After letting you in on my summer adventures I would like to tell you more about the trip I took last February. I was so fortunate to travel to Senegal with my lovely family. My parents decided that it was time for some sun and for a couple of reasons Senegal was the country next on our bucket list. This country in West-Africa is the perfect place to spend a holiday in February, it is warm but not too hot and it is popular with western tourists for its beaches but Senegal has a lot more to offer than than sun, sea and sand!
Our plane took off to Senegal for a trip with highs and lows like we could not imagine! This African country is a country of contrasts. This became immediately clear at our first stop. The capital city of Senegal, Dakar, is a nice city with a dark history, which is thrown in your face when you visit the little isle in front of the city. At île de Gorée, thousands and thousands of Africans left for a long journey to the other side of the Atlantic Ocean where they faced a gruesome destiny. Although this isle is a place with a horrible history, I had never been in a more colorful place ever before. Women are dressed in more colors than you can imagine, children are smiling and the men’s art is vibrant. Near the only pier of the isle is a restaurant with the best cook. He prepared the fish like only Africans can and it was, so far, the best fish I ever had in my life! Dakar itself is a mix of old and new and to see all of the sites it is recommended to take a guide through the wirwar of streets. It is a neat place to start your African experience when never been on this continent before.
On our way to our second stop, the beauty of the landscape and the people living on it were overshadowed by the plastic and dirt stuck in the trees next to the road. At our second stop, Warang, we visited a wonderful project, Les Cajoutiers, of a beautiful Belgian women. Sophie started the school in a village near the city Mbour and she provides education for more than 700 students. She does not only help the kids who learn easily and find their way to the school but Sophie also opened her project to deaf students. Every school day all the children receive a meal with rice, fruits and vegetables from their own school garden. Once you visit this remote school and its students you become aware of its beauty and the importance of the Western world who has to do something back for this charming continent from which the history is so dark thanks to our forefathers. There is hope, more and more people find their way to become godfather or mother from one of these Senegalese students thanks to which they can go to school. My father as well is the godfather of a sweet boy named Seringe, who is living in a nearby village. Although more and more westerners find their way to the project, there are still lots of children in the surrounding villages that cannot go to school due to the lack of money. Everybody can become a godfather or godmother, you only have to find your way on the world wide web towards Senegal out of your fluffy, good sitting sofa.
In Warang we stayed in a nice bed and breakfast, Le Kenkeni, managed by a good friend of Sophie. They bought a house in the middle of a village and renovated it to a cosy place with a rooftop terrace and spacious rooms. Our host took us to the nearby city Mbour were we did some necessary shopping and we visited a wonderful fish market with a horrible smell. This is a must-do when in the area, my family and I were the only not Africans at the market and it was a stunning experience to see how men sell all different kinds of fish and how women clean them and prepare the fish to eat. Next to the fish market is the site were the fishermen repair their beautifully painted boats. In the evenings our host was so kind to cook for us and he as well prepared the fish deliciously.
Our next stop was a wildlife lodge of friends we met a couple of years ago in Zanzibar. The lodge was more than just a tent and an outside shower. It was a luxurious room and after days without hot water and electricity at all hours of the day this was a nice place to rest and enjoy. The contrast between the poor villages and the rich Senegalese inhabitants and tourists is extreme and after living in the middle of a small village we were even more confronted with the fact that money is so life-changing. Although the kids in Warang had barely something, they were happy and enjoyed their lives. The Fathala Lodge imported wildlife animals such as elephants, rhinos and zebras and give them a warm home. Therefore, it is possible to make a small safari on the property of this lodge and see all those animals in their natural environment.
One of the staff members took us to his birth village, were we met his family and experienced how life goes on in a small village far from the bigger cities. In the afternoon he took us to a deserted island were we felt like we were in paradise. He and his mates organized a beach barbecue, which was, how did you expect, delicious again. In the evening we had dinner in our lodge and my family and I were so fortunate to be accompanied by Mr. Rhino who was having his dinner three meters next to us! Scary but so magical!
To end our trip we stopped for a night in a coast village named Saly. This is one of the most popular beach resort places of Senegal but lately this city is abandoned by tourists as well and some of the luxurious resorts start to become old and dirty. Due to the deadly illness Ebola, the fights of Boko Haram in Nigeria and the increased price of the visa the tourist stopped coming in the numbers they did before. This is a pity, though. There is no Ebola in Senegal, Boko Haram is far away and the visa prices diminished again. Lots of Senegalese familes’ income is based on tourism and since this totally shrunk the poverty increased. Dear readers, if you do not know where to go and you want to visit a beautiful country which has a lot to offer, book a flight to Senegal. Do not doubt, you will not regret it. And do not forget the visit, Les Cajoutiers, the children and Sophie will be happy to welcome you and the smiles of the children are worth more than a million.
I have to thank my sweet mom for the beautiful pictures she took during our trip!