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Friday, August 26, 2011

Senegal Diaries

A month is enough time to start to understand a place....IF YOU SPEAK THE LANGUAGE AND DON'T WORK 15 HOUR DAYS.  So, needless to say, I spent most of my time in Senegal working and trying to communicate or trying not to have to communicate.  I spent a couple of my weekends traveling to field sites outside of the city and a couple weekends in Dakar.  Any free time I had in Dakar was devoted to jogging along the ocean drive or laying by the pool at the hotel.  However, you should know that there is a lot more to see in Senegal. I've done most of my sightseeing in previous trips so I didn't do any intense touristy stuff this time. But Senegal has a lot of historic places to visit.  For instance, Goree Island - a small island about 45 minutes away by ferry where slaves from around Africa were processed and held before transporting across the Atlantic. You see some really really sobering stuff there. I remember seeing a tunnel/doorway that opened to the steep cliffs and a huge drop to the ocean below. That is where the would throw the weak or disabled people out to die.  That really struck me. It's important to pay respect to those sites..but seeing it twice was too much for me. So I skipped it this time around and used my free time to relax.  Which was easy to do where I was staying - Have a look below - and yes, you will feel little pangs of hate for me because this place was pretty nice but I promise to balance it all out by showing you some photos of the crappy places I stayed when I was in the field, outside of Dakar. So, first the good:
I was first in a room like right across from where the band played EVERY NIGHT- so I did some mega complaining and got an exec suite with a wrap around balcony for half my stay there ;-))

You could get to said balcony from my bathroom or bedroom area. Nope, nothing to hate about this set up.

Breakfast Room
Chilling was pretty much my job on Sundays. I actually named my chair..that's it on the end.  Chairy. Creative, I know.
Sorry, back to my room - this was my bathroom. What you cannot see is the shower facing the ocean. I made myself take turns using the two sinks and the bathtub was my washing machine. I had clothes hang drying all over my balcony and room. I definitely downgraded their luxury status while I was there.
This was my second favorite part of the trip...#1 favorite being having a beach front hotel. It's MANGO!! What?! AFRICA?! They also had Benetton in this mall. AND it was attached to my hotel! It's like seeing double rainbows - that's how I felt then and I still get butterflies thinking of when I first walked in ;-)
Okay - so you've seen the GOOD....Now for the bad and the ugly.  I actually don't have many photos of the other places because it was depressing and I wasn't feeling inspired to take photos.But this is what I have for you:

Squatting toilets - The type I used during my days in the field. It may not look horrible to you but you didn't have to smell the stench of uncleaned urinal and get your pants all wet from the floor because some people have bad urine-squat coordination.  Not pleasant...oh and the flies sucked and there is no hand washing - I never go anywhere without baby wipes..just an Africa packing tip for you.

Okay here is the view of my little room in small town Senegal. The photo actually makes it look nice. But imagine Alcatraz, add a prayer rug, a TV that plays 1 Wolof speaking station, and one stinky stinky mini fridge that is growing moss inside. And this is actually really nice living conditions for where we were. So, in actuality I'm not complaining here, I'm just describing. I kept Sergio updated by sending him real time photos of where I was - he called the chair area "the hotel restaurant", which made me laugh.

And now for some other random photos that I snapped while being in Senegal:
Awkward arms-at-your-side photo of me and the office driver

Another Double Rainbow Moment for me- The sun was like a spot light in the ocean coming out of an otherwise dark and murky sky.

Monument De La Renaissance Africaine

Little Khalil Shop - We sell snacks, beverages, prayer rugs, incense, charcoal, and pirated DVDs

Very cool looking Mosque RIGHT on the beach

I love these Painted Fishing Boats -
Lastly.....the flight home:
7am - Breakfast.

This kid was traveling alone so I let him listen to my IPOD..then he destroyed my IPOD.

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