The Second week of our travel was interesting. We met so many new people that it is very difficult to keep the track of their names (also of course cause the names are weird to us - I never met someone named Mokdad, Papi or Amadou before). One of our new friends is a tailor who works in the same street with us and we asked him to create a surf bag for us, of course with the incredible Senegalese Wax Print fabrics. The bag came out perfect and we will definitely order few more to bring back to Finland with us!
Last Saturday we participate on an excursion to The Djouj National Bird Santuary. We packed into a full mini buss with all the other curious tourists and started to drive north west. After about 2 hours of drive we arrived to the river where we hopped on a boat. It was refreshing to be in nature and see some wildlife around us - with some I mean thousands of huge Pelicans! This half a day excursion costed 23 000 XOF/per person which is around 35€ so it was a bit pricy for our budget but like we have noticed already - Senegal is not a cheap country.
If you eat a senegalese plate (Thiebu djen - fish and veggies with tomato rice or Maffé - Meat in a peanut sauce 1500XOF/2,30€) everyday in a local restaurant you can live with little but then one day you have craving for pizza and that is gonna cost you money. Also the fruits are almost the same price than in Finland, Bananas 800XOF/1,22€/kg - the taste is just so much more juicy here! Then if you don’t want to drink tap water (even it is drinkable) you will spend some coins for water bottles 400-1000XOF/0,60-1,50€/1,5l of beer around 1500XOF/2,30€/bottle. We bought a filter bottle so we don’t have to waste so much money or plastic while we travel. We have been thinking to cook at our guesthouse Chez Marie but since the ingredients aren’t any cheaper than the cheapest meal in a restaurant we didn’t bother to do it yet. I don’t remember when I was eating in a restaurant twice a day in such a long row! It is nice but some how also tiring ‘cause cooking is also like a meditation practice for me after a busy day.
People here are gentle and many of them very interested of us. Sometimes you just can’t tell if they are trying to sell you something or just being friendly. I got already a bit pissed to these street sellers who are trying to force you to buy a pair of hippie pants or a bracelet made in China. There is also these Talibé kids who came to Saint-Louis from the country to study Koran so the locals are feeding them and giving them some coins to survive. Of course they are following the rich western tourist for a jackpot but we have to remember that the community takes care of them - I’m not here to save anyone. Many kids also shout to us in the streets “TOUBAB!” (whites) and some of them run closer with their hands outstretched “Donne moi de l’argent!” (give me money). I’m a bit confused of this greeting but since it’s just impossible for us to merge into the mass I will just smile and reply: “Bonjour! No Je n’ai pas l’argent”.
Another thing that is not easy here is photographing. People doesn’t like being shot or they want money if you take a portrait. So even taking photos of street view can be difficult ‘cause there is people everywhere and some of them really clear about their dislike towards tourist photography. We even got an angry answer from a lady who’s pelican and goats we were shooting in the street. The first days wasn’t easy since the surroundings and people are so interesting and photogenic so you want to capture everything you see around.
Now finally few words of our project. Like we knew already there isn’t such a good surf here in Saint-Louis. The ocean is very rough and stormy and the sandy beach flat and super current. The conditions are not very promising at all so the water activities here are fishing and freshing up in the hot summer months. Still there is one guy who wants to build water sports culture in the city. We spotted him from the new West-African surf documentary Beyond so our first mission in Saint-Louis was to find him. Our dear host Jarmo from Waaw residency made a little investigation and one of his friends recognise the guy from the photo we had borrowed from the documentary. Et Voilà, we found Max the only surfer in town! We already went for a little surf with him in Plage Idrobaz. The session was short because the sea has been very strong these days and the tide very full. Anyway we had fun and since Max is a good swimmer he didn’t have any problems with foamy waves and strong current. Oh and thank god he speaks some english otherwise we had to use too much energy inventing new words in French…
We still have one week left in Saint-Louis before the serious surfing time in Dakar! Let's see what it brings for us. Have a relaxing weekend everyone! :)