Two days later Manning receives a call from Oumar saying he'd like him to come out and see the progress on the table. It's pretty certain the guy is motivated and excited about this opportunity - how often does an American guy like Manning show up with plans prepared and ask him to craft a table. Not to often I suspect. This time we arrange the visit on a Tuesday so I can tag along when the kids are in school on a long day (8-3) - just to ensure there is time to account for the horrific traffic on a weekday that we've heard so much about.
First things first - taxi negotiation time! As it turns out there is a hotel 2 buildings down from the apartment and we finally realized and made the connection that the 4-6 taxi's kind of parked in front was the taxi stand for the hotel. We decided to give these guys a shot at taking us to Pikine. The negotiations start and they all were starting at 5,000 CFA and we kept saying, no 2,500 CFA since we new that was the cost of Manning's last return trip. They started working their way down to 3,000 and we decide who needs these guys we'll just flag down any taxi that is driving by - there is no shortage!! Just about that point "Amar" steps up to the task.
Off we go. (reminder to myself - any and all things about the taxi is a required future blog post)
We literally inch our way out of the city center - being held back by other cars, taxis, people and the lack of any stop signs or traffic lights to help the flow. We work our way onto the Autoroute - truly the first time for me getting way out of the neighborhood since our arrival. So what do I notice - mainly a vast display of concrete buildings/apartments/housing perhaps anywhere from 1 - 5 stories in various states, buildings that appear to have been abandoned, piles of rubble, shells of buildings that are in various states of construction, or buildings that just seem dilapidated probably just due to the materials used here or continuous streams of shacks and shanties with corrugated roofing. You do catch sight of palm trees (or maybe they were coconut trees) here and there inlnad. Lots and lots and lots of clothing hanging out to dry - for two main reasons - electricity is an issue here so having a dryer serves no purpose - and it's certainly a luxury that a vast majority can not afford and it's hot and easy to dry clothes without it. Once we got off the Autoroute and started to weave our way into Pekine - my mind was still absorbing everything I was seeing. Here's a couple of still photos I captured from within the taxi.
On the first and last photos - you can catch a sprinkling of vegetation in the background. Since 'green space' is practically non-existent in the city center - I couldn't help but notice this because it was so pleasing to the eye. Turns out that Pikine has a focus on urban agriculture or market-gardening - small scale production of fruits, vegetables, flowers and plants - from what I gathered with a little web research - while it's providing income to farmers and a source of nutrition for a population - there is also a concern regarding irrigation practices and breeding grounds for mosquitoes - therefore keeping malaria alive and well.
After a few photos I remembered my camera had a video feature on it so here is a clip that gives you another sense of the driving experience .
Upon arriving at the shop location - there was the table - right out front and center - Oumar was eager to show Manning the progress and discuss the fine details of finishing it up. Then Oumar wanted to show me the different shops and meet all the 'teachers' and 'students' who were there. Of which I obliged.
From there he insisted we come with him to another location where he was to provide additional instruction as part of a seminar that was being conducted. Turns out the taxi driver stuck around long enough so we all hopped back into the cab. Off we go (again).
In addition to the woodworking instruction going on - some incredible weaving was also taking place. I became completely memorized by the focus and concentration of the weaver and his apprentice.
What was being woven appeared to be a long sash or scroll of their design - as you can see it piling up underneath both the weavers chairs. Yet what they were going to do with it or how it would be incorporated into something else was not clear to me.
Just before we left I got a bit choked up because I could see how passionate Oumar and the teachers were in helping to guide their students on a path for self sufficiency and pride in their handiwork. It's surely a different pace here.
Of course the day could not end without a traffic jam mid-day back into the city center - in creeping along at a snails pace or not moving at all - the street vendors can easily catch up to you as you sit idling - and it's imperative to keep the windows open for air because it's so dang hot!- and in some cases the windows just don't close - so here is my account of everything I was offered as I sat in the front seat by each individual person - belts, perfume, coat hangers, pedicure/manicure kit for little girls, remote controls, cell phone cards, nail clippers, fans, tissue, washcloths (of which our taxi driver purchased from a vast array of colors and as I watched him wipe his sweat - I was kicking myself for not buying one too - as there is a plethora of vendors with washcloths or anything else for that matter), keychains, sunglasses, peanuts, water canteens, windshield wipers, cell phone chargers, some one asking for money, flip-flops, games, flashlights and socks.
Welcome to Dakar!