Thursday, September 22, 2011

Senegal, Initial Impressions

I don't have the time right now to do full justice to all that I'm thinking and feeling about my first days in Africa - Don and I are having wine and cheese in our room and talking about our day. Since over 90% of Senegalese are Muslim and do not drink, we will not dishonor our hostess, the proprietor of our bed and breakfast, by drinking in the common areas. She is preparing dinner as I type - and an excellent cook she is!

We have seen so much in just two days and I'm overwhelmed by how safe I feel, how lovely the smiles, how fascinating the people, not to mention educated. They may not have college degrees but we haven't met anyone who can't speak a minimum of three languages and smatterings of more. I'm ashamed that I can barely summon my high school French, the main language of Senegal, in which to communicate.

What struck me immediately was how much construction is going on here. If some of our unemployed contractors came over here they could likely make a fortune. New apt. buildings are going up all over where there has never been residential construction before.
On the other hand, in residential neighborhoods, all the streets are sand. Garbage pick up is free for all people but you must sign up and, since many don't, young boys in horse drawn carts, will go around and pick up trash for a few cfa - one u. s. dollar being 500 cfa. A half hour cab ride into the city runs under 5 bucks! The traffic though is mind boggling. We have swerved for goats in the capital city!

Today we went to Goree Island which some of my readers may not know about. That is a blog of its own and will come after I've percolated what I've seen, as my friend Andrea would say. It's the site of a holocaust that we don't study about in the history books - the site of the death of over 6 million Africans at the hands of the Europeans who had nothing on Hitler.

When we get to Johannesburg I will try to take a day to post some photos of our guides, Sineta George, the owner of the b and b, and some of the landmarks that we've seen. There are rolling black outs with the electricity and I want to recharge the batteries.

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