Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Alex Alper...is back in Africa

“I’d really like to get something to drink, if you could help me. Euros are fine,” says the nice, cleanly dressed young man who has been “disinterestedly” helping me put my stuff in a cab at Senghor Airport in Dakar, Senegal at 2 Am.

I shake my head.

“Then how bout some kisses.”

I shake my head, and offer my hand out the window.

He shakes it, closes the door and disappears.

“Ugh” says the driver, in visible disgust, starting up the ignition.

“What,” thought I, “an ally in the driver, someone appalled by the opportunistic young man, cooly requesting nookie when money was denied?

“He didn’t shut the door.”

I chuckle, open and close my door again, and regain a little realism.

But everything is right. People are friendly, slow-moving, relaxed. The night air is soft, just barely cool and smells of the sea. The driver never forgives me for getting a bit of a deal (8 bucks for 10 minutes is hardly a deal, but less than the 10 bucks that are the norm for white passengers after midnight) and even tries to charge me another two bucks for the receipt. At no point, do I feel in danger.

I peel off my black clothes, meant to make me fit in during a day’s layover in Madrid, and instantly forget the chagrin at having had no boots like the other girls. I throw on a sundress, with bear arms, uneven seams, ready for sweat, wispy tangled hair and the translucent sunscreen that brings the scent of American drugstores with you everywhere. I pay for my room, head up for my shower. Even the cold water is pleasant, startling and a little harsh like getting clean should be. I’m back in Africa.


Blogger Dana and Guy Semmes said...

Dear Alex,

I'm so glad you suggested that I read your Blog. I wish Charlotte had been keeping one on her travels in India. I'm ready for your next installment. I gather this is the first. I didn't quite understand what it is you are doing, but I guess it's trying to evaluate how well Reuter's has trained several Senegalese journalists. If that's it, ok, I'm ready. Let's see what you've got.

With expectant waiting,


2:57 PM  

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