14 October 2015

Last morning

Our flight departs at 11:25 but I wanted to get o the airport at 9am.  We woke up at 7:15 and got dressed.  All of us had stomach aches.  I think partly from the malaria pills and partly from eating so much local food that our bodies aren't accustomed to.  Zane had it the worst. Poor kid was running back and forth from the toilet to being balled up on the couch.  He isn't have a fever so I didn't give him any mess and hoped he could just pass whatever was upsetting his stomach.  

At about 8:15 I called Francois to look over the apartment and check us out.  While finishing up everything Zane jets off to the bathroom and is in ther moaning groaning.  I tell him to take his time to make sure he gets it all out before we have to get in a taxi.  He comes out looked beat up, comes over to hug me but before he can even reach me he starts vomiting!!!! 

I do everything I can to NOT go into panic mode.  I too had been feeling sick and we sure that both of our problems were from the malaria medication we'd both been taking. My greatest fear was bringing him to the airport and him throwing up; after visiting west Africa that would be a sure way of being quarenteen mrs for Ebola.  I quickly wiped up the watery vomit while Francois was on the balcony.  I cleaned Zane up and told him that we were going home he'd just have to be sick on the plane.  He said he isn't need to throw up anymore but he was tired.  Francois and Dude were very concerned, Francois offered to take us to the doctor who owned the apartment but I refused I was determined to make it to the airport on time and get my sick baby home. 

Francois hailed us a taxi, I thanked him for all his amazing help, and we were off.  
At the airport things were great Zane had a few woozy moments but never threw up again.  The attendant who helped check us in was named Amadou Ba. I saw this as a positive sign as one of my favorite students of all time is also named Amadoi Bah. Bah with an H.  I thought that was pretty cool and so did the boys since they knew most of my students well, especially Amadou who is a mentor to them.  

After about 30 minutes of checking in we were seated on the plane and Zane fell fast asleep.  Our new friend Deke was also in our flight.  The ride home was a great moment to reflect on yet another amazing adventure, so many things were wonderful.  It's always nice visiting a great city, eating great food, meeting kind people, finding another small piece of the puzzle known as humanity. 

After all my deep reflection and feminine emotional junk I started watching movies to relax.  For the life of me I don't know why I decided to watch "12 years a slave" after just seeing the homeland that tens of millions were stolen from.  My students often fussed at me for never having seeing this movie that I would later find haunting me.  
The Trans- Atlantic slave trade was, is, definitely one of the world's greatest atrocities.  To have witnessed it's "set up" (for lack of a better word), from both sides of the ocean from one of its places of orgin to many of its final destination in the diaspora is truly humbling and an honor to experience with the level of freedom and privilege that these same ancestors have gifted me through their unimaginable pain and suffering.  Each time I think of our time in senegal I remember the beautiful people who seemed to glide on air, gorgeous beaches, the safety of a peaceful community, the sweltering heat of Africa. I remember delicious food and the rythmn of the Kess Kess, glowing black skin, smiles, heads held high, detailed architecture, crazy taxi drivers, and so much more.  These memories will always stay with me.  Always.  And each time I reflect on these memories I will also hear the words of Maya Angelou "we are the dreams and the hopes of the slaves."  

Just as they have passed their blood and DNA to me over the generations I also carry their dreams and their hopes, I felt them with us on this journey.  Because they were, we are... And I am forever thankful for their sacrifice.  It was lovely to bring them all home.  We look forward to visit Dakar again. 

11 October 2015

Pink lake and chill

We woke up bright and early to get ready for our outing to the Pink Lake with Albert.  We all showered, got dressed, I made breakfast, and waited.  And waited, and waited.  But Albert never showed up.  I decided to give him until noon then I would go on with plan A and get to the pink lake by taxi.  

Picture of our buildings tiled exterior.  Beautiful! 

By 12:30 we had cabin fever and figured it was in our bestbjnterrstbtonget out and find that doggone pink lake.  With the help of Francois and a friend we found a taxi willing to travel the distance for $15,000 Senegalese dollars ($30USD).  He trip took us into in of Senegal's main highways and I was utterly shocked at how well paced and beautiful with highways was!!! Definitely smoother than any highway in atlnag and so smooth it rivals Germany's autobahn!! The constructions game is no joke in Senegal.  Here are a few pix of the beautiful toll booth we passed through and the view during our drive.

Moment gas stations

The drive was about 40 minutes! As soon as we pulled in I reassured our driver that we would only be 5-10 minutes we only wanted to see the pink lake and take a few pictures.  Unfortunately the lake wasn't very pink.  The locals explained the due to the sun something or other that then microorganisms in the pink could do something or other.  We could still see a slight pink color in the water.  Snapper our pictures and bounced! 

The top pick is when the lake is super pink during its peak season, the bottom picnics what we saw.

Taxi ride home

Once we got home at about 3:30, we got under the fan and relaxed until dinner time.  We decided to walk a couple of blocks to a nearby restaurant.

There were so many signs that we were where we were supposed to be our building also had a medical office in the ground floor that preformed "Echographies". Not to mention my name being all over the apartment in random places. 

Silly pix while waiting to be served.  We wanted to eat outside but there were ton many flies so we decided to take the food home.  I would have loved watching the joggers go by, people stopping in the street to pray and ladies window shopping at the nearby boutique.  But fighting off the flies would ruin that experience so home bound we went.  

Dude ordered pizza

I ordered chicken and fries. Zane ordered steak and  fries.  It all came with half a baguette and a yummy salad 

After dinner we played dominos and I declare war.  We listened to he local radio and enjoyed each other's company.  For us travel is not just seeing the world hug also spending time with our favorite people.... Each other. 

09 October 2015

L'île Gorée in pix and vids pt 3

L'île Gorée in pix and vids pt2

L'île Gorée in pix and video pt1

Beautiful scenery as the boat docks

Former slave prison now a residential home for French people 

Our tour guide abdullahi

The liberty from slavery statue

L'île Gorée (boat ride)

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. 

The bank vs the heat

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.