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Roses bloom in the desert, after all

I bought a rosebush last weekend. This was not something on my to-do list. My to-do list included very practical things like: Drop off absentee ballots at Embassy (took twice as long as anticipated) Pick up tortillas at American Store (they were out) Pick up Rick at English Center by 10:30 (delayed by a jackknifed semi that had spilled its load of gravel across the entire road) Accomplish all of this with a minimal amount of cussing, honking, yelling, and hand-gesturing from behind the wheel (really, I don’t even know why this is on my to-do list. It’s just an exercise in futility.) After I had accomplished mostly nothing on my list and navigated The Most Poorly Planned Intersection In The World on my way to pick up Rick (Dakarois, you know this one — in Point E where the VDN meets the road that takes you to the Sea

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“I see you”… Lessons in human dignity

This is a story that starts in Detroit, the part of the world I called home for 16 years before moving abroad. In many ways, Detroit and Dakar aren’t so different: rampant poverty, streets lined with abandoned and dilapidated buildings, great music. This is a story about seeing. And feeling. And being human. This is a story that starts with an old woman, a face mapped with wrinkles, the thin line of her toothless mouth opening and closing in a constant sucking motion. For a few weeks, we’ve been making lunches and collecting supplies — toothbrushes, socks, tampons and whatnot — and bringing them to an area of the city where a large crowd of homeless people are living in an abandoned building with boarded up windows and rats the size of small dogs. This isn’t a big organized group thing where a bunch of suburbanites show up with matching

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“Would You Rather…” Wednesday

So it’s Wednesday…the perfect day for a little game of “Would You Rather?” Today’s question: Would you rather deal with cockroaches (palmetto bugs for those of you who prefer fancy names for your insects) or ants in your kitchen? Here are the arguments: ANTS: You are chopping a piece of fruit on a cutting board and within two nanoseconds there is a mass of tiny, schizophrenic ants swarming your countertop.  Every food item in your pantry must be sealed in Fort Knox-level plastic bags or tupperware to keep them out. Even sealed jars of peanut butter are no match for these hungry scavengers. COCKROACHES: Scare the crap out of you when you go to get a drink in the middle of the night and turn on the kitchen light. They fly, crawl all over your silverware, plates, and utensils, and make a horrible crunching noise when meeting the sole of

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When 85 degrees isn’t 85 degrees

* Today’s weather post is brought to you by the dying hiss of a fan as the power goes out for the third time in the past hour, your high school geometry class, and that friend in the U.S. who says, “Oh, yeah, it’s 85 degrees here, too. It’s soooo hot.” * I love it when I’m visiting the States and people ask me, “So, is it, like, really hot over there where you live?” I LIVE ON THE EDGE OF THE SAHARA DESERT. I’m pretty sure hell has cooler days than we do. But I’ve come to understand that “hot” can look very different, depending on where you’re standing on the planet, and depending on lots of magical atmospheric alchemy stuff that pretty much only a scientist can explain. Let me just qualify this by saying that I’ve experienced plenty of places with hot weather. I’ve been to deep

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