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I’ve been leaving parts of myself behind in Senegal. I left a bra in Mouit. The brand new crocodile earring that disappeared into the sand one night in Dene. I’ve lost endless, endless strands of hair. A lens cap in the mountains of Ibel. A grey shell was lost in transit from Thies to Kidigou. The blue glass bead that may have slipped off my bracelet in Dande, Dendefelo, or Bandafasi. A spiral shell vanished in Temento Samba.


I seemed to have forgotten the little, tightly wrapped part of myself that explodes upon impact with stress somewhere in Thies. A small pocket of fear was left in the taxi from the airport. Several others followed suit, scattering in markets, soccer stadiums, and mountain tops. The voice that whispers then shouts “You can’t do this” was misplaced one morning after a week of homestays. Useless worries have been abandoned in sept-places and glorified wagons as I bounced along toward a new and exciting destination.


I’ve lost a lot in Senegal but I’ve gained some too. Two new families. Close friends. Half a song on the Kora. Lots of bug bites and one bad sunburn (sorry mom). A newfound appreciation for all that a glass of attaya can acomplish. I’ve picked up two new languages and the ability to communicate without any. The willingness to laugh at oneself found me first in Mouit and has tagged along as a welcome friend for the rest of the trip.


I know that by the time I leave Senegal I will have lost more than I imagined when I stepped off the plane but as someone once said, “There are far greater things ahead than any we leave behind.”