Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Where the wild things are

I've been having a certain feeling of late. It's hard to put a finger on it exactly, but it's sort of a cross between "where am I?" and "I can't believe this is my life." Exhibit A:

This is where I spent most of my long weekend, a nice little resort in Saint Louis, under a nice shady umbrella, with gin and tonics at my beck and call. It didn't take long for that feeling to wash over me, as it doesn't seem like that long ago that I was traipsing around refugee camps in Liberia, or wandering the grounds of a stately home in England. So to suddenly be sitting beside a pool, at a resort, was frankly a little bit weird.

Then again, so was the seven hour bus journey to get there:

I didn't count how many other people were in the bus, but I'd put it around 30. It was hot and sweaty and a bit smelly of course. What could've been a 3.5 hour trip (apparently) was a long, drawn out process, but on the upside, a great way of seeing the Senegalese country side. I was a bit surprised at how dry it is here, miles and miles of sandy/dirty plains, with a few baobab trees dotted among smaller bushes.

Saint Louis is a quiet little town, which was converged upon by hundreds of foreigners (and well-to-do Senegalese) on the weekend for the International Jazz Festival. I can't imagine there's much to do there normally, we spent an afternoon wandering around, marveling at the colourful buildings

and trying to avoid the touristy shops.

There were lots of interesting doors and doorways,

and you all know by now how much I adore blue doors!

The resort we stayed in was a good 10 minute drive out of town, over a bridge, and past an extremely smelly fish market, and past a big rubbish pile that was being taken care of by a mob of bearded goats. But the life along the way was so vibrant and active.

And then there was the music. We saw a few groups on the main stage, one of which had a soprano sax who was pretty damn amazing. And dotted around the town, in little restaurants and cafes, little trios or quartets would be playing - a pretty great time and place to be having a glass of wine! Later on in the evenings, or better put, the early hours of the mornings, people would spill out onto the road between 3 of the popular bars - it was a bit of a wild crowd, a bit of a meat market, and more than a bit like Schoolies Week, or Spring Break.

But before we knew it, it was time to come back to Dakar, and thankfully the return trip only took about 4 hours in a sept plus (a station wagon that has an extra bench seat put in the boot, so it can carry seven passengers plus the driver) with just three of us. Much more comfortable than the group who got the same bus back - we passed them on the road an hour and a half into our journey, they'd apparently left 2 hours before us!

So yes, a weekend in which I more than once had to pinch myself to believe that I was really there, in the north of Senegal, at a Jazz Festival. Life is surprising, and I don't think I'd want it any other way.

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