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Published: March 9th 2018
This is an island entirely made of seashells. The villagers have placed the local cemetery there.
Tree hugging, oyster "eating" and more
You are now reading the second part of our trip in Senegal. The previous blog entry
included what we saw in Dakar and north thereof. In this we will tell you about the places we visited south of Dakar. Joal-Fadiouth Joal-Fadiouth
is a very special place and we are happy that we went there. It is not a place where you are likely to hang around for more than a few hours but it certainly is worth the journey there and back.
Joal-Fadiouth is better described as two separate communities, Joal and Fadiouth. Joal is a busy town where the main industry is fishing. It is not very interesting place unless you like busy fishing towns. Fadiouth is on an island, separated from Joal by a 500 meter long bridge, and is a totally different place. It is actually like entering a different world to cross from Joal to Fadiouth.
Fadiouth is a community where people live, work and do everything else people do but it has a special status and therefore tourists who wish to visit both need to pay an entrance fee and
Baobab tree growing on the island of shells
Over hundreds of years they have dumped hundreds of millions of shells at the same place. Today the heap of discarded shells has formed a separate island. The island is well over 100 meters in diameter and at the highest point it is 9 meters high.
must be accompanied by a guide. We decided to take the extended tour which included a boat ride.
We first stopped at a mudflat where the community used to store grain in special storage huts. These huts stand on stilts because the mud flat gets flooded each high tide. Consequently they were only available during low tide. This way of storing grain served two purposes. The houses in the village stand tight together and if fire breaks loose it could easily spread from house to house and consume every home in the entire village. By keeping the food stored elsewhere if catastrophe strikes and they all became homeless, at least they didn't have to go hungry. Secondly, insects and rodents don't like salt water much. So when huts were used as storage there were fewer rats and bugs in the flour. The grain storage huts are no longer in use and the old ones that still stand are sadly enough slowly falling apart due to old age.
On the mudflat we were also shown some oysters which grow there and how mangrove seedlings get planted into the mud. Mangrove seedlings are elongated and sharp
Grain storage huts
The community used to store grain in special storage huts. These huts stand on stilts because the mud flat gets flooded each high tide. Insects and rodents don't like salt water much. So when huts were used as storage there were fewer rats and bugs in the flour.
at the ends. They float in water but their mass centre is not in the middle, it is shifted towards the sharp end. When they float they therefore do so with the sharp end down. During ebb tide the water level falls and if a seedling is in shallow waters it stands a chance to get stuck in the bottom if the bottom is soft enough. Once the seedling is stuck in the bottom it grows and a new mangrove tree is "born".
The oysters we saw at the first stop served as an "appetizer" to the second stop on the tour - an island entirely made of seashells. People have lived in Fadiouth for almost a thousand years. One of their sources of income and also their own main food supply is clams and oysters. The clams and oysters grow in abundance in the mangroves around Fadiouth and they simply go out in boats and pick as much as they like. After they have eaten the oysters and the clams the shells become garbage. When they sell the seafood to other towns they usually only sell the meat and also then the shells are left behind.
On the mudflat we were shown some oysters which grow there
Over hundreds of years they have dumped all these, hundreds of millions of them, shells at the same place. Today the heap of discarded shells has formed a separate island. The island is well over 100 meters in diameter and at the highest point it is 9 meters high. The villagers make good use of the island because they have placed the local cemetery there.
Last leg of the tour took us to the village. Fadiouth Village is very different from other villages in Senegal. There are no cars there so it is very quite and relaxed. Also the vast majority of the people living there are Christians, most of the people in Senegal are Muslims, so there is a church in town and there are even some pigs roaming around. Sine Ngayene and the Senegambian stone circles
In Senegal there are very few archaeological sites. The most important ones are the Senegambian stone circles
. These stone circles can be found both in Senegal and the Gambia. These sites consist of megaliths placed in large circles. The megaliths are between one and two meters high and in a typical circle there are between 7 and
A young mangrove tree and demonstration how seedlings get planted
Mangrove seedlings are elongated and sharp at the ends. They float in water but when they float they do so with the sharp end down. During ebb tide the water level falls and if a seedling is in shallow waters it stands a chance to get stuck in the bottom if the bottom is soft enough. Once the seedling is stuck in the bottom it grows and a new mangrove tree is "born".
15 megaliths. These stone circles can be found in many places in central Senegal and in the Gambia. Most of the sites are small with only one to five circles. But four sites are much larger and these four have been recognized as a world heritage.
Most of these sites are a bit time consuming to visit because they are all in rather remote locations. We went to the site at Sine Ngayene where there are more than 50 circles in close proximity to each other and the total number of stones is supposed to be more than a thousand.
To visit Sine Ngayene is as an experience much more than just seeing some stones. It involves a drive more than an hour out in the middle of nowhere all on simple dirt roads. In the dry season the road was OK if you drive carefully. In the wet season the road is probably much rougher. It was interesting to drive through the farming landscape and the small farming villages. It is very much a different world from most other places we visited in Senegal. Toubakouta
Toubakouta is a small
As part of the Christmas celebrations there was a nativity scene on display in the church. Note that Jesus is black. The children of the village could not understand why all the children they see are black and the child Jesus is depicted as white. So they made it easy and got themselves a black Jesus
village fortunate enough to be an excellent gateway to the Saloum Delta and the Saloum Delta National Park
. It is a simple, quiet and relaxed place which we liked a lot. When we were in Toubakouta we took two tours, one to see the delta and the birdlife and one to visit Sippo Village.
We have decided to publish wildlife and other animal pictures in a separate blog entry. So we won't talk more about the bird tour here other than that it was nice to see the nature along the Delta.
Sippo Village is a small isolated village where fishing and agriculture is the main source of income. Well, tourism also make them earn a buck or two because they welcome tours there and the tour companies pay a small fee each time a tour boat moors there. We didn't take any photos of the village because it felt awkward to photograph people's homes. But we did take a few other pictures there which we hope will give an idea of what the village looks like. An odd thing about the village is that the village chief is a woman and she is referred to as
Fadiouth Village is very different from other villages in Senegal. There are no cars there so the village is very quite and relaxed. Also the vast majority of the people living there are Christians, most of the people in Senegal are Muslims, so there is a church in town.
the Queen. Saly/M'bour
Saly and M'bour are two towns, totally different in character, which have grown together. M'bour is a rather typical Senegalese fishing town. The main attraction here is the large and very busy fish market.
When we walked towards the fish market we met a large group of young people. They seemed to be cheering something. We are guessing that the local football team had won a match but it could also be something totally different. Here is a short film of them.
Saly is slightly north of M'bour and there the beach is the attraction. We are not really beach goers but even we thought the beach in Saly looked nice. What was good was that there was almost no garbage on the beach.
Does that sound like a strange remark? "Almost no garbage on the beach" is not something we usually write. Here at the end we are going to keep on writing things we normally don't. We are very sorry to say this but we did not like Senegal and we didn't like the Gambia either.
Bridge to Fadiouth
Fadiouth is on an island, separated from Joal by a 500 meter long bridge.
There is one major reason for that - there was too much garbage around. There was rubbish everywhere. Plastic mainly but also textile, cans, bottles, Styrofoam etc. There was trash on the beaches, there was garbage on the streets, and there was big heaps of waste dumped outside the towns. Sadly enough there were very few places that were free from rubbish. When they in Senegal and the Gambia get themselves a working waste management program we might consider coming back. But until then we will travel elsewhere.
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