Archive | May, 2017

Return to Africa

22 May

My father is an addictions counselor, and was asked again to go give seminars in Dakar, Senegal, West Africa.  Senegal is an awesome little country, and Dakar should be on more tourist’s to do list.  I had told my father, if I were to go back I would want to go out to the villages and see more than just the city.  Mom and Dad asked my schedule, coordinated with the people who invited him and we scheduled our trip for the first week in May.  I ask my dad on the Wednesday before we leave if our host had arranged for a trip to the villages.  Of course he hadn’t, my dad never asked about it.

So off we go on our trip.  I call mom the day before we leave and tell her i’ll be staying at their house so we can leave straight to the airport.  She tells me we aren’t flying out till 5 in the afternoon.  I go double check, and we fly out at 8 a.m.  SO my mom and dad stay up till 1 am at least packing for dad and getting everything ready for the trip.  I came over at 1, so that’s how I know.  We start our journey by getting to the airport at 6 a.m.  We flew to Dallas for a 6 hour layover, followed by a 9 hour lay-over in Madrid.  So we arrived in Dakar 10 p.m. on Saturday night.

Learning my lesson from last time, I arranged to be doing other things while my dad spoke.  However this time around, the daughter who had shown me around last time was back in the USA.  So our host had a local who studies French in the morning show me around in the afternoons.  The guy brought a friend from Cabo Verde who studies French with him, and so we had a nice afternoon visiting the statue of new Africa Liberation.  Oddly enough in a country where French and Wolof are the two main languages, I got to speak in Portuguese since that is what they speak in Cabo Verde.

 

(the statue, and the view from the hat of the man)

The next day I went to surf with my new friend, well I surfed and he just hung out at the place i rented the board from.  Well, the tides in November (last time i visited was in November 2014) and May are very different.  There were so many more rocks this time, that even getting out past the wave crash area was rough.    Every step had to get my balance, not step in a spot where my foot will get trapped if a wave knocks me sideways, and not cut my foot.  Since my shoulders have roughly the same range of motion as these action figures, paddling out far enough to be out of the rocks ground me down.  I only really surfed one wave, but nothing ventured nothing gained…..or my version  lot’s of venture, nothing gained…..

 

While I was recovering from my surfing experience, I asked my friend about Senegalese wrestling.  He said he had no idea, doesn’t watch sports or TV.  I said, let’s ask the owner of this place.  The owner tells us we can find a place where the guys train on the beach, and if I wanted i could wrestle with them.  We follow his directions the next day, and can’t find the place, ask probably 10 different people.  We decide to just walk the beach.  Lots of young men are exercising, training hard but just exercising.  Finally on our way back to go wait for our taxi, we see guys training for wrestling.  I guess there are two kinds of wrestling in Senegal, one is like sumo and the other is like sumo with punches.  We go up to watch them train, my buddy asks if I can video and they try to get 10 thousand cfa for it.  (About 15 bucks(600 cfa to the dollar))  my buddy gets it down to 5,000 and we agree.  Towards the end I finally ask if I can jump in, they say sure.  I wrestled with a 17 year old.  I didn’t get any ideas of the rules, and was hesitant about grabbing the head and doing a front head lock, I grabbed it, but would let go of it because he seemed to not resist it.  Afterwards they said, yes it is illegal to grab the head.  Ashamedly the kid got the take down on me, being able to grab shorts and a downward slope of the beach are things I will have to adjust to on the next time.  I thought I would be able to come back the next day, but didn’t get to.  Gave them a Snider wrestling shirt for a souvenir.  (I was an assistant for 5 years there and got a bunch of snider gear that I never wore in public)  On my map at my house I have a world map, I already had a pin for surfing in Senegal, now I get to add a grappled pin.  I’ll upload the video if we ever get it from my friend’s tablet.

I did get to go to a village on Thursday night.  It wasn’t a trip into the jungle, or but it was a fun trip to a village that took about 4 hours to get to using buses and a horse drawn trailer.

The way to the village, and the village itself.

The statue, Me in the village, on the way to the village, and a statue of Senegalese wrestling. (laam, luta)    Unfortunately I can’t get the video of me wrestling yet.

As you can see, it’s not in the jungle, more like the wilderness.  The buildings were concrete, and they even have irrigation for their gardens.  So, not quite like a safari deep into the bush, but it was a good time.  Even got the experience of what happens when the bus you are riding breaks down. No electricity out there except solar powered lights, and a gas powered generator for the irrigation.

Overall, Dakar and Senegal is a nice place to visit.  The crime is no where near as bad as Latin America, my buddy had his tablet out at night while we waited for the taxi, which you would never do in Central America.  The people pass the money and ticket back and forth on the crowded bus, and when I couldn’t fit with my backpack, someone put my backpack up front.  My buddy was cool with it, so I just went with it.   The country is Muslim, but I didn’t see any women wearing the ninja masks.  Many wore a head covering, most wore traditional style African dresses.  Obviously a white guy is going to pay more for things than an African, but the danger of being robbed or kidnapped just isn’t anywhere near as high as Central or South America.  I definitely recommend Senegal: good waves, a great beach and always the chance to get double married.  (They allow polygamy, and the Wolof people are known for being tall and thin, tons of stunners there)