How is it that December completely took hold of me, leaving me frozen in my tracks, unable to move forward? I never even finished writing about Portugal, and I'm heading out of town again on another adventure later today. Four years ago, I took my first West African Dance class with Idy Ciss. He told me about a two-week dance-themed tour that he leads every year in December in his native Senegal, and I was intrigued. I took a brochure, mulled it over, checked flight prices, and decided I would wait until the following year. After all, I'd only just started taking classes with him, I didn't know whether I'd like it enough to fly all the way to Africa and spend two weeks with him and a group of my fellow dance students.
The next year I wasn't able to go due to my work schedule, nor the following year, or the year after that. After not taking classes for a couple years due to work obligations, I began taking classes with Idy again in September of this year. He recognized me immediately, and welcomed me back into the class. Out of curiosity, I asked if he still did his annual tour of Senegal. "Wait right here," he said, "I have the brochures in the car."
This year I'm unemployed; the only thing stopping me is the common sense logic of not spending money on an expensive airline ticket when I'm only earning what the Illinois Department of Employment Security pays me every two weeks. On the other hand, with adventures of this kind, its always a question of having the time and the money, and I rarely have both. I had just committed to doing the Habitat for Humanity project in Portugal, but I didn't want to let this one slip away for yet another year. At some point, I reasoned, I won't want to fly to Senegal to dance. Someday I might not be in the physical shape necessary for such an undertaking, or, more likely, someday I'll have a job that will keep me from traveling internationally for two weeks at a time.
I started looking at flights, which are expensive - its not cheap to fly to Senegal, flights typically run about $1,800. One day I was scanning flights and came across one at the unbelievably low (for flying to Senegal) price of $1100. I asked Idy about it; "oh, you won't find anything cheaper than that," he said, "book that today." When I got home I discussed it with M. "Is it crazy?" I asked, somewhat rhetorically. M convinced me to buy the ticket, reasoning that I've wanted to go for years and this might be my one big chance. I bought the ticket. The next day the price went up to $1,800.
All of this was months ago, and in the interim I've had all kinds of adventures, both close to home and far away. I've gone to the travel clinic for immunizations (yellow fever, typhoid, and would you believe polio?) and prescriptions for malaria and something called travelers diarrhea to take with me on my trip. I've watched the calendar with a mixture of trepidation and excitement, and once again, the date has snuck up on me. I spent most of this weekend preparing for this journey, and will be heading to the airport later today. As those of you in the Midwest and on the East Coast know, there's been weather trouble at a number of airports, and as all of you doubtless know, there's been an increase in security. With luck, I'll be in Senegal by tomorrow. If I get delayed maybe there will be time for one more post before the end of the year.
When I return I'll have a backlog of posts to write, but I guess that's not such a bad problem to have. Thanks to all of you for following my adventures, have a wonderful new year's, and I'll talk to you all in 2010.