Truth is that my head can’t quite get a hold of where I am in the world.  One moment its in Podor.  Then to Dakar by sept-place with Babakar in the front seat.  Maimouna is sitting beside me, and I am watching her see her life pass before her eyes through a dirty car window that will not close completely.  This may be one of the last times she sees her Senegal home before her immigration to Spain with her husband and daughter.  Life will be so different.  Jibina is making cookie messes in the back, giggling and then sound asleep.  I wake her and she is fussy but silenced once she sees the milk.  Cadeele mowdo! Cookies are everywhere and she is tucking them into the pockets of the car.  Extra cookies?!  Few Senegalese kids have this luxury.

Then on a plane to DC.  To Denver.  To family and Papi.  And so we go to America to say what we can say.  But there is no way to say it.  We think we can always express just how great our love is with words.  But we can’t.  We love you family.

To New Mexico where I find myself bawling in my own backyard, my eyes blinded by how absolutely beautiful it is.  How green my once brown New Mexico now appears to me.  The pale green sagebrush blending into the deep iron reds and browns of the mesas.  The rich bright green of the cottonwoods shift to coral pinks and purples that pale as they disappear into the haze of the distant valley.  The absolute blue of a New Mexican sky, the smell of rain when the earth is revived, the sound of North American birds in the morning.  The clean hills and wildflowers appear like a postcard of a National Park–too clean.  It is too good to hear our families again.

To Seattle and Port Townsend for 4th of July.  Where am I?  The cold Pacific coast water makes me cold to the very bone.  Running through blackberry bushes and forests so thick that I cannot believe how overwhelmingly beautiful America is.  Harbor porpoises and rhinocerous auklets.  Family.

To New Mexico and then to Chicago, DC, Dakar again.  Dreading so much getting off the plane.  But finding myself laughing uncontrollably when a little Pulaar talibe approaches Paul with his hands palm up.  Monsieur Patrone?  Rokkam kaalis.  Kaa say-say.  Wonaa min, ko kanko.  Ko say-say. I forget how much I love this language.  How much I love Senegal already.  And that there is a small part of me that feels home here in a place where I really do not belong.

Back to Podor and now in Thies where we have been commuting back and forth between Ngekhokh and Thies every morning for our In-Service Training courses.  It is so good to see our old host family.  Our permaculture classes make me want to turn all our desert fields into full ecosystems with beans growing up moringa trees amid lettuce heads, basil, and hot peppers  whilst a complete army of bugs, animals, and microbes defend against pests.  Our life skills classes make me want to create girl groups to talk about all those hard-to-address issues: female genital cutting, teen-pregnancy, condoms, AIDS, rape.  There is so much amazing work waiting to get done.  I just hope that all this will be worth all that we are missing at home.

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3 responses to “

  • Jess

    I love you guys! Keep up the strength and bravery. Maddy, your writing is incredible.

  • Janine

    Your comments bring tears to my eyes, even on repeated reading. We take the beauty around us for granted; actually, we take life for granted far too often. Each day is a gift. To gaze with amazement at the wonder of the hummingbirds at the feeder is important. Thank you for reminding me to be grateful and to open my eyes to the beauty around me. Much love to you and Paul ~ Janine

  • joanna

    i am confident that all your amazing aspirations will turn into good that warrants the time you spend away from home – it makes me happy to see a little part of you already makes its home in senegal..

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