Well, we have been here in Senegal for 2 weeks now and today we are heading to Ghana (flying through Cote d’Ivoire, does that count as another country on the list?)
Why are we ballin’ you may ask? Because, through our great luck of connections and friendly Americans abroad, we got hooked up with an Embassy worker that let us crash at their apartment prior to our flight our of Dakar. Hip hip HORRAY for laundry machine washed clothes and air conditioning! Maybe I’ll be back to the USA earlier than I planned…
Highlights of the Senegal Expedition:
Dakar (capital city, on a peninsula, crowded, hot, a bit rainy – cuz its the rainy season – and anything you could want to buy, for sale)
1. N’Ice Cream – they have an Obama flavor and it rocks
2. The Market – shopping for fabrics and jewelry and shoes, and I love getting charged 60X the normal price because of the white skin factor, but we have become a bit better at bargining
3. Weird huge statue – It’s kinda like their statue of liberty, expect its a scantily clad family of 3 in a highly Muslim country where multiple wives, many a children and head to toe clothing is the Norm (oh and North Koreans built it in exchange for a good chunk of coastal land, another weird point)
The Statue Controversy
Dakar was cool. We stayed with 3rd year extension Volunteers in their house and they took us all around the city. Great schwarma and pastries (thank you Lebanese immigration and french colonialism). We went and heard live music at Just 4 You, and we got lucky with a great local band called Orchestra Baobab (in homage to my favorite tree in this nation). We also spend a night learning to make ricotta cheese and the days getting our Ghanaian visa, prepping for the next stop!
Sant Luis (the old capital in the north, filled with french colonial architecture and built on an island in the middle of the Senegal River, with nice little and slightly scary bridges connecting them all)
1. Amazing Senegalese food at La Linguiere, local Thiou Tomate, Maffe and Yassa Poulet for cheap ($3-$5 USD) we also ate a lot of bags of water, we have become accustomed to sucking on their corners as a hydration technique.
2. Old buildings – the island had really old buildings which gave it a nice grandeur, we were also there during the last days of Ramadan and the final night, when Muslims are allowed to break fast for during the day, Korite, we went out to a bar and then a disco call L’Iguana (and no, Muslims technically can’t drink alcohol, even on Korite) where we were dancing and relaxing with some other international development workers and Senegalese, when one section of the concrete roof collapsed. People looked over, assessed that no one was under the rubble, and continued dancing. Then the music stopped and we all got kicked out. Yay for old colonial architecture!
In Sant Luis we also bought a lot of ebony masks and other wood stuff, along with bags, more fabric and jewelry. We walked all over the coast which was unfortunately covered with trash and the ocean consisted of murky water (due to the rainy season) and floating mostly plastic trash. Not swimmable and a bit disappointed after living on Sal for 2 years, but the walk was nice. It was also a bit strange to see groups of Muslim men break down into prayer sessions constantly. I accidentally walked on one guy’s prayer mat because I was rounding the corner and he was stretched out at the entrance way to a little shop. Opps, a bit awkward. When we stayed at the Youth Hostel L’Atlantide, we would be sitting have a banguette and then 3 guys would all of a sudden prostrate themselves on the floor and start chanting together less than 3 feet from us, it felt a bit intrusive. Se la vie!
The South (best part of our trip, we got to see more of the “True Senegal” and went off the beaten track a bit more)
1. Staying at Sarah’s Village outside Mbour, her hut is painted like a hobbit hole and has the classic one room, outdoor pit toliet and nice family in a big compound around her. She has a great little garden in the back and we got to eat Millet with her family! (Here they make a big pot and everyone has their own spoon and digs in, we ate millet with them which another PCV said is bird seed that they grind down and cook. Quite tasty and seems healthy…)
2. Visited an awesome campemant in Mbour, a great tourist spot along the ocean where we relaxed with a beer, had a swim (the water was WAY cleaner than up north) and then enjoyed the great decorations, murals and general feel of the spot. Note to self: Canned Baga Ganoush is not as good as the fresh stuff. Not nearly as good.
3. The BUMPY car rides everywhere, we ride on reformed station wagons that they gery rig a 3rd seat into – cramped, dirty, no leg room and always an adventure. On the ride to Palmarin, Chris Murphy’s site, water entered in the holes in the floor and whetted our feet!
4. The highlight of our trip south, KAYAKING IN MANGROVE TREES! Down south Chris has been working with promoting Eco tourism so we did one of his trips, kayaked all around the Sine Delta area enjoying the mangrove forests (we planted some!) and swimming in the salty water. We also went inside a giant Baobab tree and had coffee. So cool (thanks Pierre)!
Today at 4pm – off to Ghana! Wish us luck and I miss you all!!!