Archive | October, 2014

Senegal 2014

26 Oct

I never wrote this. And I should have, Senegal inspired me. At the moment I had no time and later the inspirations and excitements were gone. But lately I have been triplining my trips (check them out: ). And when reviewing the pictures and places some mixed feelings came back. So let’s give it a try.

First the context: it was the end of February 2014, I had just defended my PhD thesis, and I had not been traveling for a while. I was more than ready to get going again. So why Senegal? It was warm, exotic, and without Jet Lag. And, since we are talking about Africa, safe.

I really roughed it the first days. I was traveling  with a young Senegalese, the brother of the boyfriend of the mother of a friend with whom I shared a flat once and whom I never met before. But let’s call him Sadio, because that’s his name. After spending a couple of nights in the suburbs of Dakar we hit the road to Dianah Ba. This is a lost village in the southeast of the country, were part of the family of Sadio lived. To get there in one day was a challenge itself. Think of 15 hours of taxis, buses, motorbikes, boats, and walks in bumpy roads. All this with a continuous bargaining and a non-stop eating of peanuts. The days in the village were quite interesting. Everyone comes to say hi to the white guy that Sadio had brought. And we went to see monkeys. Because I looove monkeys! Also, there weren’t many more distractions. At least there aren’t any that require electricity — there was none in the village—. After a few days we got back to the roads in direction to Ziguinchor.

I had only been five days in the country. But they were five days without electricity nor current water (except the first day in Dakar). And this is why I completely forgot about Ziguinchor until I was looking at the pictures. The city is ugly and does not have much. But my experience was that of finding an oasis in a desert. It happened that some relatives of Sadio lived in one of the prettiest colonial houses in the city, with its porches and plants, kitchens and bathrooms and well, almost all the first world things. We got there by night and left in the morning, but during those hours we got tea and food that tasted glory. We talked to the parents and the kids, who were the nicest people, and whom I just almost forgot. And this is what hit me and made me write. Traveling has these moments were some people show you their nicest side, who intimate with you faster than many people in your place, and then you never see them again and you almost forget about them. It gets me.

The trip continued to the beaches and islands in the west, to Serekunda in Gambia (more monkeys!) and back to the suburbs of Dakar. Always trying to find the relatives of Sadio and always succeeding. This was very surprising to me since in the suburbs there were no such things as street names and numbers and doors. We just asked people and walked. The end of the trip I did it alone up to St Louis and to the natural reserve of Djoujd’ in the north. Djoujd’ is an incredible natural park. I get very excited when I see animals in the wild and in this case it was special. They were the animals from The Lion King! No lions of course. It’s one of the first places with water after the Sahara, so thousands of emigrating birds stop here before following south. One can also see crocodriles, large iguanas, and Pumbas.

Looking back, this trip was probably the most intense, exotic, and harsh that I have ever made. I got to see a little part of the real Africa and I am happy for this.