(I wrote this in Cap Skirring was wasn't able to post it till now)
Greeting from Cap Skirring ! There’s so much that I feel worth sharing with everyone but I think that would make for way too long of an update. To begin with our vacation started in Dakar. My mom got hit by a car on the first day... haha. She’s not going to be happy when she knows I’m sharing this information with everyone. Don’t worry, it was barely a tap and it was their first day so with the time difference, crowds of people and culture shock she has many excuses. Though Dakar was a good visit with good meals and quite a bit of sight seeing, the bussiness and in your face atmoshpere of this city was a quite enough for my parents after a few days.
After a 6 hour delay, our plane finally made it to Gambia (country right in the middle of Senegal, colonized by the British, speaks English) This place has made a colorful imprint on all of us. First of all we had quite a character for our chauffeur/taxi driver/guide. His name was Kebba. Yesterday we all had a heartfelt goodbye when he dropped us off in Zinguinchor. One funny incident we had with him was after we had visited the Makasutu forest. Our guide there informed us of all the mudicinal purposes of the plants and trees. We all found the most interesting to be the root of a specific tree which if soaked in water acts as a natural viagra. Before hand I had noticed a mysterious bottle in Kebba’s car and on the way back from Makasutu, my mom picked up the bottle and asked what it was as pretending to take a big gulp. This led to quick a few good laughs and we gave Kebba a hard time about it the rest of the way home. I took a priceless picuture of him driving the taxi, wearing my dad’s safari hat and drinking his “special solution.”
My first morning in Gambia I woke up to the sound of chopping and when I went outside to check it out, it was a few guys chopping down coconuts. I sat there on the grass with them and drank for the first time the milk from a fresh coconut. This has been something on my life list....quality moment.
In Gambia I had my first experience seeing the field work of a non-government organization. Funny how I was in a different country and with a different organization than CRS in order to do this. A couple staying at the same hotel as our family invited me to go with them to see the school they had sponsored to build. We hopped in a jeep and took the only narrow, sandy road to a small village in Gambia called Madiana. We were greeted by 60 nursery school kids cheering and yelling as we drove up. A couple from Holland who now live in Gambia help local communities build schools, cliniques and other needed structures. They were sponsored by this the Holland charity group to build this specific school. The town had a meeting while we were there and discussed some of the issues with the school. A difficultly in Gambia is that children have to pay to go to school in order to have materials and provide salaries for the teachers. Though it is only a the equivalent to a few dollars a month, it is too much for many families. I realize that finding these types of funds is not necessarily the most difficult part (100 dollars would make a big difference), but instead it’s organizing, distributing and ensuring that these funds are used properly that is the big obstacle. I really like how this Holland couple saw a need and decicded to address it. Now they are attempting to expand this aspiring INGO. This excursion was a good reality check..
Everynight my mom, dad and I end the day laughing usually at some type of money scam that we fell for, or typical tourist ignorance that we were a part of which was usually mispronouncing almost everything, or falling out of hammocks and then there was a certain accident that I’ll only tell to a specific audience (Suzanne you’ll like this one).
We drove from Gambia to Casamance and had to say goodbye to several friends that we had made in that wonderful country including Kebba and Ba, my running buddy. We discovered the adventure of the the roads here in Africa. It’s almost like a workout sitting in the car because you’re bouncing around so much. Actually I do have to give credit that some areas are in good condition but after a 5 hour drive to Cap Skirring, that was enough for us all. Oh, we saw Baboons on the side of the road!! That was maybe another life list, to see a Baboon. Cap Skirring in on the southern coast of Senegal. They claim to have the best beaches in Western Africa, and I believe it. Though we’ve only been in the southen region for a day and a half, there seems to be a much more relaxed atmosphere. Less people and they are less forward. Instead of “Hello, do you have a husband?” it’s just “Hello, how are you.” A nice change.
Yesterday my mom said to me that every person, especially students, should have an experience abroad, in a country less developed than our own, like Senegal or other countries in developing areas in the world. What a great comment to be hear. A definite change from when I first told my parents that I want to go to Senegal.