Monday, February 8, 2010

Dakar – Saturday

After staying in on Thursday, I had planned on going around town maybe to the beach or something else on Friday. However, life happens. More specifically, I had some abdominal/intestional issues. I didn’t get much sleep because of severe pain that I had. I realize this might be too much information for people, but it was a big part of 36 hours for me. When I woke up I started taking pills to help my digestive system, but it was pretty bad. I had to take a lot of pills. So, most of Friday I spent wallowing in bed from the severe pain that had me doubled over and making runs for the bathroom while trying to attempt to stay hydrated. That night, I slept like a rock and didn’t have any problems. Alhamdoulilah.

Feeling energized on Saturday, I decided to go to the Ile de Gorée. It’s an island that’s a 10 or 15 minute ferry ride from the Dakar port. While I was going to get on the ferry, I found myself standing next to a man. His name is Mark, and he’s from Rhode Island. He was a very nice man and we ended up talking a bunch. He’s traveling around assessing international schools – if I remember correctly. Basically, I want his job. He was in Madagascar last week. While we were leaving the port, I really wanted to take pictures of all the container ships and the port because it reminded me of home, and it always makes me happy when I can go across the world and still see the cranes my dad works on and the container ships. But I decided to wait for the return trip.

So, there we were, putting a long in this ferry. Then all of a sudden everyone starts looking to the port side of the ship (that’s left for all you landlubbers). The ferry started slowing down and began the process of turning around. I looked and it appeared that someone had dropped something in the water, because there was something floating there. But then all these other boats start gathering around and the ferry gets closer. It wasn’t just something, it was an entire man, and he was floating with his face down in the water. My heart raced because I was afraid he was dead. I’ve never actually seen a dead body outside of a wake, and I was scared. There were a couple of little skiffs that hurried over to him, and they actually almost went over him because of the momentum, but luckily didn’t. And another man jumped from the ferry and swam over to him to get his face out of the water. The men on the skiff grabbed his arms and held him up while the swimmer tried to get him to start breathing. He started coughing out water. I’m assuming everything was alright after that because the ferry turned around and continued on. The rest of the ferry passed by much less eventful.

Ile de Gorée – The island is a picturesque little island. It’s absolutely dreamy. A little paradise away from the downtown city bustle of Dakar. Upon arrival, I said goodbye to Mark from Rhode Island and began my tour of the island. I decided that I would start with attempting to walk around the exterior and then explore the middle towards the end. I started walking down the street (there are no motorized vehicles of any sort on the island) and saw how beautiful it was and pulled out my camera to take a picture. But alas, this silly traveler forgot to put in the camera card after going to downtown Dakar a few days prior. I wanted to cry. I was absolutely devastated. My first instinct was to find a place on the island that could sell me a card. I didn’t care how expensive it was. But there was no place. So, the day that I would’ve taken a bazillion pictures, I have none. So, I made a point of savoring every minute detail. Which made it a special experience, I think. I spent a lot of time looking closely at the flowers, the houses, the signs, the art work, scenery. I sat down and listened closely to the sound of the ocean beating against the rock cliffs which slightly muffled the yells from children playing football (normal football, not American football). I enjoyed the sun and ate my snack I had bought from a vender on the mainland. So, I wandered alone being all pensive and thoughtful – if I was an English major, I would’ve written a poem. :)

So, I apologize about not being able to share the pictures with you. But, it’s a blessing in disguise, because now I’m forced to do that English-major thing, and use: *gasp* ADJECTIVES!

Walking around on the ile was very peaceful. The entire island is tranquil and moves at a slow rate. The locals sit at their shops practicing the flute with their artwork on display waiting for you to wander through their corner of shade under the baobab tree. The streets are cobblestone and even in the residential area, you can tell that they’re still waiting for a tourist to wander by in wonderment of these ancient colonial houses that are still standing. Where the ferry dock is, there is one little sandy beach the children play on. There are fishing boats tied up there as well, but it seems that little piece of the island belongs to the kids. On the back side of the island, it quickly wanders uphill to the heart of the artisans area. Finding a quiet place to sit by yourself is a bit of a challenge, but not impossible. I went and sat near (near, but not too close) to a cliff that overlooked Central Dakar and their very impressive skyline. It’s really hard to imagine that Saint-Louis and Central Dakar are really in the same country when you look closely. The sun was gracing my white shoulders in one of my last attempts to soak up as much sun as possible in preparation for the return to what I’ve described as: Il est très très très froid. Il y a beaucoup de neige et de glace. C’est pas bon. J’espere que je reste ici pour plus de temps. Je suis triste. But, I will admit, while I write the French down with all the proper words included, I think I’ve picked up some poor speaking habits since being here. But, to continue, I wadered all the way to the back side of the island where there was a large turret (gun still there but cemented interior) much like the one’s at home in Dutch Harbor/Unalaska. I just sat there, watching the water roll upon the rocks down below, occasionally gazing over to the fisherman in the boats with life painted across the side in the brightest colors.

After doing my solitary wander on the bluff, I decided to head back into the heart of the town, get an afternoon Nescafe and head back to Dakar. While I was walking down, I saw a woman who had earrings for sale. It was actually the first time in my 5 weeks that I saw earrings. And let me tell you – my mom LOVES earrings. Every time I leave the country, she always tells me to buy her earrings. So, I sat down and started talking with the woman. We talked about the earrings, and then I told her I had been in Saint-Louis. Turns out, she was from Saint-Louis, and her husband lives on the Island of Saint-Louis, she lives on the Island of Gorée, and I live on the Island of Unalaska. We talked about Senegal, French, and a bunch of other topics – the entire time in French. Then she told me something that made me very happy. I don’t know if it is true, but she told me that I speak like a Senegalese person. Which means I don’t have an extremely horrible American accent that no one can understand. I bought two pairs of earrings from her and continued on my walk. I went back to the mainland, and back to the hotel to take a nap. Until the evening.

That evening, I went to Point des Almadies. It’s the furthest western point on the entire continent of Africa. Just to watch the Sunset. This time, I remembered to put in my camera card !

The statue that no one likes. I talked to the taxi driver about it, and the reason is because (obviously) it was a lot of money that was spent that could have been spent on more productive things - like fixing roads.

Sunset. From Africa.

All the pretty shells.

Kids playing.

The light house. This was later in the evening after sun had gone behind the clouds.

**Disclaimer : If there are any bizarre spellings of words, capital letters in random places or weird spacings it is not my fault. For some reason, my computer automatically switched to spell checking in French, and I’m not suer how to get it to stop.

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