A Horse Attack, A Burglary, and Surfing!

December 19, 2019

by apaparis

Claire, our program director, arrived to Senegal on Thursday, and at night we went to a very bougie hotel to get some drinks and catch up. We had a great view of the ocean, and it happened to be where they shot some scenes of the movie Atlantique (would highly recommend). The movie is set in Senegal and touches on the subject of immigration. 

Speaking of immigration…We normally don’t have class on Friday, but after some schedule adjustments we ended up having a field trip with our emigration professor toThiaroye. It was one of the best field trips I’ve had on this program, because we were able to talk to the locals and get their point of views on topics that were covered in class. We asked them why people in town wanted to migrate and their answers really cemented the notion that migration is seen as a strategy for coping with economic hardships. It was really valuable to have the opportunity to hear first-hand accounts of migration attempts especially since the United States is dealing with similar issues. The debates on immigration have been intensified around the globe, making many forget that human migration is an unstoppable force powered by people that deserve empathy. Midway through our conversation, one of the elders bought all us oranges, which I thought was very sweet, and a gesture of the famous Senegalise Teranga (hospitality). As we continued on our small tour of the town, we had the chance to visit one of the first schools in the region that was constructed during the colonial era. The town also happens to be where our professor grew up, so he invited us to lunch at his mom’s house and we shared a plate of thiebou djeun with fresh fish. For dessert we each got our own plate of watermelon. We stayed a while after lunch, enjoying the lazy Friday afternoon. 

Our weekend plans were something to look forward to, we were going to be spending two days in Simal. On Saturday morning, we met up at the ISM administrative building at 8am to go to Simal. On the way there, we stopped by Joal and visited Léopold Sédar Senghor’s childhood home. We also saw a sacred Baobab tree where griots used to be buried. But before the tree we took a quick tour of Fadiouth, where they have one of the few mixed cemeteries in Senegal, where Christians and Muslims are buried together. A major theme repeated throughout our trip in Senegal is that peace and tolerance are highly valued and respected. There has never been a coup d’etat in the country, and everyone brings up the fact that the first president Leopold Senghor was a Catholic who was in power for 20 years in a majority muslim country. While we were walking back from the cemetery, we came into contact with all sorts of animals: there were pigs wandering about, as well as dogs, chickens, and horses. We had to walk past a row of houses to get back to the van and there was a horse standing very close by. Apparently he jabbed Anna in the arm, and when I walked by he bit me in the ribs. I was extremely shocked, but it was also a funny and bizarre experience looking back, especially since Ailis had managed to capture the interaction on camera. 

Once we arrived at the ecolodge at Simal (aka paradise) we took a boat ride around the mangroves and had some time to relax before dinner. On Sunday, we went fishing and everyone caught at least one fish! I always love fishing at Simal because it is the only place I ever manage to catch fish. Every other time I have fished in my life I have been wildly successful. This time I caught 6 fish, and was really proud of myself. In the afternoon, some of us got massages, some of us took a dip in the pool, and some of us just napped in the sun. It was a great getaway from the city, and I felt so far away from the stress of finals. None of us wanted to leave, but we had classes on Monday so there was no choice. We arrived back in Dakar at night, and headed back to our host families. We got a text a few minutes later from [someone], who informed us that someone had broken into her room and had stolen her laptop and DS. We were all shocked and felt very sorry for her, because her phone had been stolen on the tram to school in Rabat. The next day she went to the police station with APA, and filed an official report. Hopefully nothing bad happens to any of us in the last two weeks! 

On Monday a few of us went to the American Food Store, which was heaven. I needed to go there because I promised my host family that I would make them pancaked, but could not find pancake mix at Carrefour or Auchan. I could’ve made it from scratch I know…but I’m too lazy of a person and too bad of a chef to take that culinary risk. I have to be honest, I went kind of crazy at the American food store. They had cinnamon toast crunch!!! And takis !! and all the other unhealthy snacks that I stuff myself with at school. I decided to buy a handful of the most iconic snacks and candy so that my host sisters could try them out (update: they thought most of it was really bizarre). On Wednesday I did not have any classes, and had the whole day free, so I went surfing with Ailis at Ngor. It was my first time and it was definitely more exercise than I had anticipated. Simply getting hit by the waves felt like a full-body workout, and I am still sore, 2 days after the fact (this is me exposing how much I do not work out). 

Those are all the highlights of the week…see you next time!

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