emergency” clearly labeled on the door.

But let’s back this train up and talk about how it came to pass that at eleven PM on Friday night, I found myself being carried into that dilapidated little room in that ghetto-fabulous little clinic, staring at the single most gargantuan roach I have ever seen in my life crawling menacingly across the floor and begging the nurse on duty [read: the ONLY medical professional on duty] to lull me into a coma with copious amounts of Mexican narcotics.

…or something like that.

About a month ago, I noticed a big red bump on my leg. It felt like a bruise, but only hurt if I touched it-so being the child-prodigy that I am, I decided not to touch it and went about my life. I mean, when you live in Africa, you become intimately acquainted a host of foreign maladies disrupting the course of your day-to-day–most of which eventuallywork themselves out given enough time and Cipro.  [And THAT is only funny to you if you’ve spent time in Senegal before.] I simply assumed the thing that had taken up residence on my shin was some sort of spider bite that would eventually fade.

Kellan stayed up with me on Friday night cheating at 20 questions via skype and trying to get me diagnosed from an ocean away, and Christy has been catering to my every whim since I was exiled to the couch. So. Spoiled.


Unfortunately, that blasted little bump decided to unpack, hang up curtains and stick some garden gnomes in the front yard. I mean, it moved in.   And last week in the days leading up to the best Christmas party EVER [not to be confused with the Best Christmas Pageant Ever, which is an absolutely phenomenal book that you should RUN to check out of the library], all of it’s redneck cousins showed up for the holidays

Danielle actually read part of the latest issue of InStyle to me on skype yesterday. Greater love hath no woman than this.

with their double wide trailers and coon dogs, and seven new bumps appeared on both of my shins.

The night before our party, I typed in my list of symptoms to webmd, and pushed a handy little button that was supposed to deliver a diagnosis.  That exceedingly helpful little website promptly informed me that I had herpes. [Which, I assure you, is entirely impossible.]

Now, let’s talk about what I was really concerned about, here. On Friday morning, I threw on a dress for our Christmas party, and came to the startling realization that my legs and feet more closely resembled swollen polish sausages uncomfortably stuffed into an all-too-small flesh-colored casing.

Don’t. Don’t you dare go back and look at the pictures from the party. Just take my word for it and let’s move on.

Michelle's done everything from translate to helping Dayton track down my meds to running and getting me chocolate macaroons. Which, clearly, are a critical component to the healing process.

Well on Friday, by the time the drag queen angel had announced beanie baby Jesus’ birth and the wisepeople had delivered his .99 cent light up Walmart snowman, I was in a pretty significant amount of pain. I made dinner, and then sprawled out on my living room floor with my feet propped up on a chair, as short bursts of fire began to shoot up my throbbing sausages legs. Three hours and half a bottle of advil later, the pain was absolutely dizzying and I was in tears. My force to be reckoned with roommate [Christy] was on the phone with SOS [our emergency medical care provider] to try and figure out what on earth you do with a medical crisis at eleven o’clock at night in the middle of third-world-Dakar.

Nothing fazes that girl. Not a thing.

What happened next is a bit of a blur for me-I remember Michelle finding my passport, Ben ignoring my vehement protests and scooping me up to carry me downstairs to the waiting taxi, and Christy calmly acquiescing to my

Dayton dropped everything to translate all my symptoms into french, get me to and from the doctor, find a pharmacy to pick up my meds...

 impassioned declarations that under no circumstances would I consent to being stuck with any sort of needle [though at that point, I might have made an exception for the aforementioned Mexican narcotics], or staying overnight in the hospital.

I spent that taxi ride doubled over as waves of pain rolled up and down my legs. For a million dollars, I wouldn’t be able to tell you how long we were in the car-but eventually, we rolled to a bumpy stop, and Dayton, Christy and Michelle dragged me into the clinic.

Where, if you’ll remember, there was a dingy gray hall with a dingy, gray door clearly labeled “EMERGENCY”.

Accuracy in labeling is so important, don’t you think?

I eased onto the gurney, and the aforementioned [and clearly unconcerned] nurse sauntered in and asked me what the problem was.

My legs are on fire. I think I have gangrene. And leprosy. And apparently herpes. Is this real life?


He poked and prodded, with me moaning and an irate Christy standing watchfully over me looking for all the world like she was ready to deck that man in the face. [Which, she later confessed, she very nearly did.]

And then without taking my medical history, asking for allergies, or running a single test, the brilliant man proclaimed, “Well, that looks like it hurts. You should see a specialist tomorrow. Want a shot for the pain?”

Begone, Satan. I think webmd was more helpful.

Michelle took over and got me a prescription for an African narcotic [safe!] to tide me over until my doctor’s appointment the next day. [A man who proved to be only slightly more helpful than webmd.]

We’re still in the process of figuring this thing out-but I’m on bedrest [or given the fact that I don’t have a bed, matrest] and thus, not in nearly as much pain anymore. My greatest concern at this point is being able to run in the reindeer trot on Friday-because let me tell you, my costume is fantastic.


Filed under Cross cultural moments, My favorite people, Team

Of Drag Queen Angels, and a Beanie Baby Jesus.

My second year of STINT [better known as “STINT: The Remix”] has become my proverbial second child-thus, I have taken very few pictures. This week I worked to remedy that. Now, they say that a picture is worth a thousand words-and so today I’m going to let mine do most of the talking.

This is the finished product. Charlie Brown Mohammad Jose. Don’t you just love him?

Fatou Ba had Michelle and I over for lunch this week. The sweet girl made Tiebou Yoppe because she knows it’s my favorite.

Michelle with Fatou Ba [in pink] and the rest of the gang. We had a rousing conversation with her boyfriend regarding the minute little detail that he’s allowed to have four wives, and she’s only allowed to have one husband.

Commence the hilarity. :) On Friday, we hosted a Christmas party for aproximately 45 of our students. We played a number of different games, among which was “pin the star on the tree”. In a concerted effort to inspire our students to go green, we cut all of the stars out of old magazines. [On second thought, it may have had something to do with the fact that we didn’t have any normal paper. My memory is a bit hazy.]

I know I’m not supposed to have favorite-but if I did, Miriam would absolutely be one of them. I adore this girl.

Pin the star on the Christmas tree had multiple amusing outcomes, among which was the occasional star ending up on someone’s head…

We taught them some Christmas carols!

For the rest of my life,  I think I may tear up when I sing “God and sinners reconciled”. Don’t let that line slip by unnoticed this Christmas. Don’t let that line slip by unnoticed any Christmas.

“Emmanuel-God with us”. With you and me. How beautiful is that? What a vastly different idea from what these Muslim students believe-that Allah is distant and unconcerned with their lives.

Okay, this is where it gets good. We projected the Christmas story out of Luke onto the wall, and read it together. THEN, I asked for ten volunteers, who were given a bag of props and a couple of minutes to figure out how they were going to act the whole thing out.

While the Christmas story was read again, they filed into our crowded kitchen and performed a very ghetto-fabulous rendition of the story of Jesus’ birth. [A story that some of them had just heard for the very first time minutes earlier.] This is Mary…

…who looked slightly more like Bon Qui Qui. Here’s the unhappy couple being told that there was simply no room in the inn. For a moment there, I thought the innkeeper was so sorry for them that he was going to go ahead and find them a spare corner, effectively destroying the whole thing. Never fear-Martin stood strong, and kicked them to the curb stable.

Much to my great chagrin, Adama gave a very stirring, disturbing picture of the pain Mary must have endured during labor. Oh, yes.  As I stood in the corner wincing and breaking out in cold sweats, she sprawled out on the floor, huffed, puffed and groaned until a beanie baby Jesus popped out. With a very concerned Mohammad Joseph bracing her from behind and looking for all the world like an expectant Father.

And here we have our drag queen angel, who with incredible flair [and not a little bit of va-va-voom] announced the birth of the Messiah with all of the delicate poise of an overly-enthused drunken sailor.

Here we have one of the wisemen giving beanie baby Jesus His gift. What baby wants myrh when you can have light-up plastic snowman from Walmart?

The three wisemen. Er, wisepeople.

The greatest regret of my young life will forever be not getting that skit on video! On a serious note, as fun as it was, it was also a fantastic way to teach our students why we really celebrate Christmas.

Our next activity was a Charlie Brown dance-off. We selected five volunteers [read: I goaded five people into volunteering, two of whom were Ted and Michelle], showed them the clip of all the Peanuts characters dancing, and then the participants were instructed to pick one of the dances and mimic it. The closest immitation won-as measured by the  good old applause-o-meter.

Marie [pink zebra stripes] won. Michelle came in dead last. I think she wants a rematch.

As Forest Gump would say-that’s all I have to say about that.

Stay tuned for my next blog, tenatively titled “In Which I Visited the Senegalese Emergency Room.” Now there’s a good story! [And clearly, it all worked out in the end and I’m fine. There goes my cliff-hanger ending…]

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Filed under Christmas, Cross cultural hilarity, Cross cultural moments, Ministry moments

Of Carols and Cardboard. [TIA.]

With Melanie this summer-someone who back in high school, turned me onto the joy that is chocolate for breakfast.

Breakfast this morning consisted of one pot of coffee and an oreo.

Because I’m an adult, and I get to decide what that means.

On Monday, my team and I had grand plans of spending our evening watching Frosty come to life and drinking cinnamon apple cider while we finished our cardboard Charlie Brown tree. [Affectionately dubbed Charlie Brown Mohammad Jose. By far the most multi-cultural little tree I’ve ever ornamented.] 

There’s a phrase we throw around on this foreign continent of mine: “TIA”. It stands for “This is Africa”-and is the sole appropriate response to a myriad of nonsensical cultural situations that might be thrust upon you during the course of any given day.  Customarily accompanied by an indifferent [albeit rather amused] shrug and slight rolling of the eyes, it becomes a sort of mantra for those of us that live here-the barest shred of reason to cling to in a sea of crazy. Par example:

The Indian Squaw himself.


Why is there chocolate brown water pouring out of the faucet? TIA.

Why were there thirty six tiny spider bites on my neck and arms this morning when I woke up? TIA.

Why is there a baby goat in the stairwell? TIA.

Why is my rice moving? TIA.

Or as the case was on Monday, “WHY has the power been off all day?”  …all together now: TIA.  And in Africa, electricity is as elusive a gift as the North Carolina snow flurries I’m missing back home.

Dayton with Charlie Brown Mohammad Jose. I told him to say "ho ho ho".

Which is just fine, until it interferes with Frosty and apple cider.

Now, the best way to spread Christmas cheer is by singing loud for all to hear-and that’s just what Michelle, Christy and I decided to do by pumpkin-spiced candlelight while waiting for the power to flicker back on. [Take THAT, baby downstairs!] We sang every carol we could remember-and many that we mostly couldn’t. [Humming through the words that escape you has to count for something, right?] I’m certain our neighbors were busy fantasizing about the three of us getting hit by a car rapide as we cheerfully belted the lyrics to everything from sacred hymns to Santa Baby.

After no less than an hour and a half, a highly amused Dayton wandered downstairs with a Bunsen burner [Apple cider. And everybody said amen.] and a Tupperware full of peanut m&ms. I wish you could have seen him on the porch, crouched over that tiny, open flame like an Indian squaw, carefully stirring cloves and cinnamon into apple juice. Meanwhile, our underwear hanging on the laundry line behind him danced in the wind like vibrantly colored Tibetan prayer flags in every possible shade of the rainbow . [And when the strains of Mariah Carey busting out her falsetto to tell you the only thing she wants for Christmas are coming from the general direction of my laptop in the background, you can hardly expect underwear to do anything else.]

Note: every man on my team is going to need extensive therapy after this year. Having three faux-wives is no stale cookie! [Well, “piece of cake” clearly isn’t contextual…]

The power eventually flickered on just long enough for Frosty to sing his opening number before it melted away again. Thus, the tree isn’t quite finished yet [oh, but just you wait! It’s coming along…], and we’re ever so slightly behind on our Christmas-movie schedule. Never fear.

In other news, tonight is our first women’s Bible study for the girls on campus that follow Jesus. We’ve invited thirteen women to come-THIRTEEN! This time last year, Christy and I didn’t know a single woman that professed faith in Christ. THIS is exciting!

Also, YESTERDAY we got a phone call informing us that on Thursday [TOMORROW], a Jesus film team is landing in Dakar to spend about ten days doing ministry on campus. And we’re responsible for their little white butts. Where are they going to live? How are they getting clean water? Who’s going to spend the five hours it will take to get permission for them to be on campus?



[We are, however, very excited about the surprise help. :)]


Filed under Christmas, Cross cultural moments, Ministry moments, My ghetto-fab life

Of Crunched Prayer Beads. [Oops.]

Stories like this one make me miss girls like these ones. Both of whom might easily find themselves in the exact same situation...

Where did we leave off?

That’s right, with me on the beach in my trampy outfit.  My team and I had made plans to eat by the ocean that Friday night, and then to hop in a couple of the filthy, canary yellow, precarious death traps masquerading as taxis and head to an ice cream shop [called, get this: NICECREAM] downtown. And with the promise of flavors like “Obama ice cream”, how could we possibly go wrong?

 Because I’m simply mad about using time efficiently, we arranged for everybody to meet me with dinner in hand, on the beach at the very end of my run. [Let’s talk about who came out on top in that deal…]

 Well what I’d failed to take into consideration in my meticulous planning was the critical, minor detail that during said jaunt from the beach to downtown Dakar, I would still be in my running clothes.

The best laid plans.

But what’s a girl to do? By the time I realized what I’d done, we were eating chicken pasta and caprice on a cliff by the ocean while the sun slowly bowed offstage to the Atlantic’s standing ovation, in a theatrical waltz of purples and reds. [Life is hard.]

We finished our al fresco dinner, and then divided up into two groups to hop into those aforementioned taxis, head downtown, and try to find an ice cream place that none of us ACTUALLY knew how to get to.  If you’ve lived internationally, a slow smile just crept across your face because you understand what it is to hop in a car with a complete stranger that does not speak your language, and drive off into the foreign unknown without the foggiest idea of exactly where you’re headed and even less idea as to where you’ll actually end up.

Ben, Ted and I hailed a taxi, and gave a very nice Wolof-speaking gentleman the general area of town we were aiming for, hoping that we’d spy Nicecream on the way. No such luck. After about twenty minutes of aimless driving, one very frustrated Senegalese taxi driver dropped three rather baffled, very lost STINTers on the side of the road, and sputtered off into the night in a glorious blaze of exhaust and smoke.

It was thus that I found myself downtown in a Muslim, African country at nine o’clock at night, wearing running shorts and a tank top.


Because we’re survivors [cue Destiny’s Child!] and I was once a Girl Scout for three and a half whole weeks, we immediately found the nearest tree and looked for moss to ascertain the direction of due north.

…or we would have, had we been able to find so much as a bush.  But we live in Dakar, and consequently had to settle for wandering aimlessly in the dark, hoping we would somehow bump into Nicecream.

I felt for all the world, like I did the time my Mom found a stash of approximately twenty six thousand tootsie roll wrappers under my bed. You know those hand-in-the-cookie-jar moments as a kid when you get caught doing something you’re entirely guilty of, and there’s not a darn thing you can do except stand there with an abashed, sheepish look on your face?

That was me in my running clothes, bumbling around my Muslim city in the dark.

Now, you have to understand that I’m almost never out at night-once the sun sets, I’m not allowed outside of my apartment without one of the men. And while I understand the reasoning behind that, I do dearly miss evenings spent outside. I really love nighttime. All that to say, in all of my excited, distracted enthusiasm at being outside in the cool dark, I didn’t even notice what I’d done until he grabbed me.

In fact, I wasn’t even sure who “he” was-I never saw him. All I knew was that suddenly and without warning, someone was angrily clutching my arm. Instinctively, I ripped it away and turned heatedly to face the offender-Ben and Ted right behind me.  

…and that’s when understanding slowly dawned. My nemesis was a Senegalese man standing carefully on his prayer rug-which along with his prayer beads, I had just stepped on in all of my scandalous, ugly-American glory.

You see, for a Muslim man to even think of praying, he has to perform a lengthy ritual washing process known as an ablution.  It’s incredibly detailed-instructions are precisely dictated for every step-from the kind of water you are permitted to use to wash yourself, to the order, number of times, and manner in which you wash your different body parts. A lengthy list of offenses will invalidate your ablution-and thus, prevent Allah from hearing and accepting your prayers. Amongst said list, is touching a woman.

And there I was, standing guiltily in my shorts on a very irate Muslim man’s prayer rug with his brown string of prayer beads crunched under my tennis shoe. Somebody ought to have just slapped a scarlet “A” on my forehead and called it a day.

Missionary fail. The poor guy had to be convinced he was going to hell six times over for that one.

As Ben and Ted joined me in a frenzied, apologetic chorus of “desolee’s”, we quickly backed away and got the heck out of dodge.

On the bright side, that Obama flavored ice cream was delish.


Filed under Cross cultural moments, Islamic theology

That’s Why the Lady Is a Tramp.

A beach run with my brother during a North Carolina November-a much more palatable time to wear sleeves! And it doesn't hurt that he carries me when I get tired of running...:)

I’m going to need a couple minutes of judgment-free reading from you. Deal? Perfect.

You see, there’s just something about a white girl running alone in Dakar.

I don’t know what it is. It was around week three last year in Senegal when I finally mustered up every ounce of gumption that I had and dug my running shoes out of my electric blue duffel bag. [Because it took so long to find a place to live in Dakar, Christy and I spent our first eight weeks in Senegal living a sort of vagabond existence out of our suitcases.] Ever-mindful of the inescapable fact that I had just moved to a Muslim country, I dutifully channeled my inner Mennonite,  cast a longing glance at the running shorts and tank tops taunting me from the bottom of my bag, and threw on long running pants and a t-shirt.

[I should note that it had been years since I’d run in anything but a tank top and shorts. I one day intend to write an impassioned manifesto detailing how much I loathe, despise and abominate  sleeves, but we’ll save that one for now.]

It was probably 106 degrees outside. Which, I am fairly certain, is hotter than hell.

With a touch of trepidation [I’d never run alone in a Muslim country before] and that tenacious streak that tends to get me into trouble over here, I cranked up Christy’s ipod [tragically, mine had decided to commit hari kari ten hours before I boarded my flight to Dakar], and cut straight to the beach that I still run on every day.  

I’ve talked about how beautiful and relaxing my beach runs are-what they’ve done for my walk with Jesus and my stress level, and how God has used hours spent by the pounding waves to make my heart more like His. And while all of those things are true, today we’re going to talk about the other half of the story.

You see, the thing about Senegal is…I don’t blend in. I can’t.  My white skin acts as a glaring testament to a simple fact that is continually reinforced throughout my days in Dakar: I do not belong here. Unwanted, probing attention is lavished on me from the moment I step out of my front door until I close it behind me at the end of the day.  That attention is compounded many times over when I’m running.

Some find me merely entertaining-after all, there aren’t a lot of women that run in Dakar. I am an enigma-a foreign oddity warranting catcalls and intrigued stares. But I find that I also make a lot of people angry. You have to understand that to many in Senegal, women are viewed at best as being merely decorative. They are something to be owned, much as we would think of a chocolate lab or a Honda Civic back in the US. A traditional Senegalese woman is expected to conduct herself with all of the quiet decorum of a Chia pet.

 …and I’ve never had very much at all in common with Chia pets.

There is something exceedingly offensive to some Senegalese men about the fact that I run. They see my white skin and yellow Nike’s from a mile away and assume that I’m a tramp for sale. [Much to my chagrin, Ben’s instinctual reaction to this is to begin negotiating a price. ;)] This, though, is where things can get ugly. I’ve been spit on, screamed at, grabbed, flashed, and pushed into oncoming traffic. I have the occasional glass bottle thrown at me from car windows, and sporadic inquiries of “how much?” I’ve been followed, dragged, hit on and hit.

I discovered quickly after I started running in Dakar, that it didn’t matter what I wore or how careful I was to maintain an impassive, icy expression and avoid eye contact-things were going to happen. Some runs-most in fact-would be largely uneventful, but some would make me cry. Thus, given the relentless heat and the fact that nothing made a difference anyways, I got tired of my Mennonite pretense after about a month and a half of  terribly sweaty runs-…and folded up the pants and dreaded sleeves in favor of long, men’s basketball shorts and tank tops.

Scandalous, I know. Call it my rumspringa. But if you’re going to be a trampy missionary, you’ve got to go big or go home.

Now, there’s a point to all of this. I need you to understand how it was exactly, that I recently found myself downtown at nine o’clock at night,  in the middle of a Muslim, African country,  in shorts and a tank top. Because that’s exactly where tomorrow’s story begins…

[Note: runs this year have been a bit better, given that I’ve recently discovered early morning runs when fewer people are out, and Ted has designated himself as my personal body guard.]

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Filed under Cross cultural moments, Senegal

Door Bells and Sleigh Bells and Schnitzel With Noodles

Le frigo miniscule.

I don’t have a doorbell. I do, however, have a delightfully convenient little button in my kitchen which when pressed, makes a shrill buzzing noise inside the men’s apartment upstairs! Go. Figure. We have no idea who installed it or why, but the ingenious apparatus has been there since Christy and I unpacked our three-duffel-bag-lives last year. I am, however, under strict instructions not to push it unless an anally specific set of criteria is met:

A. There is a lot of blood. The problem with this is that I haven’t the foggiest idea what constitutes as “a lot”. I mean, I’m not looking to be the girl that cried wolf here-my guess is that it’s probably somewhere in between “I nicked my leg shaving” and “I have a pitchfork lodged in my jugular.”

B. Somebody breaks into our apartment. Daddy, just stop reading and don’t think about it. [That goes for other team Dads as well.]

C. There is a “legitimate” emergency.

…and HERE we have our conundrum, ladies and gentlemen. There are endless miles of room for interpretation in that one little, loaded word. Par example, I have chocolate emergencies all the time. Legitimate emergencies in which I MUST have chocolate immediately or there’s an excellent chance I’ll end up on tomorrow’s episode of “America’s Most Wanted”. [In a concerted effort to keep me off national television, Dayton has a stash of Dove chocolate hidden in his room for just such harrowing moments.]

And what about boredom? Now there’s a crisis warranting swift, decisive action. You’d be stunned at just how much Christy doesn’t care to hear my thoughts on Schopenhauer’s influence on Nietzsche-which is precisely the sort of tirade that Ben has agreed to sit placidly through in exchange for my maintaining a facade of being mildly interested in the world of internet poker. […you can see how the boredom becomes a sort of vicious cycle.]

The third world variant of two dozen roses. Be still my beating heart. :)

And what’s a girl to do when she runs out of filtered water? The men have a water filter; we don’t. And the nine steps up to their apartment feel like the first ten minutes of Saving Private Ryan when I’m tired. And yet, the incredulity with which such requests are met would suggest that I’d just drop-kicked a golden retriever puppy or set fire to an orphanage.


Any clarification on what might comprise a “legitimate emergency” would be helpful-I’ve been informed that if I so much as bend that particular rule, they’re going to disconnect the thing. And Lord knows I’d have no idea how to fix it.

 But speaking of my favorite things, …I took my package slip to the post office early Monday morning. :) When I say “early”, I mean I was sitting on the front steps at 7:50 AM with all of the patience of a pig tailed, red flannel night gowned, five year old little girl on Christmas Eve with seven too many reindeer shaped sugar cookies in her, waiting for a rather foreboding looking guard to begrudgingly allow me inside. My post office boys met me at the door with an overly enthusiastic, albeit rather maudlin “Bon retour!” Let me tell you-when I walk into the post office, you’d think that Princess Di had just rolled up in her motorcade. Really, they L-O-V-E me. The sweet custom’s men are wrapped around my baby finger-not only do they not rip open and rifle through my boxes [something the men on my team have to endure], but I’m also charged next to nothing to get my packages out of “the cage” in the back. [Much to his chagrin, Ben has paid up to five or six times what I pay.] I could be hustling bricks of heroin and nobody would ever know. As it is, it’s mostly just brownie mix and coffee.

Our extreme home makeover! ...currently still endeavoring to febreeze the smell out of those cushions.

 …or as the case was on Monday, Halloween in a box! Kellan bought his way into my teammate’s hearts with personalized Halloween bags full of candy and neon plastic vampire teeth, and stole a piece of mine with a bubble wrapped Starbucks frappucino. As he has a tendency of doing, he made my week. :)

The rest of Monday was spent bargaining for an Oompa Loompa sized fridge and a rather underwhelming furniture set, listening to a Senegalese guy with dirty dreadlocks ardently swear on the name of Allah and several local cult leaders that he was charging us a fair price, talking said Senegalese guy down from said price, and then using the last of our Lysol wipes in what was most assuredly a futile attempt to de-germ couches and chairs that had been sitting on the side of the road for goodness only knows how long.

This week is on crazy pills-I think I need to sit down. Thank goodness I now have a couch…


Filed under Cross cultural moments, Joy, My favorite people, Team, The daily grind