When you are wandering around the city of Dakar, you are faced by people who make less in a month than you spend in a day. Street vendors assail you at the tourist places, handicapped beggars sit in the street. You tip the beggars and fend off the salesmen as best you can, but unless you are the Koch Brothers, you feel that overwhelmed by the poverty and impressed by the resolve of the people to make as good a living for themselves as possible. They probably never taste meat or enjoy soft drinks (that cost twice as much as they earn in a day). If anyone thinks they are lazy, they should follow one of these for a few hours. Begging is hard work and so is selling.
A woman in brightly colored native clothes started talking to us on the boat to Ile de Goree the other day. She was very friendly and, of course, she had an ulterior motive: to get Lynn and I to visit her shop and buy a few things. The boat was filled with Africans of all nations (including a few from the United States) and a few Europeans and white Americans. I do not know how she reached the conclusion that I was Muslim, but she wanted to know which of the women sitting next to me — Lynn and an Australian woman living in Geneva — was my first wife and which was my second wife.
I told her that I thought one wife was enough for me, that I didn’t want the trouble of arbitrating disputes between two or more women.
“I am the second wife,” she told us and smiled broadly.
I could not help but admire her spirit, so when we met her a few hours later, we bought a few things for our niece after fierce bargaining.