Impacts and Perfection

By Jordan Bayliss

Today was perfect. I had done my research on Hakuna Lodge and did a lot looking at Google Maps of the Sine Saloum before we left for Senegal. The day was perfect because I gained a better understanding of the complexity of Senegal’s mangrove delta than I could have by simply researching on Google.

My fishing experience with Bryan was more like a trek to me than it was a walk to get to an epic fishing spot. We set off through the mangroves on an ebb tide, each footstep parted thousands of scurrying fiddler crabs to retreat into their delta caves. Even though I had looked at the maps of the river and mangroves around the Hakuna Lodge, before the trip, I lost myself along the shallow, salty flats searching for fish. We ventured out into clear, waste deep water and cast into schools of bait fish that at times seemed to surround us. We followed the edge back into the mangroves, where we crossed a small, rickety bridge over a small cut, that swayed with every step, and eventually swayed no more. At each fishy spot I helped Bryan learn to cast a fly rod, and once he got the hang of it, I wandered off on my own. This is when I noticed the underwater grasses stuck to my fly. They were completely different from any of the grasses that I have researched on the other side of the Atlantic. Eventually, we came across a small, seasonal camp that left us with many questions about how people interact with the environment here. Although the Sine Saloum felt untouched, it is home to many people and the resource has been impacted by fishing and tourism.

While you might think that the word “impact” has a negative connotation, at the Hakuna Lodge, it does not. Hakuna Lodge was the most sustainable place I’ve been in my life. They improve upon their economy through tourism without harming the natural resources. During our short time at Hakuna, I noticed that the low impact lifestyle makes the sustainable, eco-lodge model a natural fit. There is very little waste produced at the lodge; the meals are prepared with local fish and vegetables; the bread is baked on the premises and the common spaces are open air structures that allow the breeze to be natural AC. The feeling of sustainability at the eco-lodge was similar to the vibe of our host, Bandia’s house, which was open, airy and welcoming.

The perfect day ended as the sunset over the mangroves, and we cruised back up the Saloum River to the dock where this day’s journey began. On the boat ride back, more things kept adding to the perfection of the day. I had the opportunity to drive the boat to the fishing spot, and fish on the way back to the dock. Throughout the day I kept thinking about how the US could become more sustainable, and how I could transfer the lessons learned from the eco-lodge in the Sine Saloum to my own ideas and impact on my community.

8 thoughts on “Impacts and Perfection

  1. Mom said to tell you the earth needs warriors. Wonderful insights and tight lines my son. Bryan, watch out for Jordan’s backcast! My many hours spent fly fishing with him are the joy of my life.

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  2. Jordan – it’s really cool to think about all the different things we need to fully understand a place, or what it even means to do that. Researching and reading is definitely just one small piece. Making observations is another. Would you have been able to notice the differences between the underwater grasses in the Sine Saloum vs here in the bay if you hadn’t spent the entire week before you left sorting through your samples in Mr. Carey’s classroom? What if you’d just read about them both, but never felt either of them in your hands? Also, how does all of this connect to the “Learning to See” essay that you and Cameron read for Honors Bio with Mr. Carey at the beginning of this year? Lots to think about! Stay curious and keep looking for the details – and have fun in the land of tiger fish where you are now.

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  3. Jordan – it’s really cool to think about all the different things we need to fully understand a place, or what it even means to do that. Researching and reading is definitely just one small piece. Making observations is another. Would you have been able to notice the differences between the underwater grasses in the Sine Saloum vs here in the bay if you hadn’t spent the entire week before you left sorting through your samples in Mr. Carey’s classroom? What if you’d just read about them both, but never felt either of them in your hands? Also, how does all of this connect to the “Learning to See” essay that you and Cameron read for Honors Bio with Mr. Carey at the beginning of this year? Lots to think about! Stay curious and keep looking for the details – and have fun in the land of tiger fish where you are now.

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  4. Jordan,

    You have been talking to me about underwater grasses since I met you, and I am not at all surprised that this was one of the standout things you noticed while fishing in Senegal! I love how these experiences help deepen connections in thought, knowledge, and experience through observation and interaction.

    I love how Sine Saloum made you think about sustainability, and that this experience is filling your mind with ideas you foresee infusing into your current and future work. I believe these global experiences pay dividends in years to come, and for you especially, I am really excited to see how the insight gained from these experiences will help shape the impact you will undoubtably leave on others.

    Look forward to catching-up to learn more about your experience when you get back to campus, but for now, enjoy the adventure!

    Meghan

    P.S. I agree with Ms. Cola, you are a Fiddler crab

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  5. Jordan,
    Thanks for your cool description of that adventure and the thoughts that it conjured up from previous experiences. Continue to play hard and think hard. The connections between adventure, independence, ecology and society can make your brain hum and, if we allow it to sink in, your heart and grow with potential opportunities to make positive impacts.
    Keep dancing in that mentality as you pursue big fish and your calling.

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  6. Hi Jordan,
    i agree with everyone else in the comments that your post shares deep reflection, imparts a lifetime of experiences spent building up to these moments (flyfishing with your Dad, discovering and studying the grasses, studying in Mr. Carey’s class, research, learning the art of observation), and extends profound hope for the future. But what I I especially enjoy is the sheer simplicity and beauty of your words and descriptions. I am able to picture in my mind’s eye everything you describe … the trek with Bryan; the epic fishing spot; the schools of fish surrounding you; scurrying fiddler crabs; the salty, shallow flats; sunset over the mangroves … thank you for so beautifully capturing and sharing your experience with us! Your words are as beautiful as any photograph or video, and they make me smile, all the way across the Atlantic!

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