Purgatory

Three and a half months in to Global Authorized Departure from Senegal, and it’s still unclear when I will return to Senegal. The U.S. Embassy Dakar is at Phase 1, meaning that things are still not great, but holding steady. COVID cases keep going up, but the infrastructure is holding steady. I did not anticipate being in the U.S. for so long, but my life has now assumed a new routine.

Still living in the AirBNB, still work Monday through Friday. My day is divided between meetings and trying to do some behind the scenes work on visas. The consular section remains unable to process routine visas, but it doesn’t mean I can’t try to get some files screened and ready for processing so that when we do open up, we will be a step ahead. So that takes up a lot of my day. I’ve also been taking remote French classes so that I won’t forget everything, doing online trainings, and updating some of our website language and SOPs. I guess it’s nice that we are able to catch up on some of these items, since normally we would be too busy.

I try to stay away from people as much as possible. Georgia cases are rising exponentially, and when I go to the grocery store, people ignore the “one way” aisles and don’t wear masks. In over three months, I have been to the grocery store less than half a dozen times. It’s stressful, and people do not seem to be taking things seriously. I guess it does not help that the governor of Georgia just prohibited any city or county from mandating mask wearing…while simultaneously encouraging mask wearing. Some confusing messaging all around for folks, I guess.

Diplokitties are still doing fine. They are enjoying spending more time with me, and I with them. Which is good, since when I go back to Senegal, I might not be able to bring them with me if the airlines aren’t accepting pets (which it looks like they are not). They’ll hang out with my parents until I get back to the U.S. for home leave.

Then again, I’m not even sure when that will be. My supervisor and I put in an extension for me to stay in Dakar awhile longer in February, and haven’t heard anything about it since. I am supposed to PCS (Permanent Change of Status) in December and in theory, I am supposed to know my onward assignment. With an uncertain timeline, it’s definitely difficult to figure that out. So now only is my near future unknown, but also my unknown future. Hopefully news will come soon either way. Every Monday I think “This is the week I will find out something” and every Friday I think “well, ok maybe next week.”

It is an uncertain time for the entire world, and I am lucky that I have a supportive family, good health, and a job that pays my bills. I will keep you updated.

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