Thanksgiving Day (USA)
We arrived in Dakar, located at the western most tip of Africa on the Cap-Vert peninsula. Dakar became the capitol of Senegal in 1960 when it achieved independent from France. Besides their individual tribal languages, the people speak French, the national language. And many speak English too.
Our guide,” Monty”, met the ship with a very nice van for our group of 8. He told us about his country as we drove around Dakar. Senegal has 12 million people and 2.4 million live in Dakar. The predominant religion is Sunni Muslim but they are accepting of all religions and our guide said he celebrates Christmas with his Christian friends and they celebrate with him on Muslim holidays. He and his wife are from two different tribes, which he told us is common.
Downtown Dakar has a small city feel. Multi-storied buildings are more visible in the city’s skyline from the bay and the city stretches down the coast a long way. I have to tell you that most of the buildings we saw have a rather worn out colonial-era appearance, especially as you leave the city center. Unfortunately, it’s hard to describe what we see without letting “western” comparisons sneak in.
These are the Palace gates, the flag flies when the President is home.
Here’s an entrepreneur – Senegal “Starbucks” and a very colorful bus.
A couple street scenes.….. it’s hard to take pictures from a moving vehicle!
We visited a Sand Painting Workshop. Very cool. They paint a picture or design on a board with glue, then sprinkle colored sand over particular areas. Tap off the excess and, voila, a picture! It has an almost 3D effect.
We took a ferry to Goree Island, a UNESCO site. We toured the building where slaves were housed before being shipped across the ocean. It’s compelling in an “Auschwitz” sort of way. People were divided by sex and age and crammed into small rooms, a foreshadowing of the crowded ships in their future. The island is home to around 1200 people now.
I love the colorful clothes the women wear!
They have quite a road system here. We drove on a “super highway”, very familiar to us if it weren’t for the cars and buses stopping to pick up people who would dash across up to 6 lanes of traffic! Couldn’t help but ask our guide about pedestrian accidents. Not surprisingly, there are quite a lot. That particular highway was built by a friend of the President. It’s one way they get things done here – but many roads and buildings aren’t actually finished. We saw people living in incomplete apartment buildings.
We had an amazing visit to the Parc Zoologique. I’m afraid this is a very sorry zoo in comparison to what “we” are used to but the experience was top notch! We had a private tour of the zoo with the zoo keeper (wearing a camouflage uniform and flip-flops). He had quite a rapport with the animals, talked to them and even climbed into an enclosure! He got a big hug from a 9 month old lion (the size of a big dog) – here’s a picture to prove it! Will called him Dr. Doolittle.
Back on the ship we enjoyed a wonderful performance by the National Ballet La Linguere.
And since it was Thanksgiving we had our own traditional food for dinner, turkey with all the trimmings. (I missed Joanne’s sweet potatoes though.)
Another amazing day. And a little photo of a big cat.