Well, I’ve been in Senegal for about a month now. I haven’t been able to post previously because I didn’t have good wifi until now. I’m getting settled in, I have my computer actually set up, and my apartment is finally feeling like a home. The diplokitties also seem to be doing OK. They enjoy gazing out the window at the many birds that live in my compound. I was able to screen in one of the porches so that they could go out there from time to time and get up close and personal with the birds, without actually killing them.
Work is interesting. I’m doing a little bit of everything – American Citizen services, immigration visas and a smattering of non-immigrant visas. It’s a small section, with a stellar local staff. The Embassy itself is gorgeous – situated on the western most tip of mainland Africa, I eat lunch overlooking the ocean. There is definitely no shortage of work to be done, but I feel like I can really contribute to the section here, and that makes the job even more worthwhile.
And what about when I’m off work? Starting life over when you don’t know anybody in a city (or even in the entire country!) is daunting. Learning how to buy groceries, figure out negotiating a taxi, learning where the safe and not-so-safe places are is exhausting. That said, Senegal has some great spots and I’m enjoying slowly checking them all out. I am still carless (but working on getting a car) and that limits me. Once I get some wheels, the road is mine! In the meantime, I’m relying on the kindness of strangers, who are becoming friends, to cart me around. I’ve been to the beach a couple of times and felt like I was in paradise each time. I guess I could get sick of sitting under the shade drinking a cold beverage and listening to the waves, but that may take me some time yet. Plus, the weather is just stunning at the moment. Breezy and sometimes even a little cool, the sun reigns over everything. And I’m really enjoying the food. Fresh fish, shrimp, and new foods like poulet yassa and thieboudienne. I am not going hungry!
I feel like I have barely scratched the surface of what Senegal has to offer. There are bird sanctuaries, national parks, mangroves, farmer’s markets, concerts, delicious restaurants, lively markets, a mall, movie theatres, a pink lake, desert dunes, gorgeous resorts, and more! Getting to know a foreign country is one of the reasons I wanted to join the State Department – unfortunately, that did not happen in Bangladesh due to the security restrictions. That makes coming here even more exciting. Senegal is generally safe (knock on wood) and developed. Plus, I hope to plan some awesome trips outside the country to to places like Morocco and Cape Verde.