The Road to Dakar, Day 1



  I awaken to the sound of roosters and prayer, certain that I’m dreaming but quickly realizing I’m back in the Muslim village of Thiès, two hours from the coastal capital of Senegal. I was met at dawn yesterday at the Dakar airport by my new “team” who will guide and oversee my project this week … and we hit the ground running when we reached Thiès, meeting with various craftspeople and setting up a plan for the coming week.

   First on the agenda is the seaside village of Saly. I am a guest at the home of Mme. Gueye and her family, who I met on a visit three months prior, and I’m feeling welcomed with open arms. In the kitchen, Aissatau, one of Mme. Gueye’s housekeepers, pours me strong and spicy coffee and breaks me off half a loaf of oh-so-soft, fresh French bread just delivered from the boulangerie. I ask her to boil me some eggs that I picked up yesterday at the market to be sure I start the day with some protein. She’s familiar with this routine of mine. The window maker enters the kitchen and asks if that is the egg of a chicken and can he come to America with me. 

   In Saly we stop at a crafts market, where I become fixated on a tall mask with beading and a pebble effect. I negotiate hard and knock the price down from 150 USD to 35. I have no idea how I’m going to get this thing home. I feel badly and give the man 37 USD.

   We stumble upon a row of oceanfront villas with their own little pools … A guard informs me that they are for rent. I’m already scheming to come back and take a villa for two weeks, bringing along the shoemakers, crochet lady, beaders, and a cook, so we can collaborate and work by the sea.  



Colorful markets abound in Senegal.


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