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

Monday, March 19, 2007

Petite Côte, Grand Relax
Our few days on the beaches of Saint Louis (see “Meet me in Saint Louis”, March 8th 2007) whetted our appetites for Senegal’s Atlantic coastline. From Dakar, we traveled south to La Somone, a low-key village on the Petite Côte to try a different flavor of the coast. As if quiet, immaculately natural gold beaches licked by emerald ocean aren’t pleasing enough, La Somone boasts a beautiful lagoon, reserved for pelicans and other birdlife just a few minutes walk along the beach. There’s not much human activity on our preferred spot of beach, except for young boys playing, chasing and splashing nearby, women carrying buckets and bowls of bagged peanuts & fruit on their heads and the odd trinket salesperson passing by.

La Somone, where the lagoon meets the ocean.

Closer to the lagoon there’s a small resort full of French holidaymakers, many of whom (male and female) have breasts oiled and splayed across loungers, scorching in the Senegal sun. As the foreigners recline, the local males exercise on the beach with military discipline. We see them jogging, doing squats and push ups, and some strange backwards walk move, sort of like the moonwalk, but not really. All follow a similar exercise regime which, combined with the physical graft that comes from living in a fishing community, treats them well judging by their lean and athletic physiques. I wonder if Senegal is quietly preparing to take the world by storm at the next Olympic games.

Restaurant Thiokam - our exclusive La Somone hangout.

Across the lagoon is a simple straw floored hut serving drinks and fresh fish lunches. What it lacks in sophistication is more than compensated for in location, exclusivity (it’s a swim or short pirogue ride away from the resort beach) and hospitality. The local guys who run the place are a friendly, welcoming bunch who play djembe drums while we drink cold sugary beverages.

The restaurant's private taxi service in action.

Mmmm - Delicious!

There’s another wildlife reserve seven kilometers away and we decide to walk there with Omar, one of the guys from the beach shack. We pass through another village where we are the star attraction for the local kids. They run towards us, shouting “Toubab!” and grabbing at our hands optimistically, looking for money, sweets or “un cadeau” (a gift), as they’ve been trained to by the tourists who give them stuff. The reserve is dry, barren and meditatively quiet. We see a few birds and baobab trees, but in the midday heat the prospect of getting out of the sun is of more immediate interest, and we press on towards Popenguine village for anything liquid that might come from a fridge.

Local fisherman are assisted by a plethora of young helpers as they haul in their nets.

These cliffs are on the edge of Popenguine wildlife reserve - an eerily calm place flanked by buzzing fishing communities.

Back in La Somone, we find a promising restaurant owned by a French man who looks like Albert Einstein and delights in telling us the story of his grandmother who married an American soldier and moved to Chicago. I order a pizza with smoked salmon, white fish and crème fraiche - a divine concoction that only a Frenchman could have come up with. As we dine, we observe two prostitutes at the bar being accosted by drunk and obnoxious French men. Neither patrons nor proprietor are impressed, but the messy scene continues to unfold. Clearly the profession is extremely tolerated, perhaps even legal here. Arguably it’s better for the women to solicit in the relative safety of a respectable restaurant than out on the street. However, one older French couple look as if the whole thing put them off their prawns.

Enjoying some Senegal rays by the lagoon.

Of course, there are no shortage of donkeys here. We couldn't resist a shot of this cute one when it crossed our path.

The next leg of our journey across Senegal, then into and around Mali, will involve long distances on bad roads and old trains in extreme heat, with no coast for hundreds of miles. La Somone is our last chance to taste fresh seafood and breathe sea air for a while. Watch this space for memoirs from Mali, in the heart and heat of West Africa.

Another hectic day at the beach......


Blogger Lisa said...

Hello Jason & Rachel:
I have truly enjoyed reading about your amazing adventures in Africa. We look forward to seeing you on your next visit to Naples. Happy Easter!
Lisa Boet
Bamboo Cafe

12:43 PM  

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