Stuart Krengel embarks on an Oikocredit USA Study tour to Senegal.
Traveling from San Francisco to Dakar is a long trip. 26 hours to be exact. One can imagine the anticipation and the anxiety that occurs while traveling such a long distance. With all that time you think you would have time to prepare yourself for what it may be like to walk off a plane in Africa for the first time.
But you guessed it; nothing can prepare you for your first steps on African soil. It felt like a grand occasion when we arrived. As we de-boarded the plane there were quite a few people there to greet us. As I went through customs and on to the baggage claim, I was approached by several men that were willing to take me to my hotel. They were all very helpful. None more helpful than Mamadou. If it wasn’t for Mamadou I would probably be still be sitting in the Dakar Airport.
Air France lost my bag. As Mamadou and I stood there watching the last bag be claimed, he quickly ushered me to the office that handles lost baggage. I would have never found this office if it were not for Mamadou, it was in the most obscure location possible. He helped me translate my issue and instructed me on what to do the following day to re-claim my bag. I am very thankful for Mamadou and his kindness. Hopefully my bag will show up tomorrow.
The rest of the trip was smooth. After a quick minibus ride from the airport I arrived at my hotel and found myself in the lobby with many of my Oikocredit colleagues. It was wonderful to meet them for the first time. They came from France, Switzerland, Germany, England, The Netherlands and Canada. I am the lone American.
After a quick beer with my new friends I made my way to my bed. Traveling up the elevator I found myself reflecting on the last 26 hours. What a day! The most important thing I will take away from today is the kindness of the Senegalese people. I truly felt welcome upon my arrival. Of course Mamadou wins the MVP award for Day 1.
Now I need some rest. I have a feeling that tomorrow will have some of its own surprises and I don’t want to miss a single one of them.