Thursday, July 3
Saint-Louis, Senegal

Guet N’dar gets only a brief mention in my Lonely Planet West Africa guide, but it made for my favorite morning so far.

It’s a fishing village that’s part of Saint-Louis, where boys build pirogues and untangle nets and women sell both fresh and dried fish. The market there was impressive, quite busy, fish in every direction. Fallou and I went deep into the dried fish area, where he purchased several bags to bring back to Dakar because of the cheap price.

I like fish, but the scene and smell grossed me out. There were flies everywhere, on every possible piece of fish. Fallou picked a bunch drying in the sun, and I thought to myself, I’ve probably eaten that rotten-smelling fish already and not even known it.

The pirogues, dozens of them pulled up onto the shore, made for a beautiful sight. They’re all painted in vibrant colors, much like the bright, multi-colored cloth both men and women wear here. Some had the Senegalese flag flying at the front of the boat.

Just being a part of this bustling fishing town was awesome. But now that I’m home, I can still smell the fish on me, even though I’ve already showered! Both Fallou and I shower two or three times each day here because it’s so hot and sticky. It’s a bit cooler than Dakar, with a nice sea breeze, but sand gets all over everything, including me. So the best remedy is to shower in the morning, afternoon and at night.

The people here have been truly friendly, often going out of their way to help me (Sure, sometimes they want to be paid, but often it’s out of goodwill). The owner of the Internet cafe I used yesterday, for example, walked me to the bank when I asked where it was and then waited for me while I used the ATM. He called himself “my guard.”

Children in the street say hi to me and reach out to shake my hand. Some giggle when I comply and speak to them, then run off to their friends. The littlest follow alongside me briefly, repeating, “Bonjour, bonjour.”

It’s been great having Fallou as an intermediary between myself and Senegalese culture, but I’m eager to be on my own. Tomorrow he’ll return to Dakar and I’ll head to Zebrabar.