The Island

Goree Travel Blog

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Goree Island was the agenda today. We began by taking our bus to the most touristy place we've been this entire trip. The ferry station was filled with "toubabs' - or white people - and massive groups of small school children going on field trips.

We were packed like sardines (I know, an overused simile. But it works well.) on the ferry as we were shuffled on the top deck to join the other tourists, locals, and inhabitants of Goree. Jay, Chris, and I got stuck talking to a lady who invited us to her shop on the island. We said we'd try in order to avoid all tensions.

As we approached, the colors of the buildings were incredible. Completely different feeling than Dakar. Goree has that wondeful Carribean/colonization feel. It felt like a European beach resort, yet once we explored the island later that day, you find the trash strewn across the beach reminding you that Senegalese people still live and work there.

We first went to the famous Slave House where we got to take pictures and hear from the curator who works there. He was very adamant about keeping alive the story of the slaves who passed through the house, comparing their situation as much greater than that of the Holocaust (in which he has a good point). In his office, he had certificates and awards from world leaders and governors of various states thanking him for his work or coming to visit them to share his passion in keeping the memory of the brutal slave trade alive.

Afterwards, we headed to the Women's Museum to learn about the life and culture of Senegalese women who represent the various regions of West Africa. Then we headed to the fort at the tip of the island that had an anthropology-based museum explaining the history of the region. (Think Fort Siloso in Sentosa.) Of course, all exhibits were in French, so most of us just enjoyed the sites by taking pictures.

We then headed to a restuarant on the beach for lunch, then had about four hours of free time to explore. Chris, Amanda, and I weaved our way among the beautiful alleys lined with French-style homes, their window-boxes overflowing with purple flowers. The paths become narrow, and as we walked by homes, we could see into the courtyards inside. It was like walking through a postcard of color-saturated colonial buildings.

We ran into the woman we first met on the ferry who tried to get me to follow her to her shop. I made up the best excuse I could ("I gotta keep up with my friends!") and escaped as fast as possible. The coolest thing we found was these stone stairs that went to nowhere. They probably the only evidence remaining from a building that was slowly eroded away by the waves. There were some cool shots of that - Amanda even had a mini-photo shoot masterfully art directed by Chris.

Finally, we met up with some of the other in the group who had found a small swimming beach area on the other side of the fort at the farthest end of the island. Nice and isolated. We got in the water, the sea floor lined with rocks - on which I cut by foot as a result from the massive force of the deceptively small waves. Jay thought he got stung by a jellyfish, as he emerged out of the water with a line of burning red down his arm. A group of us waded in the water for a good time, once we got a hang of the waves and their momentum, talking about the most random stuff. (Try the documentary "Grizzly Man.")

I got out of the water a bit early to do some shopping. I finally got a wrap skirt I wanted, but it's extremely long. There's so much fabric, I think I could sew it into a fitted skirt from a pattern when I get home. I bought some other souvenirs and gifts, too. But I just didn't have the energy to hassle and bargain for a long time, so I know I got totally ripped off.

We took the ferry back to Dakar. Kind of uneventful. Chris, however, met another guy from his hometown of Columbia, SC. They found out they went to the same high school, too. Numbers and e-mail addresses were exchanged. Pretty small world.

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photo by: WorldXplorer