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The Semi-Regular Newsletter


Senegal, February 12, 2005

Honk If You Love Me

Oh baby, I so feel loved here!

hey taxi!
No, I'm fine, really.
how much for the girl?
Sahara taxi service
Do you ever feel famous? Like a movie star walking down the street? Every day in Dakar I feel like that. I feel like I am Tom Cruise and everyone wants to meet me. Why's that you ask? Well it's the taxi drivers.

When the local taxi drivers see me, a white guy or toubob, walking along the road they have a fit. What is a rich man like me doing walking, and not in their taxi paying a foolishly high price for a ride?

They honk from, oh, about three miles away, and keep honking as they approach, even pulling of the road in front of me, still honking, as if I didn't see them already. See them I should too.

Worse than any gay club I've wandered through, the Senegalese taxi drivers hunger for eye contact with me. They search my face as they approach, ignoring road and right of way, just to see where my eyes look. If I dare look in their direction, not directly at them mind you, they squeal into a frenzy of honks and brakes.

This of course, I should take like a free drink or a bad line, and be oh so willing to hop into their cab. When I seemingly walk past, the taxi drivers enter a whole other level of hysteria, even jumping out and opening doors for me, in case I didn't get the hint.

And this happens every time I walk down a street.

Now wait till I walk down the road with my luggage when I check out and head to the local cyber cafe. You know that will send them into spastic epileptic seizures: a white guy with luggage walking to the airport!

Senegal, February 11, 2005

Lets Get Ethnic Then

Its Friday in Senegal and than means its time to go ethnic, in clothing that is. Friday is the day that Muslims here are called to the mosque to pray so they break out their finest boubou to show respect. Catching wind of this, I broke out my own ethnicity and wore a guayabera to work today.

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Senegal, February 10, 2005

The Edge of Africa, Trashed

Today I went for a run around Ngor and ran out to Pointe des Almadies, the western-most point in Africa. I don't know what I was expecting, maybe a Key West scene or maybe a dull marker like the equator in Kenya. It was a whole different story in Senegal. The western-most point has a Club Med on one side, a private house on the other, and a little group of bars and trinket and food stalls in between.

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Senegal, February 9, 2005

Another Birthday Abroad

Looking at the clock I see its 10pm here, 5pm in Washington, DC, and I am about to run out of time at the cyber cafe and battery power on my laptop. This would be a good thing since I'm still working on Geekcorps stuff, after a full day at the Geekcorps Senegal office. So another 12-hour day ends for me, just in time for dinner and a shower before bed. Oh, did I mention this is my birthday? Or well it kinda is and kinda isn't.

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Senegal, February 8, 2005

Senegalese Sprinting Society

Ever wonder how to attract the attention of kids in Africa? Well I can tell you exactly how to captivate an entire mob of kids in Senegal: run by with a GPS and a digital camera. Now you can just run by and they'll call and maybe run with you for a bit, but if you have toys, preferably cool toys, you now have an instant fan base.

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Senegal, February 7, 2005

A Little Russia in Ngor

At first I was a little confused. The lady behind the counter would not take my money. I wanted that fancy little Danish, or since it was a French bakery, the pastry, and she had it in her hand, but she refused the usual cash for product exchange. Slowly, I realized I should pay her friend at the cashier. So I did and a receipt I received. That's when the lady snapped the receipt out of my hand and gave me my dessert, and I realized I was dealing with the Soviet three-line system. Devised by some customer-hating apparatchik, the three-line system strives to laborize and extended what should be an efficient and quick purchasing system.

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Senegal, February 6, 2005

Surf's Up in Senegal

In 'The Endless Summer' two surfers travel around the globe looking for waves while California is deep in is doldrums. The first stop for these world-wanderers: Dakar. In the movie, they surf some crap beach break, which made me think that I shouldn't expect much from Senegal. With tiny swells breaking on miniscule beaches, I wasn't impressed enough to even get my toe wet in the ocean. This afternoon, I switched hotels, and when I opened the French doors (of course!) to my balcony(!) and looked out, I couldn't believe my eyes. There, just in front of the hotel was a small island with the most amazing and heart-stopping long waves breaking around it on both sides. Like a pear wrapped in gold, or a diamond incrusted with emeralds, the view stopped me speechless and dumbstruck.

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Senegal, February 5, 2005

Dozing in Dakar

Now I wanna say that I like Dakar, really wanna say I love it, but actually I don't. I don't dislike it either now, it just is, I guess. It is a tropical African city, exciting and amazing if you happen to speak French and or happen to be a woman. As a non-Frenchie guy, the place isn't what Yana, a French-speaking black woman, would make it out to be. For me, Dakar, with its French + Muslim culture is... well it's a bore. And I day this with a heavy heart and much investigation.

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Senegal, February 4, 2005

Hi Jacque, Welcome to Dakar!

Six in the morning and I'm standing outside Senegal's main airport, Dakar International, with my bags at my feet and an ache in my head. Its been seven hours and two Tylenol PM's since I left Washington DC in a mad rush to make this flight. I am still kinda shocked at the mileage of this week. Monday was a DC workday before I caught an evening flight to California. There I pitched Geekcorps to HP on Tuesday for a $1.2 million. Yes, HP as in Hewlett Packard, and yes, I was nervous as hell.

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