April 24, 2005

Ok, so now what ?

I'm 3 weeks down into my return home. So far, what have I done :

  • I've seen friends (quite a few of them) with great pleasure ;
  • I've got my car back ! Unexpectedly, driving is not really a problem, and I am, once again, the queen of the road !
  • I set up my oath taking date : may 2nd, I will be an attorney ;
  • I moved back into my appartment and started experimenting with couplehood ;
  • I applied to jobs, including the army ;
  • I had lunch with our Seb ;

Now what ?

  • I wait home for a job to happen and keep a nice living as a housewife.
  • I look for work.
  • I go train.
  • I get bored. Friends are no longer used to having me in their lives, so I'm out of the loop.

Anybody got a job for me ? Anywhere but here !!!

Nobody really cares about Senegal or my experience there. So the hectic socialite that I was in Senegal is no more !!! :(

April 17, 2005

A surprise party that was a complete success :)

One of my friends did not know I was going home. It was his birthday, there was going to be a birthday party. The whole thing was a surprise, but we thought it would be a bonus if he had a second surprise : me... His girlfriend and i made a big deal out of it. We made sure that he had no clue of our overseas communications. I moved my blog. I lied about my return date. I blocked him on MSN. She made sure he would get the door. It was all worth the trouble when he almost had a heart attack after seeing my face :)

Ahhhh the crazy things we do for friends :)

Surprise, surprise !!! JP and friends on provincial road 329
(c) MGPilon 2005

Sorry I haven't written in a while, guys...

With moving back into my appartment, and starting a common life with my sweet homeboy, I've been more than what you call busy... It's nice to have my old place back, and to have the time to be as domestic as I want. I will need to find a job soon though... at this rate, I'll be housewife of the year way ahead of my own time...
(c) MGPilon 2005

April 07, 2005

Snow.... at last ! (Enfin la neige...)

I went today to my cottage to get some stuff out and finally saw snow !!! A meter high full area of thewhute stuff is still on our land, despite the warm (if you're Canadian) weather ! I also got my car back. Yeeeee ! But the battery's dead... oh well, now I'm really home !

April 06, 2005

Snow at last !!!
(c) MGPilon 2005

April 03, 2005

Shopping and the movies

On my second day, having an afternoon to kill, I went to the local mall next to my mum’s house. The weather was getting better, with all the rain that Africa misplaced pouring on my head in Montreal. My dear African friends, do not look for the water you’re lacking, it’s presently flooding my hometown. Geez, what went wrong with me and why in the world did I go back ?

To make matters worse, the only shoes I had were my faithfull running shoes, so they officially acquired the title of frozen sponge for the occasion. With feet meeting the Ice-cube club requirement, I entered the first Payless Shoe Source and bought some nice (very stylish) boots that contributed greatly to my reconciliation with Canada, along with new jeans and cargo pants that made me feel like a brand new Canadian !

I also treated myself to the new Pixar opus, "Robots" which is, I must say, an amusing piece to watch. It was funny and entertaining, but mostly talked about the importance of accepting oneself, and a plea against mass consumption which I thought was ironic, given that the movie was played in the temple of commerce and marketing.

I was amazed at the cleanliness of the mall, and very happy to buy a baklava from a Lebanese who was quite happy to hear me say "Shoukran" (Thank you in Arabic but also in Hassannya, the dialect used in Mauritania). Still having some issues with the woloff reflex though, with "Dieuredieuf" (thank you), "Niocobok" (welcome) and "Santa yalla" (Thank God) always at the tip of my tongue, no matter who the recipient may be. As I’m typing this from the comfort of my mum’s house, I’m still cold. It feels wrong.

Coffee and Internet

The day of my arrival was spent mostly catching up with my mother and eating, then sleeping. I did go out for coffee in the evening, only to confirm that the weather was definitely not the reason I’d returned home. With my bones chilled to the core, I enjoyed my first Canadian coffee in a Canadian non-smoking coffee house (grrrrr). The company was great though !

On the way home, I spotted a cyber-cafe where one hour of connection costs 4 times the price in Dakar, and took time to email and blog. I was completely useless at figuring out the cyber cafe’s card system, as if my stay out of North America had rendered me completely adverse to technology.


I got out the airplane and thought that I was landing in Mirabel Airport, when my flight was scheduled to land at Dorval - P.E. Trudeau Airport. What one may not know about the airports in Montreal is the following : we have 2 airports which have completely different styles, Mirabel and Dorval airports.
Mirabel turned out to be a scandal because people were expropriated, companies were closed and jobs were lost, our taxes were spent on a new and modern airport that is inconveniently remote and that has, by decision of the government, been put out of service some 10 years ago to the benefit of the closer but embarrassingly obsolete Dorval airport.

So you understand my surprise to walk a chrome corridor and enter a wonderful room with modern art hanging from the glass high ceiling. I had very serious doubts as to the location of this room, especially given the fact that I’d fallen asleep during the flight. But indeed I was in Dorval and that proved it self true when I walked one mile to the exit in the temporary corridors of the construction zone.

At the end of my mile long walk my mother and Montreal were waiting, as well as the humid cold weather... but no snow. My new life was about to begin.

Leaving The Big Apple

I arrived at LGA airport with 2 hours to kill so I registered quickly my luggage and made my way to the restaurant area where I splurged and offered myself a complete American breakfast with French toast, broiled eggs, hash brown and BACON !!!

I wandered around uselessly for 30 some minutes until I remembered that I had a letter to put in the mail. It was also strange to no longer be a visible minority. I fought urges to speak woloff to people, which I replaced with my rudiments of Spanish, when asking directions to a member of the airport staff who had troubles with my English.

With some 45 minutes left to hang out at the airport, I made my way to boarding and hopped aboard my second flight. I was amused to note that members of the Judaic faith were onboard, as I hadn’t met any during the 6 months I spent in Dakar.

I was, needless to say, absolutely dead from the 1st flight, so I saw nothing of the 2nd one and landed in Montreal without having been aware at all that we left the ground.

New York

I finally unfolded myself from my seat and got off the airplane. The custom formalities went well (its great to be Canadian, you get in the US citizens line), but for some reason my luggage ended up on the First Class belt so I spent 45 minutes looking at the Economy belt in anguish. I finally took my unique piece of cargo luggage ( a hockey bag ! how Canadian !) and made my way to the washroom were I changed and made myself human again. I then took a cab to La Guardia airport.

Amusingly, I did not speak Woloff to the cab driver. I was delighted to sit in a cab that did not threaten to breakdown imminently, and to not have to haggle over a price. Incidently, I spent on said cab fare all the money I’d saved haggling over cab prices in Dakar over the last 6 months. But anyway, it was nice to be driven around and to feel safe, and to not have to listen to some marabout chanting Al-Koran at maximum volume on the radio. I saw nothing of Manhattan, since both airports are in Queens. I just went through Queens and saw an American highway. Palpitating.

Crossing the Atlantic

Though I’d asked for an aisle seat and apparently had been awarded one (that clerk lied to me !), I consider myself lucky because I was seated between two very nice and very charming gentlemen. They were both South-African (one of Indian, the other of African descent) and on their way to a conference about waste management. That led me to my first innocent stupid remark : "oh ! So you’re the garbage men ?"

They laughed it off and proceeded to explaining to me that we could not push our seats back at all. To this, add the fact that I’m 6 feet tall, that both my neighbors were over 6 feet tall and that the flight was over 8 hours long, and you will understand why I came home with a terrible backache. My companions were wonderful though so we fixed the space issue by removing the armrests and sort of leaning on each other to sleep.

The company does not have a film projection like most airplane companies, but instead provide us with an individual crystal screen and one can watch whatever they want on their own schedule. The concept is great in the absolute, but when the seat ahead of you is laid down, you cant see a thing. So I saw "Bridget Jones : Edge of reason" and half of "The Incredibles" in yellow and green and with only sound in certain scenes. To make matters better, my monthly womanly troubles manifested themselves in the middle of the flight. Oh well. Another passenger was in the same predicament but measured 6 feet 6, so he actually spent pretty much all of the flight standing up. I guess my flight wasn’t all that bad after all.

Leaving Dakar

I took off from Dakar Yoff Airport (officially known as Aeroport Leopold Sedar Senghor) at 1:30 AM on April 1st (read the night through). I was considerably tired and am indeed very grateful to my friends who took me to the airport, despite the ungodly hour.

I barely had to wait to register my luggage, but it was very interesting to see that prior to registration all luggage was opened by airport security. I had to answer questions about whether I had accepted luggage or mail from strangers. I thought hard and decided that the friend who had asked me to mail an envelope from New York was no stranger, and answered no to the question with great sincerity.

Then I had to pass through immigration which involved producing my passport. That was the scary one, given that I’d been illegal in Senegal for 2 months before going out to Mauritania and back in, thus making me the proud holder of a tourist visa for the end of my stay. I was afraid that an over zealous bureaucrat would see through the trick and detain me or worse, claim some baksheesh I could not afford ! So I walked up to the booth, showed off all the Woloff I had and got the customs officer to stare at me and my radiant smile much more than at my passport, which he stamped without even looking.

I then proceeded to getting a hot chocolate at the bar in the waiting room, where I engaged in an animated conversation with a travelling Ivorian and Algerian about African politics. We finally were called in to the shuttle to embark, and once again I was stopped because I was missing some sticker on my boarding pass or something. They checked my hand luggage for the 5th time and finally let me take the shuttle which would drive all the passengers eager to go to the US to the plane. We got off on the tarmac and walked the stairs up to the plane. I was at last seated in a gorgeous South African Airways Boeing 747.

April 01, 2005

Happy Birthday Bill !

May all your wishes come true (all the realistic ones anyways) on this very special day ! May the breezes of Dakar not be too dusty on this day, may you be blessed with no electricity cuts ! I pray that you will be invisible to the peddlers on the streets, and that none of them will resent you for not buying that irresistable ironing board ! O sun, be gentle on this day and not burn my friend today !

May the partying be wild, the company numerous and joyful ! Wish I were there, have a great great great time !

I'd like to thank you all...

This post is dedicated to the people I met during my stay in Dakar. In the hopes to preserve privacy, names will be left out, but hopefully, you all know who you are !

  • thank you for playing father figure and making me feel safe ;
  • thank you for the quiet presence, the soothing innocence, the hyperactivity that made us go out ... all the time !
  • thank you for infecting me with the love of hashing ;
  • thank you for always being cheery, always laughing and making sure everyone felt special ;
  • thank you for teaching me the meaning of freedom and friendship ;
  • thank you for the gift of autonomy ;
  • thank you for showing up, dancing, smiling and just being your clumsy, lovable self ;
  • thank you for the wild partying, the crazy behaviour, the loud jokes and salty humour ;
  • thank you for your warmth, your smile, your love of fun, and being taller than me ! ;
  • thank you for teaching me to be a girl again ;
  • thank you for opening your house and welcoming me in ;
  • thank you for teaching me to appreciate cynicism ;
  • thank you for making me feel special and loved.