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Fortune House

It would be nice if luck could “turn”. Like a wheel or a pendulum, steadily, metronomically determining fortune’s ebbs and flows. Or like a wanderer – perhaps Lady Luck herself? – turning around completely to go back the way she came, or turning a corner, to discover some place entirely new.

I was sure Lady Luck must have been turning a corner after our group’s head count dropped from 13 to 7. Not only do the numbers themselves (unlucky 13, lucky 7) spell out good fortune, but I myself was coming out of an unpleasant sickness, and the team’s morale seemed to be looking up as well. Of course, Luck cannot turn, much in the same way she cannot jump, dance, or have any “direction” to begin with.

No more than fifty kilometres and two days from our final homestay in Dakar, we were told that, due to rising COVID numbers, we would in fact not be doing a final homstay in Dakar. That this cornerstone of our journey had been cancelled, and I felt utterly betrayed. “Our luck had turned,” I thought. “This isn’t supposed to happen.”

Near my highschool back in Brooklyn, there’s a restaurant named “Fortune House,” but its sign’s unfortunate typography makes it look more like “torture house”. Sometimes I think the two aren’t so different, this idea of “fortune” we’ve created, this pointless personification of happenstance, is nothing but an instrument we use to torture our minds. My investment in the waxing and waning of this group’s fortune was the only reason this itinerary change so defeated me.

We arranged a make up homestay in Thies and had fun celebrating Tabaski, we were still able to visit Dakar and the profound “Isle de Goree” within, life has continued in the strange and beautiful way it often does, and “Lady Luck” can go do some things I probably shouldn’t write about in a Yak.