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The great bread adventure

Its 6:45 am in Dindefelo. The hazy clouds have come down from the mountains and the town feels serene, but there’s anticipation building for the day ahead. We stumbled out of the hotel feeling worn out and slightly frustrated about the early morning breakfast run. We wandered aimlessly down the first path into the village. With fingers crossed, we reached a boutique and realized the owner was still asleep inside. Luckily, a man, blind in one eye, saw us searching for directions and approached us. We asked him where the nearest boulangerie was and he pointed down a nearby path. As we started in that direction, a woman carrying a baby on her back and a bucket on her head asked us where we wanted to go. After some difficulties communicating, we eventually came to the same conclusion- go down the closest path. With hopeful steps, we approached the only open business: a second boutique. To our relief, the shopkeeper spoke some Wolof! Unfortunately, he had no bread and he was disappointed to hear that we did not want to buy anything else. He pointed us down the same path and up ahead we saw a young girl carrying loaves of bread piled high. We squealed in excitement and headed towards the center of the village. As we neared a bread stand, we cautiously stood outside waiting for a sign that it was our turn to make a purchase. With utter confusion, we watched a man in front of us buy the last four baguettes. The shopkeeper signaled to us that he was all out of bread. Slightly dejected, we trudged away from the bread stand and to our surprise, noticed a breakfast lady coming out from around a corner. Retracing her steps, we found ourselves at another bread stand. A customer in front of us recognized how lost we looked and asked us how many loaves we wanted. We held up ten fingers and he shook his head. He then proceeded to buy the last freshly baked baguettes. At this point, we started to bicker about what to do and looked around helplessly for some answers. Suddenly, the owner of the first bread stand beckoned for us to follow him. He communicated with hand gestures to his friends in passing and we realized he was deaf. We followed him out of town and down multiple overgrown paths. Looking at the time, we considered turning back and returning to the hotel empty handed. Out of nowhere, our guide stopped and abruptly jumped over a wooden gate. Two older women in traditional African dresses, gold hoops, and head wraps greeted him with gap-toothed smiles. Our eyes found the endless stacks of bread freshly baked in a woodfire oven just behind the women. Our guide motioned for us to climb over the gate and we awkwardly exchanged greetings in Pulaar. We all laughed together at the absurd situation and the women wrapped up our baguettes. As the sun rose behind us and we headed back to the hotel, we were reminded of all the community members who helped us along the way. We did not shy away from the adventure, instead we embraced the difficulties and confusion and ended up coming out victorious.