of soda and cookies. While we were still eating and drinking, the Senegalese
women began to play the drums and dance—the traditional way of ending a
work day. Everyone gathered in a large circle as the women, including Marie,
showed off their moves and dancing skills. One by one, the Americans joined
in. Even though our efforts probably weren’t as aesthetically pleasing as those
of the Senegalese women, everyone had a lot of fun and it was the perfect end
to a productive afternoon.
A Visit to Marie’s Village and the Salt Pools
Juliette Bobrow, Grade 10
On our fourth day in Senegal we were invited to visit the small village
where Marie, the principal of École Natangué, was born and grew up. It took
us about forty-five minutes to drive there from M’bour. As we passed through
several villages on the way, the children would smile at us, wave, and sometimes shout, “toubab!”, which means “white person” or “foreigner” in Wolof.
When we arrived at Marie’s village we were greeted by her mother, who
shook our hands and invited us into her home. Later, her father arrived; he
was extremely kind and very interested in our trip.
During the time we spent in Marie’s village and other villages in the area, I
was struck by how different the ambience was from that of a fishing town like
M’bour or the capital city of Dakar we had visited on our first day in Senegal.
There is an air of calm and relaxation in the villages and even the markets
there, in sharp contrast to the overcrowded, somewhat overwhelming market
in M’bour and the crowded streets of Dakar.
After saying goodbye to Marie’s family, we all loaded onto carts pulled
by donkeys, a common mode of transportation in Senegal. As we headed
towards the ocean and the salt pools where most of the villagers work, the
scenery changed completely. The landscape was very barren, with the occasional baobab tree, and there was no sign of civilization.
Finally we arrived at our destination, the salt pools where the women and
girls in the village work collecting salt. Most of the girls in our group got into
the pools with the Senegalese women to help scoop up the salt into buckets,
which was really fun. We then got to carry the salt we had collected on our
heads. The Senegalese women made this look very easy, sometimes doing
it without even stabilizing the bucket with their hands, but it proved to be
somewhat difficult for us because the
buckets were heavy and the path was
uneven. Nevertheless, being able to
immerse ourselves in the work of the
women was an amazing experience.
One moment from this day that I
will never forget is when we were
riding back on the donkey carts. The
wind was blowing strongly that day,
and all of a sudden my hat flew off my
head. Instantly, a boy from the village
who was accompanying us to the salt
works jumped off the cart to retrieve
it. This was such a touching gesture,
which I believe truly demonstrated the
considerate and helpful nature of the
Senegalese people we met on our trip.
All in all, it was a memorable day that
gave us an unforgettable glimpse of a
different way of life.