By Caleb Lewis
Senegal is an amazing place.
It can be calm, peaceful, yet dangerous in many different ways. That is what makes it unique. At daytime you hear children laughing and having fun, and at night you hear hyenas laughing, searching for food. I honestly didn’t know what to expect before coming on this trip. I questioned myself many times, asking if I would get that thrill of being near dangerous animals or if I would be able to “go all out.” If you read my blog post from last year’s India trip, then you’d know what I mean by “going all out.” Being on this trip has answered my questions, and the answer is yes. I have had many opportunities to see and hear dangerous creatures and to go all out.
When I’m in Virginia I feel cautious of my surroundings. I feel like I’m not living life to the fullest, but when I’m in another country outside my comfort zone, I feel free.
Exploring has played a big role throughout my life, starting in the woods around my house then to the Himalayan Mountains and now to the deserts and jungles of Senegal. Senegal has so many opportunities for me to take hold of, such as swimming in the bioluminescence at night to riding on donkey carts to a nearby village, to swimming in crocodile and hippo-infested waters. Senegal is truly a unique place, and I am insanely lucky to be here.
I have connected to Kecouta’s village in a way I can’t really describe. It is different from how I connect to Agora in India. I could say I connected with the people of Ngognani through soccer and being friendly, but honestly it is unknown. All I can say is that all of the people have smiles on their faces and seem like they are grateful for their lives and living conditions.
I really connected with one individual on this trip. His name is Baka, and he is Kecouta’s oldest son. Baka and I don’t speak the same language, but we still manage to understand each other. He taught me a little French, and I taught him a little English. Our friendship is one that will not be forgotten and will be carried on until the next time we see each other.
Senegal is a place I could only visit, not live in—mainly because of the heat. It stays above 90 degrees Fahrenheit during the winter and is early 120 during the summer. It is perfect for at least a couple of months I could live here for a couple years.
As this trip comes to an end, it’s made me want to take as many pictures as I possibly can so I can remember every detail of this place. But then I realized that a picture can’t describe what this place is truly like. A picture can only show what the place has. Only my mind can paint a true image of Senegal and everything it has. But I don’t think I’ll be able to put that image into words other than the cliche ones like “unique” or “amazing” or “great.” Overall, this trip has been a great experience for me and is made me see many different views of life.