Yesterday we arrived in Kolda at approximately 2:45 PM after 3 hours of driving. Right after we checked into the hotel we went to the outside restaurant that’s right next to the swimming pool. I sat across from Madame Sy and she had me smiling the whole time. Usually the Senegalese eat lunch at 1:30 and by the time the servers gave us their food it was about 3:15. Evidently Madame Sy was really tired from the trip (the roads were extremely bad and our heads were jostling back and forth from having to drive over deep potholes). Usually she’s a very happy person and she always has a quick, ready smile to give to people. However the fact that the voyage was so difficult, combined with the fact that she was very hungry, her feathers were kind of ruffled. Just after the server took her order she furrowed her brow and sighed really heavily and said, “Oh, I’m so tired!” She stuck out her bottom lip just a bit and pouted for a minute or two. Soon we all got to talking but all of a sudden she slumped back into her chair, stuck out her lip again and muttered, “Goodness, what is taking them so long?” and with great emphasis she crossed her arms and said, “I’m hungry!” I was trying so hard not to laugh at her, but she was just so cute. Then about two minutes later she exclaimed, “These girls are so slow!! What’s up with this??” I couldn’t take it any more. I started laughing and in my effort not to make any noise, my whole body shook and I had to cover my mouth. I couldn’t look at her. She looked over at me and got an indignant grin on her face that said, “Well?? It’s true!” And she started to giggle a little because I was laughing at her. We were still waiting – in reality it really was getting a little ridiculous – and she sighed really loud, looked over at me again and said, “Lark, stop laughing at me!” I finally laughed out loud and said, “But you’re just so cute about it that I can’t help it! I think you’re hilarious!” Khady started laughing, too and Madame Sy threw her hands up and said, “Well, she’s taking forever! What on earth could she be doing? Gee whiz!” That last line was the kicker – I really lost it. That made Khady laugh even more, and then Madame Sy joined in. Reading about the experience doesn’t do it justice – her facial expressions and tone of voice were something else. I’ve never seen anything like it. Finally our food came and she dug right in and ate heartily.
This morning as we were outside of the regional government office waiting for things to start, Madame Sy and I were sitting next to each other. She turned to me and said, “Lark, I was so tired yesterday. I went up to my room after lunch and I fell right to sleep. I slept so soundly that I didn’t even get go out for dinner.” I smiled and replied, “I noticed. You were having a hard time yesterday at lunchtime.” She got a big smile on her face and she laughed, and laughed, and laughed. “Ah, you noticed!” “Well of course I noticed!! It was kind of hard not to!” And I began imitating what she said and how she said it – sighing, slouching, hand gestures, the pouty lip and all. She laughed so hard at my impressions that she doubled over in her chair, slapped her knee, and laughed her head off. Of course that made me start laughing – and since I didn’t sleep well last night I was a little giddy – and her reaction encouraged me to embellish my impressions. I had a willing audience. I got her laughing so hard that she cried and couldn’t breathe. She held her stomach and said, “Stop! Stop! You’re making my stomach hurt!” Of course that just added fuel to the fire. I wasn’t about to quit then. Finally she said, “You’ve got to understand, when I don’t eat at the regular time I just can’t help it. Plus, that girl was extremely slow and it was ridiculous. And I was tired!!” I replied, “So that makes you pout like a five-year old child??” “Well… yeah!!” We laughed and laughed and laughed, then laughed some more. She had tears streaming down her face and she gasped for air. It was awesome! Bamba, Imam Samb and Mamadou Wade just looked at us and shook their heads and chuckled every once in a while. Our laughing spell lasted a good 10 minutes and it was great. I haven’t laughed that hard since Cecilia drew “the Finger” and danced around the dining room chanting, “The Finger, the Finger, the Finger!”
Ah, such good memories…!