The Endless Roadtrip

Touba Travel Blog

 › entry 21 of 37 › view all entries

NOTE: The map to the left charting my journey has got it so wrong. Touba is not in the Casamance. It's to the west of Dakar, approximately at about Diourbel. Look it up on Google Earth if you really want to know.

I hate people sometimes. Nothing personal. I just get pissed if people are late. Like an hour late. I get up at 6:30 in the morning for no reason. We are supposed to meet at 8:00 for our day trip to the city of Touba. A third of the group walk into SIT at 9:15. I could have slept another hour. Great.

We drive for about 2 hours and stop halfway in the town of Bambey at, you guessed it, the University of Bambey. The Vice Chancellor emerges, dressed in the nicest suit I've seen, and in perfect English welcomes us. He apparently studied in Indinana and did work at Fordham Univeristy. It's very interesting to see how Western he acts. He gave us a two-hour lecture on Sufism to prepare us on our visit to Touba - a large center for this brotherhood of Islam.

After the lecture at the university, we were starving. We all begged Karim and Papis (the two young guys who are like Souleye's personal assistants) to let us eat on the bus to save time. But they would hear none of it. Instead, they said they would look for a large tree for us to sit under and enjoy lunch.

The bus suddenly pulls over. There are no large trees in sight. Just goats and lots of droppings on the ground. Okay? Karim and Papis pull out the mats and squeeze them in a patch of scattered shade from a dying tree without foilage. One of the girls steps on a prickly thorn and starts bleeding massively. We all wonder when it will hit our guides that this is not ideal.

After a horrible lunch of floppy sandwiches and hot sodas, we load on the bus. Chris has a great idea to try to make fun of a sucky situation. He plays bookie, we all create a pool of 100 CFA each, and bet on what time we will arrive back at SIT. Now, it's 3:00. We were told we were to return at 6:00. Most of us estimate getting home around 9 or 10 in the evening.

At Touba, we go straight to the mosque. Before we are allowed to get off, however, the girls are told to cover their heads and make sure that they are wearing skirts - no pants allowed on females. If we don't have a scarf or skirt, there are 'loaner' pieces of clothing provided for by the mosque. Various patterned silks for the head and cheap wrap-around skirts with holes in the hem.

Once everybody is appropriately dressed, all of us remove our shoes and head into the long tile path to the mosque. A guide tells of the goregous Italian and Portuguese marble used on the floors (to prevent people from burning thier feet and legs when gathering to pray outside in the sun), as well as of the incredible architecture. I don't think I am talented enough to adequately describe it in words, so I'll show you all pictures when I get home.

Group picture time. Boys and girls can't take pictures together. So there are two group shots. We head back on the bus, where we can finally rip of our sweaty skirts and head coverings. Next, we get the honor of having cafĂ© touba at the grand marabou's home. We enter a large courtyard and are told by the multiple women and children to sit on a bunch of mats in the shade. It's was actually quite relaxing if it wasn't for the sea of flies buzzing around our faces. Karim shows us a picture of the marabou, saying he's in Italy for religious business. After coffee (which was deadly sweet), we are served soda - a local brand. I finally get to try some "Africa Cola." Yum. It's not that bad.

While drinking coffee and soda, a hoard of children gather at the courtyard gate to see all the toubas who have come to visit the marabou's house. Some of the young boys of the house chase them out with a broom and shut the gate. It's actually kind of sad. Another woman (I think a family friend) is allowed to stay and sell us jars of incense. Amanda gets one and passes it around so we can smell its strong aroma.

We thank our hosts and finally head out of Touba to go to Dakar. A nice, long bus ride without interruption. But on the way out of town, we see that a horse with a cart on it's back has collapsed, struggling to get its hind legs off the ground with the weight of his load on top of him. People gather around to help lift it up, but it doesn't seem like much is helping. Ken whips out his video camera for some "spot news" while the girls scream at the bus driver to just move on so we don't have to watch it.

The whole bus ride home, I am sickly nervous of what I am going to do for my practicum. I try to brainstorm ideas and courses of action, but nothing seems to materialize in my head.

By the way, we arrive home at 11:30 in the evening. David, with the winning time, was at 10:05.

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