By Colette Haynie
We spent most of the day today on the road. We had to get up in a timely fashion and leave the lodge by boat before 9am. On the mainland, two vehicles waited to transport us across Senegal. Mr. Alter drove the majority of the group in a van and I road with Ms. Brumfield and two other students in a smaller truck.
The ride in the truck was very calm because there were so few people in the vehicle, and I was able to focus on the view outside. The drive altogether was 7 hours. We passed through many busy towns and cities and traffic unlike I have ever seen before. There were people, animals, and markets everywhere. Something was always happening.
We stopped at a market about 45 kilometers from the village of Niognani to buy supplies for dinner and provisions for our stay. there was everything from chickens to clothes to fruit being sold in this small market. We also stopped to grab some grilled meat and onions at a shop close to our final destination. While we ate, we were surrounded by kids who gave us high-fives and danced with us.
When we arrived at the village, we were swarmed by even more children. They attempted to communicate with us, but most of us know very little Mandinka and the kids know almost no French before they’re in middle school. The language barrier did not stop us from making strong relationships, though.
The kids played with us until we were sweating and breathing heavily as they still ran around. The kids taught us games and songs and were so comfortable being around us. They welcomed us with open arms to their home. They made me feel more welcome than I have ever felt in a place that’s not my home.
I look forward to spending more time with the kind, energetic people in this community and getting to know them better.