Senegal (6) - Joal - Fadiouth

After the cruise on the Senegal River, a bus drive back to Saint Louis…

… and the following day a long car drive down to Joal.

Joal is a little coast town on the mainland…

…  and is connected with a footbridge to the little island Fadiouth. No cars here, everything is calm, clean. The island is more or less artificial, completely built up by sea shells which crack under your feet. There is a Christian domination, but as usual in Senegal, Muslims and Christians live peacefully together…  as well as the goats and the pigs. Assisting to a mass at the local church with the wonderful, powerful, singing (so different from what you may hear in a French church) was a real pleasure!  Another proof of the nice co-habitation is the combined Christian and Muslim cemetery on a separate little island. From the cemetery you can admire some millet granaries.

Back on the mainland there is a calm nice beach…

… but when you follow it northwards, you realize that Joal is a leading fishing centre. You will find hundreds of pirogues, fishermen, goats and pigs … and, as usual, smiling kids who want to be photographed. Some pirogues carry people along the coast. The horse carriages are also used to allow embarking with more less dry feet. 

The two young girls were carrying fish on the way home. They didn’t even look on the young men doing their wrestling training.  


Senegal (5) - Cruising on the Senegal River

This will be my longest post about my trip to Senegal. I could have split it in several, but, considering the name of my blog, I believe I must soon return to talking a bit about Paris.

I had the pleasure to make a six days cruise on an old ship, “Bou el Mogdad”, cruising up the Senegal River, which actually serves as border between Senegal and Mauritania. The ship dates from around 1950 and served for decades as more or less only means of transport along the river, reaching as far as Mali. After a long interruption, it came back to the Senegal River in 2005 and serves now as a cruising ship. The cruise will bring you some 200 km (125 miles) up the river and goes slowly with no night navigation and with several stops and visits of natural reserves, towns, villages…  “Bou el Mogdad” has a nice patina of past times, is very well kept, has a very nice personnel, offers good eating and drinking… and nice company.

After a short navigation, the vessel reaches a barrage, Diama, and a lock, built to prevent salt water to penetrate the river.

The river is very wide in its lower parts.

As said, the about 50 passengers are frequently given the possibility to visit sites of interest along the river.  

The first stop was for the Djoudj Bird Sanctuary, a world heritage site, with some 400 bird species, dominated by pelicans (several thousands, bringing up their newborn), flamingos (too far away to be seen – low waters), cormorants… and also warthogs, alligators…

At Rosso, we could see the car ferry which assures the border passing between Mauritania and Senegal.

We reached the town of Richard Toll - Richard’s Garden in the local wolof language. JMC Richard was a botanist, who here made experiments with introduction of different vegetal species. We visited the ruins of an old little castle, originally built by a French governor, J-F Roger, later inhabited by the most famous governor, Louis Faidherbe, and then transformed to a monastery, a school… . It was guarded by a charming lady. We also visited a sugar factory and the surrounding sugarcane fields. Our wonderful cruising guide, Ansou, made us taste some sugarcanes.  

A later stop was for the little town Dagana, with a visit to a local school. What a pleasure to meet all the school children, all so enthusiastic in spite of tough conditions  – and all wishing to be photographed. Some of us left pencils and other material. When we left, most of the kids were on the quay greeting us farewell.
(Address: M. Alioune Mbodj, directeur d'école, Amadou Basse Sall, Dagana, Senegal - amadoubassesall@yahoo.fr)

We also made a rather long, very nice, walk through a beautiful landscape to reach a fula (peul) nomadic village with its primitive cottages, however quite cool inside and better equipped than what you first would have guessed. Smiling, wonderful people… again!

In another close-by village, I was spontaneously guided by this little girl, who showed her very rudimentary school “building” and followed me for a complete village tour. Once again, smiling people all over! We had a meal on the river banks in the evening and they all joined up, singing and dancing.
(M. Idrissa Diedhiou, Instituteur, Deguemléré, Poder, Senegal)

The final destination, before a return along the roads to Saint Louis, was the town of Podor, a previously major settlement with important port installations for trade of ivory, Arabic gum, slaves … Some of the port buildings have been nicely restored, as well as the Podor fortress . A walk around the town offered the sight of some interesting shops - a butcher’s shop, a telephone shop, a library (“Au Quartier Latin”). ..

Finally, I wish to show you shots of the banks, taken along the cruise – marshland in the beginning, then becoming drier, Sahel… Some photos, on the portside, show Mauritania, others on the starboard, Senegal. Beautiful landscapes, smiling, active people, fishing pirogues… 

 … and I must add a picture of one of the charming young ladies you find all over the country, selling necklaces, bracelets … in a very (smiling) convincing way. I brought a heavy load back.