I’m in the midst of a packing frenzy. On my last trip to Uganda, I decked myself out with bales of durable, wicking and wrinkle free outdoors clothing from REI and North Face in preparation for the heat, dust, and rough handwashing that my clothes would have to endure in East Africa. As it happened, I ended up showing up for my first day of work looking like SafariSam, with multi-pocketed hiking pants, a shirt marketed to Appalachian trail hikers, and a pair of hiking shoes on my feet. The Ugandan interns, meanwhile, went out to do fieldwork dressed in preposterously glamorous outfits, mincing on high heels and wearing flowing white cotton scarves around their hair. My easy-washing preparation paid off–the Ugandans came back spotless despite an hour-long trip in a bouncing 4X4 acros the countryside, while I came back coated in a curiously unshakeable red dust. Lesson learned: it’s not what you wear, it’s how you wear it.
For this trip I’m preparing more sensibly, packing clothes that will look good, be comfortable, and wash well in the more metropolitan setting of Dakar. I’m packing lightly: a laptop for work, some books, first-aid kit, and plenty of ultimate discs to distribute (pro-tip: Ultimate is the most portable sport EVER). It’s not too stressful, however. I have a better idea of what to prepare for than the last time I went to Africa, and if I forget anything then I’ll fend for myself once I arrive in Senegal.
Before I arrive in Dakar I’ve built in a flight layover in Paris, where I’ll spend three days staying with my awesome Brazilian friend Gui, who I met last semester studying at the University of Paris. It’ll be great to be back in the city again– friends that I studied abroad with are just wrapping up their spring semesters and I’m looking forward to hanging out with them during the day. It’s pretty cool to go back to Paris for a tourist length of time (just 3 days) but still feel like it’s a sort of homecoming, giving me an opportunity to revisit the friends, gardens, cafes, bars, and streets I became acquainted with during my time there.
From Paris I fly directly to to Senghor airport in Dakar, which conveniently is only a few kilometers from where my host family lives. My host family plans to meet me at the airport and see me home, which is convenient because although I have contact numbers to call I won’t yet have a phone to call them with.
3 continents in a week! It feels great to be preparing to travel again. Every time I leave the country it gets easier to pack up, mostly because I take less and less stuff with me.
And finally… some incredible Senegalese hip-hop. Check these guys out.