Asalaa Maalekum, everyone! Hope your weekend was as great as mine! ‘Sama weekend bi ci St. Louis’ means what you probably guessed it means – My weekend in St. Louis. Last Friday, my program in Dakar took all the students up to St. Louis and Lompoul for a three-day field trip. St. Louis is 264 kilometers north of Dakar, near the border of Mauritania.
On Friday we piled into buses early in the morning to drive the four hours straight to St. Louis. We were on the trip with our professor who teaches a class about Environment and Development. This photo above was taken at a fishing village on the coast of St. Louis. We learned about how with global warming increasing the sea level one meter closer to shore each year, this village is predicted to be flooded in only twenty years. What do you think the effects of global warming will be like in Portland?
For another part of our Environment class, we visited this dam that separates fresh and salt water in St. Louis. With short walk north past the dam, we reached the border of Mauritania! The Mauritanian border guards all spoke in Arabic and were very kind to let us take this cheesy photo. Northern African, in general, is regarded very differently than West Africa, where Senegal is. For starters, the majority of people in West Africa are Black. The majority of people in Northern Africa are lighter-skinned, Arab peoples. However, like Senegal, there are a few North African countries that also speak French as well as their local languages. Why do you think so many countries, so far from France, speak French? If you looked at a map of Africa, could you point out which countries were in Northern Africa, West Africa, East Africa, and Southern Africa?
From St. Louis we took a day trip up to the National Bird Sanctuary of Djoudj. We saw pelicans, wild boars, and of course the usual donkeys. Many of the birds were already gone, as we’re headed into the off-season for the park (I was so sad to miss the flamingos!).
Saturday night, we headed to Lompoul, a small desert in the middle of Senegal. Lompoul is not technically a part of the Sahara desert – in fact, that the Lompoul desert exists at all is a bit of an anomaly. Senegal is part of the Sahel region, which is the region of land south of the Sahara that mostly consists of grasslands.
We arrived in Lompoul a little before dusk, and the lot of us started off sprinting towards the dunes. The sand was soft and cool between our toes, and the steady silence of the desert was delightfully refreshing after months of the noisy, crowded streets of Dakar. I would have spent a week in that silence, doing nothing but reading and napping and playing in the dunes.
If I had the chance, I would have loved to travel south to the Casamance region of Senegal. Down there is full of lush greenery, I’ve heard, and a stark difference from the desert/grasslands areas of northern and central Senegal and the dusty, beach-lined coast of Dakar. I was able to travel all the way to south east Senegal, which is famous for having a gorgeous waterfall and steep hillsides. It’s amazing how varied the landscape of Senegal is depending on which area you go to. Do you associate Africa more with the desert, grasslands, jungle, or something else entirely?
I know you all have a few posts to catch up on, so I’ll keep this one short and sweet.
Ba ci kanam, insh’allah!