Archive for the ‘MSID Senegal’ Category

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Grace: Ba baneen yoon!

October 23, 2011

So tomorrow I’m leaving Dakar at 7 am and taking an 8-ish hour bus ride down South to Nioro Alassane Tall. Don’t bother looking it up on Google Maps, you won’t find it, but it’s in the southwest area of Senegal, just north of the Gambia.  There is very limited electricity and running water in the village, and I will be living in a hut, sleeping on the floor and showering with a bucket.  I’m actually really looking forward to the experience, to getting to know the people in the village, to my internship at the Poste de Sante.  And if I can’t survive 6 weeks of living conditions in a village, that’s pretty pathetic since the majority of humans since the beginning of time have lived their entire lives like that. 

Unfortunately though, my computer was stolen last Thursday (wahhhhh), which means my planned excursions to the nearby-ish town to find internet and feel part of the world again are now not going to happen.  So if you’re in the habit of checking my blog everyday, stop doing that.  And have a Happy Halloween, Happy Thanksgiving, good November, and I’ll see ya in December!

p.s. “Ba beneen yoon” means  “until the next time” in Wolof.

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Grace: Toubacouta

October 15, 2011

Just to start off, I would like to say how much I love the country of Senegal.  The people here are so amazing, the countryside and beaches are gorgeous, the clothes are so cool, the food is delicious.  I could go on and on.  I realized last week that I was half way done with my time in Senegal and I freaked out.  I don’t ever want to leave! Of course I miss you, burritos family and friends, but I just wish you could come to Senegal instead of me having to come back there!

Anyways, this weekend our program took a trip to the south of Senegal, to a village/town called Toubacouta (it has enough people to make it more than a village, but I would definitely not call it a town).  It’s about an hour away from the village where I’ll be for my internship.  I can honestly say that this weekend was one of the better weekends of my life.  It was not only super fun, but I learned a ton.  It was both a vacation and field trip at the same time, and it was awesome.  We also did a lot of stuff, so just to warn you, this post is a biggun. 

On Thursday we left Dakar bright and early. The earliness sucked, but we got pain au chocolat and juice on the air-conditioned bus, so the situation improved quickly. It was about a 7 hour ride on the bumpy roads to Sokone, a village/town just north of Toubacouta.  Getting out of the bus was rough, I had kinda forgotten what heat was, but I was quickly reminded with the blast of hot air that bombarded my face and body upon arrival.  After I pretended to get used to the heat again (it’s actually impossible to ever get used to it), we sat down for lunch at the mayor’s house.  They made us like 6 HUGE platters of ceeb u jen (fish with rice, it’s delicious) and we maybe finished half. And then I felt super full, like post-Thanksgiving full, and all I wanted to do was nap.  

Thankfully that was in the schedule, so we hopped on the bus (with a renewed appreciation for air-conditioning) and headed off to the hotel for rest time.  The hotel was super cool, it was a bunch of little huts instead of rooms and it had a pool.  I passed out, and enjoyed sleeping in air-conditioning for the first time in more than 2 months (Ok, I’m going to stop talking about air-conditioning now, I promise).

Me walking into our hut at the hotel, enjoying the blast of cold air greeting me at the door (for real last time.)
After nap time we went to a soccer game, which was a lot of fun.  The Senegalese are definitely not lacking in spirit, and it was fun watching people rush the field and go crazy after goals.  It ended up coming down to Penalty kicks which always makes for an exciting game.  2 things noteworthy about the game: there were people in the trees around the field, which I thought was an excellent idea.  They had a fantastic view. Also, after every goal scored and at the end of the game, the players would go to the corner of the field and face what I assumed to be the direction of Mecca and bow and pray.
Soccer game (yellow dots in tree=people)
After the game we ate dinner, played a Wolof trivia game directed by Waly and Kourka, and had a dance contest.  Needless to say I did not win the dance contest.

The next day we got up bright and early and headed to the Poste de Sante (health clinic) in Toubacouta. We met the head nurse who showed us around the small building.  The paint was peeling off the walls and there was a distinct smell of mold in most of the rooms, but I could tell they were working hard to keep it as clean as they could within their means.  The on-site pharmacy was very meagerly stocked, and the pharmacist explained to us that the health infrastructure in Senegal is set up top-to-bottom so the rural clinics are the last to get medications, and never have enough.  They had a price list on the wall, and a the fee for child was equivalent to $3, adult $4, and this includes both the consultation and the necessary medication (this is a new system, they used not to be together).  The patients are guaranteed the medication they need if it’s on site, but they said that often the medications aren’t available. And they said that most people can’t afford the consultation/medication fees, and complain about the new system.  We also saw the clinic’s ambulance which is currently not working (they said it breaks down a lot).  This means that when patients require further medical attention at a bigger clinic (beyond the Poste de Sante’s means), it’s very hard to transport them.  It was really tough seeing how hard the staff was working (the head nurse lives at the clinic and accepts patients 24/7) but how desperately they needed help/supplies.  I could go on talking about this (public health really interests me), but I still have a lot to cover, so I’m gonna move on.  Oh and by the way, the Poste de Sante that I will be working in during November will probably be pretty similar.

Next we went to the Community Radio station, and they talked about the educational programs they do.  They talked a lot about how important the radio is in an area where literacy rates are low and people learn well through culturally-specific programs in Wolof (shout out to you, Dad!).  They said their most popular program is the one on agriculture.

Me dropping some beats on the Toubacouta radio, nbd  (just kidding, this was staged)

Then we went back to the mayor’s house and he talked to us about decentralization in Senegal.  Not gonna lie, I kinda zoned out during this.  It was hot, I was hungry, and there were lots of flies.  Difficult to keep my attention on a man speaking French and talking about government.  When he finished, we ate, and I once again over-ate.  I named my food babies (they’re twins) Ceeb (wolof for rice) and Yassa (name of yummy onion sauce).

After lunch we went to a village about 30 minutes from Sokone to meet with a women’s group.  There were about 50 (give or take like 25…I’m horrible at estimating crowds) women under a tree and we sat with them and talked with them with Waly’s translation help.  These women come from extreme poverty and are so poor that they can’t even afford the microfinance loans because of their high interest rates (these loans are supposed to help the poorest of the poor…flawed system apparently) so they came together and established a joint savings account to help each other have enough money to plant fields and establish a sort of insurance in case one of their family members gets sick or their crops fail or something.  
These women are amazing.  They all work long and strenuous hours every day in their fields to supplement their husbands’ incomes and take care of their children.  Even with all that work though, they said that there are problems with the saltiness of the soil, so their plants don’t grow well, they often can’t afford the expensive fees at the Poste de Sante (yes, it’s hard to wrap our brains around the fact that $3 can be expensive, but poverty is a hard thing), and getting their produce to the market in the next village is very difficult.  There is no way that someone could say that these women don’t work hard, or aren’t innovative and smart, yet no matter what they do, they cannot escape poverty.  It’s stories like these that really reveal the vicious unjustness of poverty and make me hate when people try to blame the poor for their situation.

After the women spoke to us about their group, their lives, and their struggles, they grabbed some buckets and gas cans and started playing music on them and dancing.  The woman sitting next to me, Mariama, grabbed my hand and dragged me into the circle where I awkwardly tried to keep up with their awesome dance moves.  There was one old woman who I swear never touched the ground as she danced, it was crazy.  And it was so amazing that even with all the hardships that they had just told us about, their response was to get up and dance.

After about 30 minutes of dancing, we reluctantly climbed back on the bus and headed back to Toubacouta.  I really wanted to stay in that village with those women for longer, but I reminded myself that in just a few weeks I would get to stay in a village for relatively long-term and actually really get to know the women there, not just meet with them for a few hours.  It made me really pumped for my village stay.

The inside of the bus

The next few hours were pooltime, dinnertime, blah blah blah, skipping all that.  That night we went to “downtown” Toubacouta (where the market is in the mornings) because there was going to be a performance.  I didn’t really know what that meant, but when we got there there were a few hundred people (again, this is an estimation…probably really off) gathered around in chairs, on the ground, and standing in a circle around 10 or so guys with drums.  All these little kids started running toward us when we got there and grabbed out hands and insisted on sitting in our laps for the show, which was seriously just so adorable.  I had a little boy named Abdou on my lap the whole time, and he was so cute.

Okay so first of all, the music was amazing.  I never knew using only percussion could make such great sounding music.  Second, the performance involved more than just the band playing, which I discovered when this giant terrifying white furry monster burst out and started chasing the kids in the audience.  The monster then acted out a scene (narrated by the drum music, which was super cool) of a folklore story.

Scary monster playing drum

At the end of the story, five girls and five guys started dancing.  And OH MY GOSH. I seriously did not realize the human body had the potential to move in the way that those dancers moved.  Those girls whipped their hair back and forth like their lives depended on it and it was soooo fast (Willow Smith would have been proud).  I don’t really know how to describe all the dancing, but it was so awesome.  Then this guy on stilts came out and started dancing.  Did not know dancing on stilts was possible, but apparently it is.  He and some of the other dancers made this like crazy upside-down human tunnel thing which another guy break-danced through.  So awesome.  THEN came the freaking FIRE EATER, which completely blew my mind. AND THEN this guy with really cool dreadlocks proceeded to walk on, smoosh his face in, and roll around in broken GLASS. Needless to say, it was an excellent performance.  One of the students in our program (also named Grace) will be doing her internship in Toubacouta with this troupe and we are all SO JEALOUS. (Okay, sorry for all the capitalized words, everything was just too exciting for lame lowercase letters.)

The next day we got up and put on our shorts (first time I wore shorts in Senegal, I felt so scandalous) and took a bus ride through the bush (we were off-roading it in a vehicle not at all made for off-roading which was interesting) to get to the national park about an hour away.  We were planning on taking pirogues (small boats) through the amazon-like mangrove canals, but when we got there it turned out there was no gas for the pirogues, so we moved on to Plan B.  Plan B was a safari at a nearby national reserve. Read the rest of this entry ?

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Grace: Is this MY life?

October 2, 2011

About 95% of the time here I forget that this is real life.  When I was walking through the streets of Saint Louis, a gorgeous island off the coast of Senegal with colonial-style architecture, I felt like I was in a movie.  When I was in a car driving on the beach down the entire coast of Senegal, dodging seagulls and crabs as the ocean spray hit the side of the car, I felt like I was in a dream.  When I’m speaking Wolof with my family or having splash fights with kids on flooded streets, I feel like I’m just watching someone else’s life happen.  But then I have these moments where I stop and realize that, wow, this is my life, I am actually in AFRICA and these crazy and awesome things are happening to me.

I apologize to my vast and highly interested audience (aka, my mom) for the lack of posts.  It has been suggested that I change the blog description from “various musings” to “scarce musings”. However, if you look closely you’ll notice that this is actually my eighth post here, which I would say isn’t so bad for 2 months. With the electricity being as it is, classes/homework being as they are, plus all the things to do here being so exciting, blogging has kinda scooted down my list of priorities.  But I know all of you (and of course by “all of you” I mean “Mom”) are dying to know what I’m doing, so I will try to be better.

Important life update: in 3 weeks the classroom phase is ending and I will be leaving Dakar and heading down south to a village called Nioro Alassame Tall.  I assume you pronounce that phonetically, but I’m not exactly sure how it’s supposed to sound. Anyways, I will be living there for 6 weeks working in a clinic.  I’m not sure exactly what my job will entail, but I get the impression that I will be helping with the small stuff, taking temperatures, fetching things for nurses, etc.  I will be seeing firsthand the public health system in Senegal, and I’m super super excited.  I will also be living with a new host family in the village, and I assume that my living situation won’t involve rotating fans, a tv, wi-fi, and a pizza/milkshake place around the corner like it does here in Dakar.  Waly (program coordinator) told me that there should be somewhere where I can get on the internet within an hour’s walk. So by that I mean that my already infrequent blog posts will become even more seldom, sorry bout it. But I’ll try to write lots down so that I’ll have lots of stories afterwards.

Oh, and this weekend we’re going on a field trip to Toubacouta, which is a small town in the south that’s about an hour or two away from Nioro Alassame Tall. We’re all missing classes on Thursday and Friday and taking an (air-conditioned!!!!) bus down and staying in a hotel (with a pool!!!!!). Very exciting.  I will do a really long blog post with lots of pictures from Toubacouta to make up for how horrible I have been lately. This is a promise.

So I just read my friend Anne’s blog and she describes everything we’re doing really well (my trip to St. Louis, what our classes are like, etc) so if you want to know all that, go to anneinsenegal.blogspot.com.  I realize how lazy I am being right now, but writing all that down in detail sounds way too difficult, and I have to go do Wolof homework (first test on Tuesday, wish me luck!)

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Grace: Getting sick…

September 10, 2011

…with no electricity and only one bucket of water majorly sucks.  That is all.

Okay, wait, that is not all, this post would be way too depressing if I left it just like that.  Besides getting super sick and feeling really sorry for myself, this week was great.  We started all our regular classes (I’m taking Wolof, French, International Development, Country Analysis, Microfinance, and Public Health), and they were all really interesting and good.  My favorite class right now is Wolof because it is very applicable to my life right now, and the professor is hilarious.  It’s been fun coming home and impressing my family with practicing the Wolof I’ve learned in class.  I’m pretty impressed with myself for all the Wolof I now know, but I’m sure my family still thinks I’m mildly retarded when it comes to learning languages.  I’m sure they wonder why I still struggle to form intelligent French sentence structures after 6 weeks of living here.  But oh well.

After week 6, I’m finally starting to feel comfortable with the culture here, and I don’t feel as totally lost as I used to.  That’s not to say that I never feel totally lost, but now I feel like I know a little better what to expect, what I’m supposed to do, etc. Being here has definitely been a challenge, but it’s also been a lot of fun, and I’ve learned a lot in the process: about myself, and about both Senegalese and American cultures.  I still have like 12 weeks left, and I’m excited to learn even more.

Okay, I’m sure the electricity is gonna go out soon (it’s been on for like 5 hours…this is suspiciously long) so I’m gonna go ahead and post this.

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Grace: Korité, theft, & chocopain

September 8, 2011

Okay so let’s see, what have I done since my last post…I’ve finished my pre-session French class, learned some more Wolof, eaten lots more chocopain (the nutella-ish stuff that I love), completed the month of Ramadan (feeling like this is a major accomplishment, not that I fasted or anything…), celebrated said ending of Ramadan, had my cell phone stolen while buying an outfit for the aforementioned celebration, and made lots of new friends, both American and Senegalese.

Alrighty, let’s talk about Ramadan. I got to Senegal the day before it started, so I have gotten the full Ramadan experience. Before coming here, I knew what Ramadan was, but I thought all it really involved was skipping lunch. Turns out, it actually involves more than just not eating during the day.  During Ramadan, people don’t really hang out with friends, or go dancing (all the dance clubs in Dakar have been closed), or see their boyfriends/girlfriends, or wear makeup, or play sports. They pretty much avoid fun.

So on Tuesday evening, my family was frantically searching the night sky for the moon, which has to be there for the end of Ramadan to happen. We couldn’t find it anywhere. Thankfully, the moon-less sky was only in Dakar, and other places in Senegal saw it (don’t really understand this, but whatever). So Ramadan was officially over! This meant that Wednesday was “La Korité”, the end of Ramadan celebration. 

I really didn’t know what to expect with Korité, but I had heard that everybody buys new, traditional-style outfits for it, so last Saturday Anne and I went to the market to find dresses.  This was an experience. And I don’t really mean that in a good way. It was sooo hot, and there were pretty much a billion people there, pushing and shoving, 500 million of whom were trying to sell stuff to me or give me a henna tattoo. We had to squeeze our way into the center of the market where the pre-made, Korité-appropriate clothes were and try to find something that was a decent color and wouldn’t make us look obese. In the end, we were successful, and each found something we liked for about $20. We then managed to squeeze our way out of the market again and took a car-rapide home. And then I got home and discovered that I no longer had a cell phone…

So I don’t think I’ve explained car-rapides yet.  These are small, brightly colored buses that are the traditional means of public transportation in Dakar. Anne and I have been wanting to ride them this whole month, but we didn’t know how they worked and were a little scared, so we’ve just stuck with the boring old taxis. But Saturday was the day, and with the help of Ami, one of my family’s maids, who took us to the market, we got the car-rapide experience. Basically, there’s a guy hanging off the back of the bus and you hop on and tell him where you’re going and pay him (the going rate is like 20 cents).  Then you squeeze onto the rickety bus and try (and usually fail) to find a seat in between all the bodies.  When the bus gets to where you want to get off, the guy on the back hits the side of the bus and the driver stops and lets you off. 

Your typical car-rapide.

So after buying a new outfit, and hearing about Korité for weeks, I was expecting a pretty big shebang.  However, Korité day actually wasn’t that different. We ate lunch, which was new, but I’m assuming that starting today that won’t be that unusual. Oh, and we had this sweet yogurt-y stuff on top of oatmeal for breakfast (instead of chocopain like usual…this was sad).  Other than that, everyone just kinda sat around all afternoon and napped.  Towards the evening everyone changed into nice clothes, but nothing really special happened then either, except that the kids in the neighborhood came around to all the houses asking for money (it’s a little like Halloween, but not).


With my cousins (Aisha, can’t remember the baby’s name but she’s adorable, and Suley) in the courtyard of my house on Korité (note my new outfit)

Oh, and something else exciting that happened this week was that the rest of the study abroad group came! So now there are 18 Americans here, which means lots of new friends, yay! We start classes on Monday. I’ll be taking French, Country Analysis (culture/history of Senegal), Wolof (actually super pumped for this), International Development, and Public Health.  All in French. I’m pretty excited, I don’t know if I’ve ever had a semester before where I’m actually legitimately interested in all my classes.

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Grace: Why in the world am I here?

September 4, 2011

Up until now I’ve just been writing about what I’ve been doing, eating, seeing, and feeling in Senegal and not so much of what I’ve been thinking.  So let me first take a little dive into my thoughts for coming here in the first place.  Later I’ll talk about my thoughts now that I’m here.

Warning: this post may not be as entertaining as the others.

So first of all, I have grown up in a family with parents who regularly discuss the issues of poverty and the privilege we have (I was never allowed to substitute “starving” for “hungry), emphasize compassion for the poor in a Christian context (Proverbs 31:8-9: “Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy”), encourage thinking beyond ethnocentricity (growing up we were not allowed to say that people in other countries drove on the “wrong” side of the road, but the “different” or “other” side), and constantly exposed me to the international community (my parents have a lot of non-American friends).  From an early age I knew that there were billions of people less fortunate than me, that I had an obligation to do something for them, but that they were no less smart, deserving, innovative, or loved by God than me. I knew that my blessings in America were just that: blessings, and that I had done nothing to deserve them.

I also was blessed in high school with the opportunity to travel some, because my parents knew that they could tell stories about poverty until they were hoarse, but my siblings and I (this was before our family completion in 2008) needed to see true poverty for ourselves in order to really understand the extent of it.  Now, ok, I’m a little embarrassed talking about these trips, because they feel a little voluntourism-y to me now. Yes, the primary objective of these trips was for my siblings and my benefit. No, the “work” we did in orphanages in Myanmar didn’t really help the orphanages in any long-term way. But voluntourism or not, these trips changed my life by showing me first hand the harsh realities of poverty and loss. They were also a lot of fun, because let’s face it, traveling is awesome!

In 2008, my parents adopted my two brothers from Ethiopia. The addition of Amani and Habtamu into our family just emphasized all the more how completely undeserving I am to have grown up with such privilege. My brothers have also shown me that I am in NO WAY better, smarter, etc than “people in Africa”.  In a cultural environment (America) where “Africa” is a country and all “Africans” are starving, poor, and helpless, it sickens me to know that thoughts of superiority have crossed my mind more times than I’d like to admit. Oh yes, there are definitely starving, poor, and helpless people in the world. My brother Amani can recount stories of poverty that still blow my mind. And there is no doubt that Habtamu was helpless, as a 5 year old in an orphanage. But my parents didn’t “save” them, any more than a couple saves 5 and 10 year old American orphan. Orphans are orphans, the only difference is government protection and help. But anyways…

Through my (sorta strange) upbringing, international exposure, and brothers, I have developed a passion for the impoverished, and a huge desire to see the end of poverty, suffering, injustice, and preventable deaths. And after a trip to Kenya with a non-profit organization (my dad’s) to evaluate the effectiveness of their projects, I can’t quit thinking about ways to achieve culturally appropriate, sustainable development.

I also have totally fallen in love with Africa. Ugh, I actually can’t stand saying those words because I have heard them so often in a voluntourism-y, derisive context. Like “OMG, I met some African orphans while I was in Africa for a week and they were like soooooo cute and hadn’t even seen a camera before, it was so crazy! And there were some giraffes too when I went on a safari after working at the orphanage, and they were soooo amazing.  Now I’ve totally fallen in love with Africa! I just hope I can raise enough money to make a trip back next year, I just have to do something for those poor little African kids”. AHHHH. I really hope you can all see the millions of bad associations I have with “falling in love with Africa”. 

But I don’t know how else to say how much I love the variety of cultures, languages, peoples, triumphs, problems, landscapes, and faces to be found on this continent. So when it came time to choose a major, I chose International Studies with a concentration in African studies.  And when it came time to choose somewhere to study abroad (I am required to for my major), I chose Senegal.  Specifically, this program because it has a big emphasis on exploring the issues involved in international development. So that’s why I am sitting here in a house in Dakar, with a fan blowing on me (thank goodness), listening to the muffled sounds of Wolof conversation and the calls to prayer from the mosque.

This post definitely doesn’t cover all my reasons for coming to Senegal, nor does it even scratch the surface with explaining the situation we are in with development, the subjugation of Africa, voluntourism as a business, and general apathy.  But now you sorta know what I’m doing here, and can see that I’m (hopefully!) not like most people who visit “Africa”.  I’m not here to save the world, or enlighten the Africans with my Western wisdom. I’m here to learn, to observe, to think, to wrestle with issues, to make friends, and to have fun.

 

I definitely don’t have all the answers, but I know of books, websites, and people who have a few.

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Grace: Ile de la Madeleine

August 20, 2011

Today I feel like a real study abroad student.  All the stories I hear about students abroad sound so adventurous and cool, and now I feel like I have one of those stories.

This morning (not sure when I’m gonna post this…today=Sunday), the other two students and I decided to go to the fish market and try to hitch a ride with a fisherman to Madeleine Island, a little deserted island off the coast of Senegal, where we heard it was fun to hike.  We found a fisherman to take us there, and agreed on a price for him to take us and pick us up later (hopefully…we were kinda putting a lot of trust in this guy that he wouldn’t just abandon us on a deserted island).

We got into his little brightly colored fishing boat and took off across the ocean.  Now from the shore, the ocean looks super peaceful. Sure, there are waves, but they just roll along peacefully to make the scenery all the more beautiful. But no. When you’re actually out on the water, they waves are like 10 feet tall, and the teeny fishing boat was rocked all over the place, with water splashing inside. Not quite the peaceful ride I had been envisioning, but definitely fun nonetheless.

We passed Serpent Island (basically a giant rock with lots of bird poop, but no snakes on it)

and pulled into the lagoon (makes me feel like such a pirate/mermaid to say that word) of Madeleine Island. SO GORGEOUS.  The fisherman dropped us off on a rocky beach and took off.  The sense of being alone with nature was overwhelmingly awesome. 

Goodbye, fisherman! (you can see the boat leaving the lagoon)

The water in the lagoon was clear and cool, and the cliffs around us were black streaked with white (from bird poop of course), and we could see between the rocks to the ocean beyond. It was breathtaking.

We sat on the beach for a bit just enjoying how gorgeous everything was and looking at the cool shells, and then we decided to go exploring. I climbed up and along the rock cliff thing next to the water and came to the far side of the lagoon where I could see waves crashing onto the rocks below me and the ocean stretching out in front of me. Amazing. I kept feeling like I was on the set of a music video or mermaid movie or something. The awesome thing too was that the island seemed untouched by humanity, and there weren’t any roped-off sections, signs, or anything.

To the right there was another little rocky cliff thing, and I climbed over there and saw an awesome ocean-creek thing (difficult to describe).  The ocean water would come in from both sies of the “creek” bed and then crash in the middle. So cool. The power of the water was just crazy.  I also saw some cool crabs that were purple, orange and green while alive and red and orange while dead. 

After poking it a thousand times with a long shell and screaming once, I finally determined that it was safe to kiss.  This was actually crab-kiss attempt #2 because I imagined that the first crab moved, dropped it, and it shattered. 

There were tons of other gorgeous and amazing things around the coast of the island, but as my descriptions are miserably failing to accurately represent what anything looked like, I’m just going to stop.  And unfortunately my pictures don’t really convey how amazing this place was. So you will all just have to come to Dakar and go see Madeleine Island for yourself 🙂

I will say that we hiked around the top of the island and saw some GIANT baobabs.  I’m talking 10-15 feet wide baobabs that have probably been there for a couple hundred years or so.  I climbed up one and totally felt like Rafiki in Lion King. There was a lot of red clay around and I was SO tempted to get some and draw a baby Simba on the baobab trunk, but I refrained. 

We swam some in the lagoon too (when I say “we” I mean Anne and I; David didn’t want to get “all wet and blech”), and it was sooo cool, because the water was super salty and we didn’t have to do anything to float.  It was actually difficult to keep our feet under the water, they kept just popping back up.  There were lots of little fish in the water, which at first was a little gross/scary, but they were obviously uninterested in nibbling our toes, so we got along just fine.

At about 5:00 (we got to the island at 11ish), our trusty fisherman came back to fetch us, and he took our sunburned selves back across the ocean to Dakar. 

So now I have one of those cool adventurous-sounding stories to tell about the fun stuff I did while studying abroad. Unfortunately, stories will never be able to convey how breathtaking this island was, nor how amazing this day was.  So like I said, you should all come to Senegal.

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