A Whole New World

February 26, 2009
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Are we there yet? I asked myself. Groggy but awake, I sat up in my seat and opened the window. The rising sun had not yet made enough of an appearance to light up the world except to ever-so-slightly. I could see the outline of land getting closer and closer every time I blinked.
Three minutes passed and I came to a sudden and obvious realization. I'm in Africa. This is not a dream. I sat there, staring intently from the airplane at the ground below. That's African dirt down there!
Thirty minutes came and went and I found myself at the bottom of a huge staircase attached to the side of the airplane. A man, probably in his thirties and just as tired than I was, waited patiently for me to hand him my passport as I stood in silence, taking in the warm, humid air and the beautiful scenery around me.
We, meaning my brother, mother, grandmother, and I, got on a bus that would take us to the main terminal of the Dakar International Airport. Luggage in tow, we went up to the immigration booth. I handed him my papers and my passport, still sleepy and painfully aware that I hadn't eaten any breakfast yet.
'Vous restez o' a Dakar?' (Where are you staying in Dakar?)
'Comment?' (What?) In my almost unconscious state I was surprised to find that this man was actually talking to me. Kindly, he repeated himself.
'Je restes avec ma famille dans l'appartement d'un ami,' I responded, telling him that we were staying at a friend's apartment.
It ended up taking ten entire minutes of explaining and arguing in both French and Wolof (the most common language in Senegal) by a kind stranger to get the point across that we were, in fact, staying at an apartment, though we did not know its address. Finally, after he had had enough of the silly American girl, he graciously let me pass through.
We had nothing to declare at customs, so we passed our baggage through one last scanner and walked out of the airport.
I'm in Africa!





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