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Published: March 13th 2007
Today we went to a fishing village in Ngor, visited a school, met the principal, some kids and gave them some supplies. We also looked at some possible accommodations for us in the village. The nervewracking walking on sand and too-recent memory of lifting heavy bags did not incline me to even consider them (besides, we already had a place, didn't we? ) "I Try, Man" was buying a phone card at the village store when, suddenly, English erupted in my direction from behind the counter, "You are fine. You are very fine!" I attempted to demure and be appreciative in French. I think I said "Thank you, please."
Eventually, tires were inflated and the reason we came to Ngor seemed to be on again: we were going to visit Pink Lake. We joined a tour group, mostly from the States, for the ride. There was a West Indian couple in their late 50s or so, an early 60ish retired nurse, an 80ish black woman with two artificial knees, an entertaining mother-daughter duo from Toronto, and a woman whose bearing reminded me of Maya Angelou, and whose banter reminder why I don't do tour groups: she said, more than once,
as we drove on the outskirts of villages to Pink Lake: "So... they actually LIVE
The traffic to and from Pink Lake was maddening; bumper to bumper with long stretches of no movement whatsoever. There are no lanes painted on the roads, and it's baffling that there's not calamity at every intersection, with overcrowded buses laden with bundles on top, doors swinging open at back, mule drawn carts, and goats milling about clogging the streets. There are traffic circles where everything should be at a dead halt, but somehow, some way, even without traffic lights or cops, cars move on.
We had lunch at a campground resort restaurant at Pink Lake, then listened to a thorough and well-executed English presentation on the work that goes on there; the salt extraction, where it's imported to, what makes the water pink and when. And, eventually, the clamor to buy; firs the coy presentation of something as a gift, then the follow up: "How much you pay?" At one point I was giving out lollipops and thought to hurl the bag yards away from me just to free up my psychic and physical space from the masses that seemed
to descend. Fortunately I recovered my humanity and just redirected traffic by handing the bag off to S instead.
After Pink Lake we visited a village in Rufisque, where the chief's handsome heir apparent jokingly called women the problem and men the solution. There was a woman there from Oklahoma who apparently has visited every year for the past 15 or so, going through the bounty of medicine and supplies she'd brought with her. We met wives, saw their separate quarters and kitchens, took turns trying to artfully pound millet and exchanged email addresses with the children, many of whom were stunning; surely bound for SuperModeldom. And it was here, in this seemingly desolate village, that I learned there's an American rapper named 'fingazsticky' who inspired the apprentice chief's email address. Who Knew?
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