09 October 2015
Gorée island is senegal's most popular tourist attraction. Ok so here's the story in a nutshell. Europeans occupied and lived in half of the island while they used the other half as holding cells and prisons for stolen African men women and children. They were all kept in cramped unsanitary conditions, beaten, raped, tortures, punished, killed, until the slabs ships returned from the Americas to pick up a new batch of victims. The Europeans threw the daily dead/ murdered bodies into the ocean to keep the ocean shark infested this in addition to heavy chains and weighs on each person ensured certain death for anyone who tried to swim home to freedom. All of this cruelty was out of view from the mainland Africans and the Europeans were able to commit whatever horror in that island while other Europeans worked at colonizing and torturing the ones still on the main land. No one could save anyone there was a mass invasion violent lunatics, the continent and the America's would never be the same again.
Ok so once the taxi dropped us off we bought our boat fare tickets and wee quickly helped by a soft spoken gentle tour guide. He oferres his services, we gladly accepted. While waiting 49 minutes for the next ship to sail he went to pray at the nearby mosque and we waited outside in the cool air while many other people rolled out their mats to pray. Dude was impressed that so many people "did yoga like mommy" but was quickly corrected and taught about island prayer times.
Boat named Georgia... Following those signs!
The boat ride was full of action, including a musician playing something called a Kess Kess. He tried to teach the kids and sell us the hand held maracas but I promised him unwound have to pay our guide first and eat before I bought any souvenirs. He understood.
So after that long nap yesterday I couldn't fall asleep last night. I fell asleep again at 2am then woke up at 5:45 to use the bathroom. While I was in the bathroom I hear something... Like a man moaning...? Singing...! It was faint but lovely... It was the call to prayer at the nearby mosque!! My heart leaped with joy. After that I could barely sleep, but finally drifter back to sleep after a while. When I woke up again it was 9:45am the kids were still knocked out. I woke them up at 10 and started rushing them to get ready I left hen in the apartment for all of 10 minutes while I bought eggs, water, Apple juice, grapes, a regular baguette and a baguette with whatever that is they are putting in it. I have no idea what this spread is but everyone orders it, so I wanted to try.
Just as we were having a late start so were our neighbors that live in the vacant lots on each side of our building. Although they look very poor I sure hear a whole lot of happiness, laughing, singing, happy chatter. They look like they live a tribal village life in the city. They are in make shift wooden shacks, have a horse and wagon, sleep outside under the stars, cook and wash clothes outside too. I'm not sure what there is left to do inside. Also when I look down at night i see he light from their cell phones and iPad shining up at me. Here is a pic of them lounging around in the morning.
Once we were done eating I called be apartment owners mother to see if she knew where to change money. She called me right back and told me to go downstairs and talk to the "garçon" (guy) who will give me directions... Not Francois. By the time we got downstairs we were dripping wet with sweat, another scorcher. The garçon, Albert, explained to me that the bank down the stree would be able to change money. It was about a 15 minute walk... I'm the hot son. He and Francois looked at me then looked at the boys like "so you ready for them to die on the walk to the bank, or nah?" They both asked me to leave he boys in the apartment with them downstairs in case of emergency while I went to the bank. I reluctantly agreed.
I took then upstairs told them to FaceTime alphapoppa in case of emergency or to get Francois downstairs and that I'd be back in an hour. Brewer were concerned for 5 minutes then thrilled to be on their iPads. Thanks boys. When I got downstairs Albert was there waiting with car keys in hand... "Come on I'll drive you". I wanted to jump for joy but I'm sure he already thought I was a weirdo so untried to play it cool with a genuine heartfelt "Jerejef" wolof for thank you!
Not only did he take me to the bank he waited for me and it was a loooong wait. I stepped into the bank like I'd just been flipped out of one demension into another like in that old tv show quantum leap. I saw a counter with 4 people sitting behind it and about 15 people sitting in folding chairs apparently waiting their turn to talk to the unofficially looking bankers. I stood there at the doorway for the longest ever 4 minutes awkward and confused. I thought to myself "Oh that guy looks like a security guard... Maybe I can ask him what to do... He's sure going to think I'm retarded for not knowing what to do in a bank" just as I walked over and opened my mouth I saw a ticket dispenser. I closed my stupid mouth, grabbed a number and threw myself down in the closest chair. I have number 782. I held onto it for dear life and watched oeople go up one by one after hearing a bell sound. I glanced at the guy next to me. His ticket said 778. So I was four people after him. Once he gets up I'll wait for 4 bells then I'll get up and walk in that direction, then I'll figure he rest out during the ten step journey.... Smh I'm pitiful... After 15 minutes of mystery bells my eyes accidentally ran across a sign at the top ofnthenwall near the ceiling that flashed the next number and the ticket window to go talk to. It was at number 762... Seriously people?!?!?! Ok so I was convinced that Albert would be leaving in the next 5 minutes but I couldn't even be mad and knew the at home. After forever I got my money and headed out... Albert was still there!!! Holy Quran I was thankful.
During our short drives I learned a lot about him. He was born and raised in Dakar. His English was good but he's never been to an English speaking country. For work he'd been to Amsterdam and Shang hai China but in both places he communicated in English with his coworkers and peers. He had family members in Atlanta, was on his way to England, and was happy to practice. During our conversations I mentioned that the kids and I were on our way to Gorée island and that tomorrow we'd go to the pink lake by taxi. He was excited because he himself had never been to the pink lake. I invited him to join us. He agreed but insisted on driving and not taking a taxi. I offered to buy gas he also refused that. We agreed to meet tomorrow at 11am and he was happy to see his country through a visitor's eyes.
Whe I got back to the kids they hadn't moved from where I'd left them. I swooped them up with the quickness and off we went to Gorée island.
After leaving the statue Aida was kind enough to join us at the divinity mosque, one of the more popular mosques in Dakar. We just went in briefly B to look around but the kids got a quick lesson in Islam and their house of worship.
The taxi waited for us to we couldn't spend much time there. Once we left we dropped Aida back near Ma Khady's house and she asked the driver to take us to les almadies, where I was told we would find a beach and a restaurant.
On he way their our new taxi driver almost got in a fight with a truck driver who was blocking the road. The people here are super chill until they start driving then it's like bumper cars! Yikes!!
On our route to les almadies we passed the huge US embassy. We found a lol restaurant to wag at bug the flies were in attack mode and it was hot, we were sweaty and tired. The beach didn't even look good. Here was far more rocks than sand. After waiting forever to get our food we ate and I made an executive for us to go home. Dude wa upset about not going to the beach, but agreed that the rocks didn't look fun.
As soon as we got home I fell asleep for HOURS on the couch. I was whooped. Senegalese sun 1. Echo 0... But still felt like see was winning in Dakar.
We woke up at about 9am. The city was already on the move. I quickly made everyone shower and drink something. The shower has hot water and it was such a relief to not be beaten with the ice cold drops we so often encounter in our travels. This apartment is beautiful. Even though their are three bedrooms we stick together, lol. Dude and I let Zane have the bed in the room closest to us, since that's where he fell asleep. He and I decided to sleep on the couch. With the balcony right there and a fan going it was comfortable am enough to sleep well.
After getting dressed I called Ma Khady. Ma Khady is a friend's ex- mother in law who lives here in Dakar. She lives near the Renaissance statue and invited us over to mean her. Before leaving out house I recharged my phone card and we also bought apple juice, bread rolls, and other drinks. We came home and quickly ate, then ran to the street to get a taxi to visit our new friend.
She explained to our driver in Wolof where to go, but he somehow misunderstood and took us to he wrong side of the statue. Actually he was a little off all the way around and since he didn't speak French it was even harder to communicate with him. He drove like a bat out of hell and even hit a guy on a bicycle. The poor guy was ok but he could have easily been killed. Before our driver even hit him I thought "this is not somewhere I'd want to be riding a bike!" Our driver didn't even stop to check on him, but from what I could see in the rare view mirror he didn't fall off the bike and even though we pushed him in front of a bus he narrowly escaped being hit by the bus too!
No surprisingly Ma Khady's home was on a street where almost every house was still being built. He house was GORGEOUS, like the royal family lived there or something. She explained to me that she work in the embassies here and in the US. We also met her niece Aida, who was there visiting. Aida was 23 years old and wanted to join us in seeing the monument. We all agreed she could help us get around in Wolof too!
So after chatting for a while and getting a cold drink on a scorching hot day we jumped in Ma Khady's car and she dropped is off at the monument just a couple of blocks away. The monument was awesome just like I'd imagined. The sun however was brutal and the staircase was loooooong..... Dude bounced his little body up the stairs while Aida, Zane, and I struggled like we were swimming against the tide. The struggle was real and the sun was not playing. When we finally reached the top we sat on a bench in the statues shade and just threw out heads back to catch the breeze.
The view was amazing and after about 15 minutes we decided to go in the statues museum for a tour. The tour starts with the history and construction on the statue. It also talks about what inspired it. I won't give it all away for you please research the African Renaissance statue in Senegal and let me know what youve learned. The part of the inspiration was to connect with the African diaspora, so the kids were happy to also see pix of MLK, rosa parks, Malcolm X, and Obama in the museum. They didn't recognize Marcus Garvey so they will be learning about him more in the near future.
Other sections included a children's movie theater, arts exhibits, and these tall statues made of dirt. The kids were afraid at first. Dude was convinced they had real eyeballs and that was freaking him out. After a while they warmed up and started to take silly pix.