Over my fall break, a group of friends and I traveled to southern Senegal to the Casamance region. To get there, we took an overnight boat to Ziguinchor, which took roughly 17 hours. The boat reminded us a bit of the Titanic, but Senegalese style and of course no danger of icebergs. We ate a nice dinner in the boat’s dinning hall and then settled into the bunks in our private cabin. We awoke to the shores of the Casamance river, with dolphins leaping along side the boat as we cruised along. After breakfast we packed up our cabin and headed up to the top deck to watch the docking.
After a long unloading process, we gathered our luggage and walked a short distance to the hotel. Exhausted, we took turn showering and relaxed a bit on our balcony overlooking the river. There were pirogues, long fishing boats, dragging nets back and forth, bringing in fresh fish to sell at the markets. Once everyone was ready, we headed out in search of lunch. We ended up sitting down at a restaurant we initially thought was closed because there was no one else there. However, the chief took our orders and disappeared to prepare our food. After waiting for over an hour, we realized why the food was taking so long: the man had left to go into town to buy the ingredients needed to make the meal. But we were happy waiting, listening to music and enjoying a bottle of wine. Finally the chief brought over our feast: whole-grilled fish, shredded carrots, cucumbers, tomatoes, fries, and onion sauce. In Dakar, there aren’t as many vegetables used in the cooking so we were all very happy to be eating something so fresh and delicious.
We spent the rest of the afternoon exploring the town. We stopped at fruit stands to buy juicy mangoes and found fresh mint to make tea. We also met a man who agreed to drive us down to Cap Skirring, the next stop on our trip around the south. We spent the evening lazing about at our hotel, making Attaya, traditional Senegaeles tea, on the balcony and chatting with each other. Everyone was happy to have air conditioning, comfortable beds and to start our adventure in the south.
In the morning, we wandered into town and found a small restaurant, where we ordered the classic egg and fry sandwiches. We stopped at the local market and picked up some road food, before heading back to the hotel to pack up and meet with the sept-place driver who would take us further south to Cap Skirring. Around 1, we piled our bags into the back of the station wagon and all seven of us squished in, ready for our drive and to explore yet another area of Senegal.