Friday, August 26, 2011

Do the Hustle...

As we started our reconnaissance  mission to find our kids school  on Tuesday - a nice well dressed man (1st mistake) - who suggested that he worked in/around the Presidential Palace (2nd mistake) - saw we were reviewing our map to get our bearings and offered to guide us. So we took him up on it. He had good command of English and French and we spoke to him in both. He pointed out the school and somewhat distracted us from actually going in, wanted to show us the market but we said we had to visit the bank first (our 3rd mistake). He waited patiently - outside in the 90 degree heat. After we figured out the banking situation - we walked through this chaotic market - Sandanga  (we think that was the name and perhaps I'm being generous in actually calling it a market) - - with people, cars, goats, broken down buses, taxis, welders, woodworkers, outdoor sewing factories, food stalls, you name it - it will require a future visit with a camera for sure.  At one point I said to Manning something like - Are you sure he's not asking for any payment and Manning said "no" (4th mistake  believing Manning - always finding the best in people). We were then directed to this one shop where we could definitely see they were sewing the African shirts (and one of the twins said - I don't think this is coming from China - "true") - we did bargain (5th mistake - not hard enough) two shirts but there was a bit of discomfort  - as more items were being pushed upon us to purchase. 
We moved out of this open air factory of people and sewing machines, fabric and completed sewed goods. It really was amazing extremely colorful - yet extremely overwhelming. At that point I wanted to end our excursion at which point the gentleman gave each of us a tiny gift which we tried to refuse. He talked about a new baby and a celebration. And that he was going to buy a lamb. At that point it's possible he wanted to continue having us come along but we made it clear it was time to part ways.  We thanked him for his time and then he asked for some money for being "our guide" - at that point we were a bit off kilter on how to handle it - we ended up giving him equivalent to $10 -  then we realized we'd been "hustled" - thankfully - he was actually harmless.  He did walk around with us for approximately 3 hours. After we returned and thought about what had transpired - we searched the web and found - the "buyer beware" blog posts on tripadvisor about our very exact experience!  Lesson Learned - Day 1 - and perhaps now that - that experience-  is out of the way (and we know nothing terrible happened - no pickpockets or anything stolen) - we will be more in tune with any future 'guides'.  Yet we know there are many many many nice Senegalese people all around us. We also acknowledge that the US is not immune to the 'hustler factor' either - it just comes in different forms and different flavors.
There's no question that what we have observed  and experienced is that this is an impoverished city, densely packed - with people trying to figure out how to live (or maybe even survive). 


  1. Wow, could Addison and Parker look more excited about their new shirts?! :)
    I'm finally catching up with your posts. I've been thinking of you soooooo much!

    1. Thanks JAMM for posting and reading. It means alot.

  2. Gosh the do look like they were excited!