Going back to a place that you loved should be something you feel really positive about, right? So this return to Dakar has been very strange, and it's been impossible to articulate the reasons why I have felt so conflicted and nervous about it. There was a part of me that did want to come back, of course, but the other part of me has felt a strange foreboding, a sense that it wouldn't work.
But there was no other realistic option, so I am here.
& (sorry Mum - she will hate this, my starting one sentence with 'but', the next with 'and'!!) I've started to understand a little better the phrase "going back". That "back" does not just refer to the geography, but also to time. & no, you cannot go back in time. On Saturday I wandered round to the road that was my home for my first five years here - to find that the little bungalow I'd lived in is no more, the land now occupied by a four-storey block of flats. From there I went to the restaurant and live music venue Just4U to request a copy of their programme - to be faced by a building site. Even the very few people I still know here (in the office) look older and tired - as I'm sure I must do too.
I am not saying that I am unhappy to be back, but I am not jumping for joy either.
It will take time to find my feet here, knowing that I can't just slip back into what was here before (I did check on the flat I lived in for my last year, but it is occupied). It will take me a little time to leave behind Latin America too (no dried cranberries in the supermarket here, no 60mbps internet download speeds), especially on weekends like the one we've just had where I was glued to internet news sites reporting on the terrible goings-on in Nicaragua.
But it will come. Slowly. Yesterday I found a website listing events in Dakar - I'd just missed a wine-tasting on Friday evening and an Orchestra Baobab concert Saturday night. So there will be places to go where I can meet people, and establish a new social life here and build a new set of memories. I just have to be patient.