Monday, June 16, 2008

Villa 1223

We’re finally here in Dakar at Villa 1223, our home for the next 3 weeks. I had the week leading into today off for vacation but really only took Thursday and Friday because I had so much work to finish up. I decided on Thursday to paint Clare’s room which left us with one day less to pack, but luckily we got everything done on time. My colleague Kate gave Clare a bed she didn’t need, and I dropped the wood frame on my toe while putting it together. The smashed toe is still pulsing and purple and I’m hoping it’s not too serious.

Visibly limped the whole way, dragging the suitcases from the bus to the subway to the Air train and through the JFK airport, changing band aids in the bathroom…

Aside from the inevitably shady moment upon arriving at the airport, when the men hustle you for a taxi and everyone wants to help you carry your suitcases, we arrived perfectly. Slept the whole way while Clare watched 3 movies. Met a very nice man named Assan who noticed my Plan environmental bag. Turns out he had just come from a meeting in Toronto with one of my very best old friends, Laura del Valle, who worked with me at Plan in El Salvador and now works for WV with him in the same department. Such a small world.

The room at Villa 1223 is very sweet. It’s painted lavender and has a double bed, closet, sofa, dressing table and bathroom with a toilet, shower, sink and pail for collecting water in case it gets shut off and we need some saved up to bathe. The only problem is that we don’t have access to the kitchen so I’m not sure how that’s going to work…. (see video for a quick tour!)It’s in a dusty neighborhood somewhere near the district where the non-profits have their offices – we passed by them on the ride from the airport. The taxi driver said that Mie, another old friend from El Salvador who now works with Plan’s West Africa Regional Office would come to get us at treize heures – which I thought was 3 (Spanish kicking in) but then realized is thirteen, so 1.00. So we unpacked, showered and slept till 12.30. Julie, the project coordinator and I will meet at 6 for a beer and to get acquainted for our work together. We’ve been ‘skyping’ for a few months so it will be nice to finally talk in person.

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