Senegal is an incredibly diverse country. We have been lucky enough to spend time in the southeastern corner, where Niognani was our home; in the Sine Saloum, where Hakuna was our soft landing pad; and in Dakar, where the frenetic energy and congested streets reminded us of Senegal’s churning economy and powerful future. Now, on our final day, we are on La Petite Cote (The Little Coast). This is a fascinating mixture of people and ways of life – traditional fishermen toiling on the rolling Atlantic in tiny pirogues, tourists and weekenders descending on picturesque beaches, artists seeking to channel their inner griot.
We’re staying at Sobo Bade, an artists’ retreat perched on cliffs overlooking the ocean. It’s a beautiful, unique place. Each room is different and made entirely of local materials. Each railing, table, and detail is part of a work of art. In many ways, this place is helping us make sense of everything we’ve done. We plan to visit a private game reserve today, to have our final discussions, to eat our final Senegalese meals (until we get home and go to the regional Senegalese restaurant), and to spend our last hours with Kekouta. We will do our best to share the experience with all of you!
Here’s a bit more on La Petite Cote:
The Petite Cote is home to some of the most popular beaches in Senegal. It is the coastal region of the country that stretches 70km south of Dakar between Rufisque and Joal-Fadiot. It fades into the Sine Saloum on the southern periphery; beaches give way to mangrove swamps. Mbour is the region’s bustling center – a place of trade and exchange since colonial times.
We are staying in one of the area’s many fishing villages, Toubab Dialao. This is an artsy little haven of a fishing town, complete with a beautiful mosque and rocky, sandy beaches. Traditional fishermen still live here and it’s easy to have a delicious meal on the beach, complete with a fresh catch of the day.
This is one of the area’s of Senegal where Catholicism has taken route. The Our Lady of Deliverance Basilica is here – home to the famous Black Madonna that attracts pilgrims from all over the world. Christians and Muslims live side by side here, with intermarriage common and many families made up of members from various faith backgrounds. Like Senegal, this is a place of acceptance and peace.
The Reserve de Bandia is also here. This is Senegal’s most famous private game reserve. We’re going to visit later today to see giraffes, rhinos, zebras, and other exotic game.
This is also a land of baobab trees. This tree, known as the tree of life, provides food, water, clothing and shelter to people in the region. This mythology of the tree is varied and old but the tree continues to hold an important place in local culture. These are the longest-living trees in the world!