Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Dany Boy and Little Paris

This fine fellow here is my friend Daniel, but he goes by Dany, aka Dany Boy.  Surprisingly he is quite the model as you can see. Lol

Without going into too much detail, I met Dany back in December.  He was a friend of a friend here in Bissau. After the1st 20 minutes of meeting him I decided I didn’t like him. He knows why. But after a while I came to understand that I had caught him on a bad day and I found that he is actually a nice guy and super funny and we became good friends. 

Theibu Dien, a traditional Senegalese dish
When I was trying to buy my ticket to Dakar I had 2 options: Bissau to Morocco with a 10 hour lay over, then a connecting flight to Mauritania or a flight to Dakar with an over night stay and then a connecting flight the following day to Mauritania.  I was so tempted to go to Morocco, because it is one of the countries I really want to visit, but a 10 hour layover wouldn’t have left time to do much of anything.  Dakar also happened to be a cheaper flight, so the only problem was that I needed to find a place to stay over night while in Dakar. Dany happened to be in Dakar finishing his Masters, so when I asked f I could crash at his place over night going to and from Mauritania he said I was more then welcome.

After the first day in Dakar I realized one day on the way back was not going to be enough, so I moved my ticket to give me 3 days instead.  Dakar is not called ‘little paris’ for no reason!  And while in Mauritania I also learned that I have a lot of family in Dakar, so I needed to take the opportunity to see them while I was there. 
My Unce Idressa and Family

My Aunty Maryama's children

Once back in Dakar we planned the 3 days military style. Dany drew a map of Dakar on the white board and drew symbols for all must see tourist locations.  Then he turned to me and asked,   “What are your priorities?”

There was so little time and so much to do!! Aside from visiting family I also had to do some much needed shopping (which with me is always very time consuming) and of course do some sight seeing!!

View of Gore Island
I was able to accomplish ALMOST everything on my to do list except go to the beach (there was just no time!) And had it not been for Dany there is no way it would have been possible.  

He helped me navigate Medina, a neighborhood in Dakar, so I could get to my uncles house.  From my uncles house I went to Pikine, where my 3 of my first cousins live whom I had never met.  They are the children of my dad’s sister Maryama who recently passed in 2010.

He took me to Gore island, a small island just a 20 min boat ride away from Dakar.  The Island is famous due to its tragic history of being one of the many slave ports where Africans were kept before they were shipped to the Americas. Such slave houses have been turned into museums and tourist attractions. The famous ‘door of no return’, where even Obama has had his photo taken,  is located in side the house of slaves which was the door Africans went through to embark the slave ships.  Despite its history, the Island its self is gorgeous!
The door of no return

Dany even put up a fight so I wouldn’t have to pay the inflated non-African citizen fee to go to the Island! (Although he lost the money I gave him to pay for the ticket [Did you get rid of those shorts yet??] which essentially tripled the price of the ticket hahaha… but it’s the thought that counts!)

We went to the highly controversial African Renaissance, constructed by the ex-president of Senegal Abdoulya Wade as a symbol that “African people and nations shall overcome the current challenges confronting the continent and achieve cultural, scientific, and economic renewal." (source)  

The controversy is over the image of the statue. Senegal is a 80 percent muslim country, in which modesty is a pillar of the religion. The Image as you can see, if of half clothed men and women, the womens breast even being out in the open.

He held my bags while I shopped, gave me advice on shoe colors, and argued prices for me when my French and bartering skills were lacking. 
The African Renaissance Statue 

Did I mention he picked me up at the airport after midnight twice?! And on the way to Dakar from Mauritania the flight was delayed by almost 2 hours and I had no way to tell him, so I arrived at the airport to find he had waited the entire time.

 And all the while he put up with my criticisms, complaints, frustrations, and fatigue ( Hey, I’m only human!).  If those are not the characteristics of an incredible human being, then I don’t know what are!

I absolutely loved Dakar, but I know that it wouldn’t have been nearly as amazing of an experience if he hadn’t been a part of it. I have been truly blessed with his friendship.

So Dany, this post is dedicated to you as a symbol of my appreciation for kindness and hospitality you showed me in Dakar.  Thank you, Obrigada, e Merci Beacoup. 

Message to the Youth

To the youth of Africa
And of the diaspora
If one day your steps lead you
to the foot of this monument
Think about all that we have sacrificed
Our Liberty and our lives
For the Renaissance of Africa

-Abdoulaye Wade

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