07 July 2011


Having wrapped up our first session last week, I 'ventured south with three of my friends here to a collection of fishing villages called Palmarin. 'Ventured, because travelling in Senegal is no easy task. Any major transport outside of the Dakar-Rufisque area requires a bush-taxi or sept-place. The taxi terminal is like a parking lot with spots demarquated in tye-dye. There's an order there but we couldn't discern it. After bargaining with a throng of drivers, we found one from Palmarin at a reasonable price, which was in our favor given that an hour of the drive was off-roading through sand flats that only a local could navigate. Once we arrived to the Gîte (bush hotel), we found ourselves to be the sole guests in an eco-oasis. Individual huts constructed from local thatch and mud with clean and rustic interiors, food caught/harvested and prepared on the same day, and a wide, albeit trash-strewn expanse of unadulterated (that is, by vendors) beach. The four friends that we made who managed the gîte took us on horseback excursions through the baobab groves, pirogue rides through the mangrove forests, and fishing trips along the banks of the Saloum River.

Unfortunately, I could not be completely at ease. One of the biggest lessons that I am learning here is to be aware of my skin color. Unlike most of my life in the United States, my skin makes me a minority in Senegal, a minority with a lot of stigma and history attached. White skin still bears the stain of colonization here, and I couldn't help feeling bothered when all white traveler's were waited on by an entirely black staff. Or when we rode through the nearby village on horseback, the image of Senegambia's first colonizers parading through villages on horseback changed our casual jaunt into an eery historical re-enactment.

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