If you love pictures, then you’re going to enjoy this post. I’m going to break it down into three parts so that the pictures make sense and to keep all of the events organized.
Île de Gorée
The last excursion as a group during orientation week was to Île de Gorée (Goree Island). It is an island where one can view the slave ports and “The Door of No Return”, buy souvenirs from a small market, and visit the beach. I will start off by saying that the island is very beautiful. There are blue waters, bright colors line the streets, and there is usually a nice breeze in the air.
At the slave ports or rather, La Maison des Esclaves, we heard an oral history of the place from a conservator. He told us in French but I can’t remember everything he said. However, I’m sure the name of the place can give you an idea of its history. It was a final place where slaves were kept before leaving on ships. It’s a bit difficult to imagine that people were actually in the holding cells because they’re small. As bright and colorful as the port is, its purpose is dark and it will continue to hold a dark place in history.
After viewing La Maison des Esclaves, we visited another small museum and then went to the beach for lunch. Eventually, I went to the market to look around and was not ready for the experience that would follow. The women are a bit aggressive and they all want you to visit their shop. At one point, I told one woman that I didn’t want to buy anything and she asked me, “Do you hate me? So, if you plan on visiting Goree Island and buying anything, come mentally prepared to deal with the market women.
Centre-ville de Dakar
We also had a chance to visit downtown Dakar. It’s quite busy and packed but there are a lot of stores and street vendors selling all kinds of items. You can buy shoes, clothes, shea butter, toys, hair products, and much more.
During our tour, I was able to see the president’s house, chamber of commerce, and a few other important places but I couldn’t take many pictures. There were lots of guards in uniforms and at one point I received a warning from a guard for trying to take a picture of the president’s house.
La première semaine de cours (First week of classes)/ Homestay
I started classes this Monday and so far I’ve been enjoying them. I am taking three of my classes in French, one class in English, and a class to learn Wolof. Wolof is a dominant local language and most people that I’ve encountered can at least speak French and Wolof. As a linguistics major, learning Wolof is interesting because the structure of the language is different from English and there are even some some sounds that don’t exist in English. As time progresses, I hope to have a firm grasp on the basics of Wolof.
During this week, I’ve also gotten to know my host family a bit more. I’m happy to have my family because they’re wonderful, funny, and interesting people. I’m looking forward to getting to know them more as the semester progresses.
To give you all an idea of where I am staying, here are some pictures of my street from my balcony. The last picture is of the entrance foyer. The house is beautiful and much larger than my home in the U.S. There are at least five bedrooms, two bathrooms, and a balcony.
In the upcoming week I’ll be heading to a soccer game, preparing for tabaski (will explain later), and hopefully securing a cool intern opportunity (will explain futher also).
Ba beneen yoon! (“next time” in Wolof)