Donkey Crossing

Welcome to Donkey Crossing! Donkey Crossing is an on-line account of one Limey and one Yank living one Dream. From September 2006 until the end of 2007, we plan to visit friends and family on five continents and immerse ourselves into various cultures, natural phenomena and ways of life. We hope you enjoy our tales and visit often! Cheers, Jason and Rachel Napoli

Thursday, March 08, 2007

(The Diop Family)
One event we had been looking forward to since we added Senegal to our itinerary was visiting the family of our friends Chris and Ngone Vaught. Chris grew up in Naperville and met Ngone while working in West Africa for the Peace Corps. They currently live in Los Angeles, but we contacted Ngone's brother, Abdou, shortly after arriving to Senegal and he was a tremendous help to us during our stay in Dakar. After a late night out dancing to mbalax music, we met Abdou the following day for a trip to the family village, Boukhou, fifty kilometers from Dakar.

Abdou in the family home in front of a traditional plate of fish and rice. Before we barely had two feet out of the car, or met a single person in the village, we were whisked away to a house and placed in front of a delicious meal. "First we eat, then we say hello", Abdou quickly explained.

So what does one bring as a token of appreciation to Boukhou? We suspected flowers or a box of chocolates might not be quite appropriate, but thought it best to ask to avoid embarrassment on either side. We were advised to bring a bag of we brought the biggest bag we could find! The 110 lbs. (50kg.) bag would apparently last two weeks in the kitchen of our hosts, a family of nine.
The matriarch of the family is a wonderful woman called Fatou. She was very happy to have us visit her family and even offered us a piece of land in which to build our own home if we decided to stay in Boukhou. Fatou and I pose for a shot in front of the house Chris and Ngone are building in the village.It was difficult to keep track of all the children in the village, but never too hard to help them crack a smile.
As if the gracious hospitality wasn't enough, Rachel and I were presented with a gorgeous collection of traditional West African clothing just before we left Boukhou. The giving, receiving and trying on of outfits turned into quite the occasion, with Fatou being the first on her feet, singing and dancing. Soon everyone under the mango tree was joining in - clapping, dancing and singing. The Senegalese truly have music in their spirit! Rachel, Fatou and one of Fatou's daughters get down to a traditional song. The family congregate for a photo by the heart of the home: the shady mango tree.
This is a tight knit community, and we observed a particularly strong bond between the women.
Our time with Abdou and the Diop family in Boukhou has been one of the biggest highlights of our visit to Senegal. We cannot thank them enough for showering us with unforgettable experiences, great food and beautiful outfits. If any Donkey Crossing readers are contemplating a visit to Senegal, the Diop family will no doubt be pleased to see you in Boukhou. If you stop by the village, maybe you'll find us building our home there on the plot that Fatou so graciously offered us!

On our last night in Dakar, we played host for a change and took Abdou to a fabulous Cape Verdean restaurant. This was a small token of our appreciation for his generous hospitality.


Blogger Chris said...

Kathleen Aiza was so excited when we scrolled down to the picture of her cousins! Thanks for the kind post. Africa needs people like you! Move in next door -- we'll eat mangos together under the mango tree and start a millet farm... and dance under the moonlight to the beat of Senegal.

9:49 AM  
Blogger Thomas said...

man, it's hard to keep up with you guys. i think you could name your blog 'Cheetah Crossing'. glad to read/see you're having such a great time. looks like another good fishing spot found as well. happy trails!

4:37 PM  
Blogger MidWestCowboy said...

great to see fun and happiness...quite a leg, glad to see guys, gosh, you guys...

11:30 PM  

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