Insomnia Rambles

Looks like my insomnia is back in full swing after a series of sleepless nights this past month. And since I have a computer at my disposal, mon ami (“my friend” as Senegalese love calling you), get to hear all about what has been going on!

I hung out in Saint-Louis, a beautiful French colonial town in Northern Senegal for a few days, making the acquaintance of a few of the many French expats living there. Among them, Morgan and Christo, a young duo preparing for a 3-year biking trip around the world (making my journey look like a honeymoon cruise). When I first met Morgan, he told me he enjoyed Saint-Louis but was disappointed with the people, not the Senegalese, but the older French expats who lived there- many who had moved there to escape the law in France and now lived a free-for-all lifestyle, enjoying the role of a white man in a black country, taking advantage of being rich and of the beautiful Senegalese women. I had seen it a lot in Southeast Asia: grody fat old white man from Australia, America or the UK, and a beautiful young Thai or Cambodian “girlfriend” half his age. At first the sight of couples like this digusted me and I looked down at both members of the party. But after speaking to some Southeast Asian girls in this position, I realized that like every trade-off that is made in a “functioning” relationship, this was their trade-off, as politically/socially-incorrect as it was. Many of these girls have “boyfriends” from a rich country that come one a year for just a week, but give enough money so she and her entire family can live for a year in a poor country. Sometimes, they might even get cars and designer handbags and all those kinds of status symbols. Submit yourself for a week, and you and your family not only survive, but can also enjoy a few luxuries. Coming from a place where I never had to make such difficult choices simply to survive, who am I to judge someone else’s priorities?

So I saw a lot of the same things going on in Saint-Louis. Except this time, with grody old French men (what? I thought they were all Casanovas!) and gorgeous Senegalese women. I met the beautiful Lica, a girl who had been in this position, through some of the French dudes, and observed the way she interacted. I could tell she was smart and strong, and in some ways reminded me of myself…because I am so smart and so strong…haha, just kidding…but reminded me of myself because of her determination and refusal to put up with bullshit. But she had a daughter to feed. And she was black in a country that in many ways still hasn’t seemed to escape the French “protectorate” despite it’s “independence”. She told me when her French “boyfriend” used to come for his week, she would just spend the entire week drunk to escape her misery and hated his guts for making her feel worthless, but couldn’t get away because he was essentially paying for her daughter and her parents to live. On his side, hey- he can feel like he is providing charity to a family in need while keeping himself happy. It is all just too easy. And too easy to judge these kinds of social problems when humans are humans and nobody’s perfect and when things are easy, they are tempting. So I have no conclusions. One night by the Saint-Louis fleueve Morgan confessed a lot to me about being a guy, a powerful, young, smart French guy, in this city. It was a lot and he told me a lot of things that he had been holding for a long time inside that he hadn’t told anyone. Which made me feel good. Sometimes you just need an ear to pour your heart out to. Godspeed, Morgan, you are a good guy.

Well, it is pretty clear that there is much more to say about all this, and a lot of my social observations and interactions here in Saint-Louis have left me with a ginormous meal-for-thought. Maybe that’s why I can’t sleep. Or maybe it’s because it’s really hot and humid here. Or maybe it’s because there are mosquitos buzzing in my ear all the time. Or maybe because it’s my last 2.5 weeks and I am excited for everything!!! Last night I got into Dakar (driven by Morgan’s friend’s chauffeur so I didn’t have to take the 7-person shared taxi) and felt really frustrated and jumped up and down and yelled a lot and almost got into a taxi to the airport to get out of here. But now…it’s all good.


~ by ceciliabien on November 3, 2009.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: