Into the Unknown

Trip Start Jan 09, 2013
Trip End Aug 24, 2013

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Where I stayed
Les Hibiscus at La Palmeraie Cap Skiring
Read my review - 3/5 stars

Flag of Senegal  ,
Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Hard to leave Burkina Faso rural life to come to this bustling city of close to 10 million residents.  I gather Senegalese men like foreign women, as I've been propositioned 3 times already on my first day - they all want to come to Canada!  I understand that one woman wrote a story about her stay here and said that she received 1900 marriage proposals in that year!

My "Mama Africa" title has followed me.  The first shop I went into, the shopkeeper called me Mama Africa.  I wonder how he knew?

This will be a very different trip than the previous ones, I think.  There are 11 of us in the group - from 30's to 60's in age, all very fit and active - 3 Aussies, 2 Brits, 3 Canadians, 2 Americans, 1 New Zealander.  Unlike the other trips, this one is led by non-Africans - a woman from Denmark and a man from England.  I am having a hard time adjusting after having local guides who knew everything about the history and culture of their countries.  Thank goodness for the background I got while in Burkina Faso, as much of what I learned there about African culture seems to be the same here.  Now we just spend a lot of time getting lost and finding our way!!  We do hire local guides in the areas we are visiting, but the continuity seems to be lost.  Don't get me wrong - it is still a great trip - only very different from the previous ones.  The focus now is on the people and exploring - rather than history.

We are travelling in a monster truck - which creates lots of stares and interest in the areas we are travelling!

On Day 1 in Dakar, besides buying yet another outfit I can't fit into my suitcase, we also took a trip to Isle de Goree - which was the taking off point for the slave trade from the early 1400's until 1807 when it was abolished by England, with other countries following suit thereafter.  Did you know that the Portuguese were the instigators of the slave trade, and that in the 400 years they estimate that between 12 to 15 MILLION Africans were transported as slaves?  I just read a book by Wilbur Smith that described how they transported them - lying on their sides with the head of one person spooned into the feet of the next like sardines in a tin, and in a space just large enough to fit the width of the person sideways.  This for a 3 month ocean voyage!  That doesn't count the countless numbers that died before they started the voyage from abuse or suicide or those who escaped through mutiny in rare instances.  What a horrendous legacy!!!  To top it all off, the island was also a fortification during the Second World War, and there are still a number of bunkers there which some of the locals have made their homes -as well as several big guns still in place.  A beautiful island, but a horrible history.

Day 2 started off with my being left behind by my fellow travellers because I was the only person who didn't have a Gambian visa.  A car was hired for the day to take me to the Gambian embassy to get the visa and then to travel on to catch up with my companions.  Turns out that - even though the other 2 Canadians have Gambian visas, they are no longer needed for Canadians, so the effort was wasted, but it was an interesting day nontheless.  Turns out, too,  that my driver/escort are probably the only 2 people in Senegal that DON't speak French, so where I thought I was finally in a country where I would have no problems communicating with the local people, I needed to learn the native languages instead of french.  We had many a good laugh as we tried to communicate with each other.  However, after trying out the "really" local food (which cost 1500 CFA's for 3 full hot meals and two bottles of water, instead of the 3000 CFAs we have been paying as tourists), seeing a horrendous accident where 7 people were either injured or killed [I never did figure out which], we finally caught up with my companions, and I was on my way...

More in the next blog.  Internet connections have been non-existent, as they warned, but I'm having fun and all is well.  Lots more water and beaches on this trip, which makes me happy!!  Also lots more cockroaches, spiders, ants, bathroom facilities and light fixtures that don't work - but no snakes (that I've personally seen) or other poisonous things yet.  I'll tell you about the jellyfish later...!!

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Elizabeth Storochuk on

Thanks for the update,Maureen.Still ++snow here but fast melting.
Take care on this trip.Liz

Jas on

Thanks for sharing your adventure! I am certain that you have learned that in Africa you can expect the unexpected!! That's what makes it so interesting!

Debbie D on

OMG - you are truly experiencing a 'trip of a lifetime' and I'm so happy for you. Plus, I hear word on the grapevine that your application to be a National Geographic photographer has been accepted! Congrats! Stay safe, keep smiling & checking behind those doors.

Gary and Judy on

Am enjoying your history lessons each place that you visit,Maureen.Now if I could just remember it all.Carry on and keep safe.

Georgina on

Hey, must be that blond hair that the guys are attracted to.Loved to see those grass huts. Looks very Hot out there, too. Glad you haven't gotten ill
anywhere, yet.
Super windy today. Snow,sleet abit but will probably be rain later. Take care.

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