Thursday, December 29, 2011

NEVERMIND...

...about heading back to village today. This morning, a little after 8:00 am, I biked over to the Kédougou garage (a big dirt parking lot hemmed by tin-roofed boutique warehouses and lunch shacks) and bought a ticket for the next car to Salémata. I settled in with my books for what would turn out to be a futile eight-ish hour wait.

During those hours I ate the Spiced Pumpkin Pie Clif Bar that Santa left in my stocking (which was delicious), rode my bike back to the regional house for snacks and to use the latrine, and made a big impression on a gaggle of older Pular men who grew increasingly impressed as they watched me read three books, one after another.  Those books were Daughter of Fortune, which I really liked, Take the Cannoli [Stories from the New World], which was great even though I'd already heard almost all the stories on This American Life, and Are You There, Vodka? It's Me, Chelsea, which turned out to be pretty much the perfect thing to read after sitting on a narrow bench in a crowded dusty lot all day long.


Around lunchtime I got up and very sweetly told the guy who's in charge of selling tickets that if the car didn't fill up by 4:00 pm I'd need to leave, because after that it would be possible that I'd be arriving in Salémata after dark and my boss at Corps de la Paix forbids me from travelling at night. (That's a real rule, though Safety & Security does make occasional exceptions) As it turns out, I'm really glad I had that little chat, and that I was very polite.  
Eventually 4:00 pm rolled around, and much to the ornery driver's irritation (other passengers were grumbling about refunds and so far had been refused) I quietly got my money back from the ticket guy and rode off to buy a ticket from the Niokolo Transport office, which has a truck that reliably goes out to Salémata on Monday and Friday mornings at 8:00 am. So, sometimes being a toubab means I have to put up with extra hassles, but sometimes being foreign (and invoking Peace Corps rules) seems to make it easier to duck out of unpleasant situations.  Sticking out like a bespectacled DayGlo thumb is a mixed bag.  

Anyway. The water's on for the moment so I think I'll take an outdoor shower, download some podcasts, heat up some soup, make the most of an extra night at the Regional House. And then tomorrow morning I'll actually head back to village. Inchallah.

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