It has been a busy few days since I last posted. We have been on a busy tour of Dakar, visited Goree Island, and had several very nice lectures.
Our bus tour took us into downtown Dakar for the first time. It is much different than the neighborhood where we are currently staying. It looks almost like a neighborhood in Paris. While we were there, we got to see the president's house and learned that there is a small flag flying under the Senegalese flag if the president is there. We also visited the statue of the Renaissance which is a man, woman, and child. It is huge and on top of a tall hill, so we had to climb a lot of stairs to get to the top. It is a beautiful monument, but the sad thing is that it was so expensive and the money paid for the statue was paid to North Korea, who actually made it. The Senegalese people didn't benefit from the construction at all.
Yesterday we went to Goree Island which is off the tip of Dakar. It took us twenty minutes by ferry. The island reminded me of Nice. The houses have the same colonial architecture and the colors are very vibrant. While there, we toured La Maison des Escalves where slaves were housed and sold. Standing in the tiny rooms where people were crammed and looking out the door of no return was heart breaking. The people who ran the slave business lived directly upstairs and you could see light coming through the floorboards. How could people live with all the inhumanity that was being perpetrated just below their feet? Afterward, we visited a museum about Senegalese women and let me tell you, these women can and have done everything for their families. Then we visited a sand painting studio for a demonstration and bought some art.
Yesterday, we got to learn some Wolof! Naga def? I'm still learning and practicing, but I know enough to say hello and ask how you are doing. Our teacher was Sidy (pronounced CD) and he was a really dynamic awesome teacher. He reminded me how important repetition is in language learning.
Then we got to meet a world famous Senegalese rapper who gave us his perspective on rap music. The message is the most important thing and then the music. He also gave us his views of the problems with the government and it makes sense after being here for a few days and seeing how things are.
The most awesome thing so far - and I know it's not that great, but it makes me feel like a little kid again - are the baobab trees. They are so beautiful. And guess what? I got to drink the juice from the baobab fruit. It tastes a lot like figs and dates.
We are going to two markets tomorrow, so I'll let you know how that goes.