There is no nice way to put it. I am kinda a bitch in Senegal. Blame it on the fact I have become jaded by creepy Senegalese men. Or the reality that 90 percent of my daily interactions are not in my first language which forces me to be incredibly blunt (ahem, rude) so as nothing gets lost in translation. Or maybe it’s just the heat.
Anyways, here is the final installment in the Senegalese Bitch Monologues. These scenes demonstrate how my hardass level has achieved new heights. In all three of the moments I had to sit back and ask myself, what the hell happened? Why am I so angry? And why the hell is it so damn hot here?
[The scene: During a trip from Kedougou to Tambacounda the crack-of-dawn-bus I was traveling on breaks down in a small town just 20km outside Tamba. It is 7am so there are many Alhums (sweaty, crowded, Senegalese local transport) passing by. I can do two things, either get my bag off the top of the bus and fork over my own money and get on the next Alhum, or stick around and wait for the bus transport company to figure things out.]
Me (in Pulaar): Hey driver, what’s the problem?
Driver: The engine is broken. We called the office in Tamba, they are sending another bus.
Me: They sending another bus now, NOW?
Me: To take all the passengers and their baggage?
Me: Ok. I will wait.
[A half an hour passes. Instead of a bus a man on a moto shows up. He crawls under the broken down bus, takes a look, then wiggles out and makes some pronouncement in Wolof.]
Me: Hey driver, where is the bus? You told me a new bus was coming.
Driver: The office sent a mechanic. He says he can’t fix our bus.
Me: So when you told me earlier that a new bus was coming, you were lying.
Me: Did you know they were sending a mechanic and not a new bus?
Me: But you told me they were sending a bus.
Me: I think that is a lie. Or did you think I am so stupid I wouldn’t know the difference between a mechanic and a bus? Can he carry all of us and our baggage to Tamba? (To the other passengers) do you hear how this man lied? If he had told the truth we all could have taken an Alhum into Tamba and our journey would be over. Instead we are still here and all the morning Alhums are gone. This man lied to all of us. This is very bad.
[There is a murmur of agreement from the crowd. Some are genuinely angry others just amused at my frustration.]
Me: Driver how will you make this problem right?
Driver: I called the office they are sending a bus.
Me: How do I know you are telling the truth? You lied once, you are probably now.
[A few men in the crowd approach the driver and start yelling in Wolof. The driver walks away and places a phone call in Wolof, all I understand is the phrase “we have a problem”. Ten minutes later a shiny silver SUV pulls up. The driver throws my bag into the back seat.]
Driver: Get in.
Me: No way. Where is the bus. This is not a bus. I am not getting in.
Driver: The bus is coming. You are a loud woman. You are making problems so bosses at the office sent this car for you.
Me (speechless for a second, then evaluating the situation): Is there air conditioning?
Me: You will drop me off at my house and not at the bus office. I am tired and do not want to pay for a cab.
Driver: Yes, Yes.
Me (climbing into the SUV): And you will buy me a bean sandwich.
Driver: You are really annoying me white girl. Just get out of here before you make another problem.
Me: Fine. But next time I won’t be so nice.
Driver: If Allah is good I will never see you again.
Disclaimer: The contents of this blog are mine alone and do not represent the positions or views of the U.S. Government or the U.S. Peace Corps.
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