I love the way photos can bring you to another world. A travel website is interested in publishing a chapter from my upcoming book, and they’ve requested a photo to go along with it. I’ve spent the evening looking at my photos from four years ago, when I lived in Senegal, and I can remember it like I haven’t yet left.
While writing a story, I can spend minutes (sometimes hours) writing a single paragraph that describes a Senegalese grandmother selling peanuts for extra cash.
Finally, I found what I was looking for. An old woman sitting on an overturned wooden crate displaying peanuts for sale. She had forty plastic bags each holding a handful of either plain or sugarcoated peanuts. Her head was wrapped in a fluorescent pink piece of fabric, folded like a crown. Grey hair peeked out at her temples. She was chewing on a neem branch, a favorite toothbrush of many rural Senegalese. When we started to talk, she did not take it out but rather pushed it to the corner of her mouth, where is bounced with her every word.
The moment you look at a shiny, bright picture, my description has tarnished.
I am grateful for the trip I took back to Senegal this week through my intensive writing and my photo-browsing.