Slave Island

Trip Start Jan 01, 2001
Trip End Dec 28, 2010

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Flag of Senegal  , Dakar,
Saturday, December 14, 2013

This morning we took the moped into
town to get the ferry to the Ilse de Goree, on the way we passed the
very colourful fish market. There are about 100 small boats that go
out everyday and return with the fish. This also makes it very
smelly. We also managed to drive through an area where they have lots
and lots of street stalls selling everything you can think of. We
then arrived at the port and had a really nice day with an English
speaking guide. It started with a 20 minute crossing to the island,
which is only about 1 kilometre long by 300 meters wide. The island
was first taken by the Dutch, the oldest building was built by them
in 1576, it is now the Police station. We went further on passing
through lots of small streets and alleyways, no vehicles are allowed
on the island. There are also some remnants of the French colonists,
it was also at one time British but no remnants remain. Sights
included the church which was visited by Pope John Paul on its 175
year anniversary. We also went up to an old fortification, which
started out as Dutch , but was then altered several times. At the
moment at the top are the remnants of some naval guns put up in 1907
by the French, They were only fired once and that was in 1940 when
they were used by the Vichy French to sink the British ship the
Tacoma. The ferry still has to do a wide berth to get in around the
wreck. The other point they make about here is that it was used as a
location for the film “The guns of Naverone”. It was used for the
rock climbing scene when they first landed. Some other buildings of
note are the old government buildings all of which date from the
1800's. The final building is the famous “House of Slaves” which
was built in 1778 by the Dutch and used to hold slaves before
shipping overseas. The men on entry were weighed and had to weigh 60
kg before being shipped. After the entrance room we were shown small
rooms that held the young woman. The rooms were about 12 foot by 8
foot and held 20 people . The children’s room was about 20ft by 6
ft and held 100 children on two levels. The main men’s and women’s
rooms were about 20 ft square and held 50 people. In addition that
had a couple of small rooms built under the stairs as punishment
cells. The final room again about 12 ft square was always wet with
water and was used as the main punishment cell were the person was
held until he died. There were two staircases leading upto the first
floor which is were the Europeans lived in a few very large rooms.
Between the two stairways was the passage that lead to the door of no
return. Once through this door the slaves were put on the boats to go
overseas, or dropped in the water to feed the sharks if already dead.
At the other end of the island is a French fort built in 1850 and
nowadays used as a museum but everything is in French so we did not
go in. Nowadays the whole island is very much a tourist area although
1200 people still live on the island. No new buildings can be built
and there are a few American, British and French people who have
bought a villa there and done it up. It is only a few since the
villa's cost about $1million each. We then returned to the camp, it
made a nice relaxing day for a change as it seems we have been
spending a lot of time getting hassle from police and customs
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