#3, Senegal/The Gambia, Jan. 2, 1995

I explored Saint Louis, walking the seven km into town in beautiful clear air that was just the right temperature. The French colonial influence lives, all right, although in a somewhat run down way.







I visited an island where the Wolof fisherfolk live. The Atlantic rollers were really coming in and scads of pirouques were out fishing. I walked back into town, took a look at two mosques, went through a museum and absorbed the French atmosphere over dinner. All of the tourists in Saint Louis are from France.

The next day I went on a little tour with four other tourists. We drove about an hour to Parc National des Oisseaux du Djoudj, a wildlife park north of Saint Louis, then got into a big pirouque with another party, to see the birds. There were thousands of herons and egrets, pelicans and cormorants.



We also saw a crocodile,
















a monitor lizard and two families of wild boar.


The white pelicans were huge, beautiful and would fish together like in a ballet.




They would all (4 to 6) put their heads in the water and tip over in unison.







After a couple of hours we landed and our guide began preparing food. We had a lamb stew with potatoes, onions, sweet potatoes and some canned carrots and peas, along with wonderful French bread and watermelon. I bought beers for us all so we really had a good time! We made a couple of inconsequential stops on the way back to Saint Louis. It was a lovely day, even though the guide and the other tourists spoke in French.

I took an early morning train back to Dakar. When checking out, the night hotel desk clerk had lots of trouble with my credit card billing. I caught my train at 6:00 A.M., saw the sun rise at 7:20, had a small breakfast on the train and arrived in Dakar. The woman called from the hotel in Saint Louis saying that the night desk clerk had made a mistake and had charged me the correct amount, but also 100 times the correct amount! She said she would put through a credit.

On New Year’s Day I got an Air Senegal flight to Ziguinchor, which is the main city in the Casamance, the southern part of Senegal south of The Gambia. I had been told that it might not be safe to go there as last year three rebel groups had formed who raided and burned villages. Apparently there were four French tourists that had disappeared, too, but it sounded like things were quiet now. After getting settled in a hotel in Ziguinchor, I walked over to see the Joola, a big ship, actually a ferry, that goes between Ziguinchor and Dakar, which I hoped I could take back to Dakar in a few days. Ziguinchor is a nice town—quiet but charming. There are many storks in the trees, and other birds, too.

I did more exploring the next day. I walked to the market, took some photos and bought a silver pendant and some postcards. I decided I would go to Elinkine later that day, which is a village on an estuary of the Atlantic Ocean. The bus that I got was a regular bus rather than a pickup truck—that was the good news, but the bad news was we sat five across with our shoulders overlapping. After two thorough police checks when everybody had to get off and they had to bring down all of the luggage from the top of the bus, we soon arrived in Elinkine.

I settled in at Le Fromager Touristique Campemant, a paradise, beautifully situated on the water and also on the ‘main square’ of the tiny village. This is really an end of the earth place, but really beautiful, tranquil, neat, and well organized. The proprietor, Mamadou and his wife made me feel very welcome. I know I will like it here!


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