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Senegal

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View A Backpack, A Bicycle, And a Bonderman Grant to Travel the World on dericvito's travel map.

My initial impression landing in Dakar was that Senegal is more similar to India then southern Africa. The people are aggressive, friendly, cunning and proud. The hospitality rivals the 40 cups of tea I accepted in Syria. The food and the clothing are spicier and more colourful. The streets are jammed in Dakar and its dirty. Religion is everywhere, but mostly on mini-buses, alongside American flags.

I had two weeks in Senegal, the first with my friend Casey continuing from Cape Verde. We headed straight north and arrived on the former colonial capital island of St. Louis on the eve of Mohammed's (the prophet) birthday. A Frenchmen from our bus named Lula (which coincidentally? is a word for white man in Senegal) took us to his friend´s home. Our first meal was home cooked and a preview of what I was to be eating for the rest of my time here, fish (preferably with Theibu-Jen pictured below). Actually for the last month I've eaten fish pretty much everyday.I now probably prefer it to any other meat, although I've never ordered in any restaurant in the US. It was also citrus season so a steady supply of oranges and grapefruits kept my hydrated was Casey was not pushing water.

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To celebrate the holiday, each mosque in the city set up a tent, which only filled up at midnight with people dressed in their finest gear. Some sang, danced and drummed, others watched. After strolling the island for a day we returned to Dakar, then on to the peaceful abode and lodge of Ras Umu on the island of Goree.

One of my favorite places from the my first week in Senegal was our lodging in Dakar. It was just a regular apartment building for seemingly middle class Senegalesse. There was a shared kitchen and bathrooms and TV space. Families and travelers all mixed together.

I arrived in the Casamance region for my second week in Senegal by boat. I slept very well in my private bunk in a cabin of eight. I love traveling by boat. It has all the isolation of an airplane with none of the crampness and foul air.

I had not intended on coming to French speaking Africa, but due to the overwhelming gregariousness of the people here it turned out not to be much of a barrier to meeting people. I used my TV French 'tres bien' as opposed to my father´s TV dinner French 'french fries' I now default to ´Merci´. I also used of course some English a bit of Arabic and a smattering of Spanish. With that I met tons of people while cycling between and over the waterways of the Casamance trying to avoid the rumored bandits and more real seperatist-government skermishes. At one point a solidier stepped from out of the woods from nowhere to see if I needed assistance with a flat tire. I give him a cookie and he diappeared just as quickly. Here are a few of the people I met:

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Nana (with his wife) is a entrepreneur from Ghana. He left home, and his children (and wife?) to come to Senegal to get a visa for Europe. Failing in that regard he met his current wife and settled down in the crossroads town of Bignona. He started out "hustling" household goods door to door before making enough to build a barber shop which he now compliments with a mini-market and restaurant. He's working on securing food for a meat shop. He wants me to send him a shipping container of American waste to sell.

Fatur (in her restaurant) left here village with her mother to run a business in a slightly larger town with a large fishing industry and tourism. She's 24 years old, not married and spends her days 10am to 10pm at her small restaurant making and selling all the Senegalese classic dishes, from Theibu to Maffe. She´s open to proposals from a variety of men.

Aleiu (next to his friend in yellow) is a student in high school, with a few years left to go. He lives in the village of Albadar, where if you don´t have oranges trees you haven´t got anything.´´ Aleiu speaks good English and his friends speak little though they attend the same classes. His grandfather is the chief. Don´t forget to bid him farewell when you depart the village.

Boubka (in front of his family helps out at his family´s lodge, sweeping the sand. His father, his father´s two wives and a bunch of little ones live in a small house on the outskirts of town. They can´t afford locks on their doors and someone stole his bike. He speaks passionately against corruption though his face shows little expression when he talks.

I stumbled upon a workout of the pro-basketball team in Ziguinchor in the Casamance and got my feet on the court for the first time in six months. It felt pretty good and I held my own though I was impressed with the level of play. Everywhere in Senegal you see boys in training, mostly jogging through town or along the highway, sometimes with their team and sometimes alone. Soccer I assume is big business and a big opportunity here.

I am currently in Brazil. Resting in Sao Paulo why slowly making my way northwards towards home, which is very much on my mind as are all of you.

Posted by dericvito 14:26 Archived in Senegal Tagged bicycle

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Hi Deric
We are still enjoying your super trip. Saw some pics from Unc the other, absolutely captivating. We miss you lots. When are you coming home? Senegal sounds mad. Just stumbled on a b'ball game did ya??!!! Only Deric could pull that off! We are thinking of you as spring approaches. The air smells really sweet. Dean says that you were in a really weird dream he had the other day - but that's about all he remembers (typical Dean dream). Be safe.
Love you
Dean and Louise

by Lou-Dean

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