Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Ofeibea Quist-Arcton - NPR African Correpsondant - Chimes In...

 I miss NPR and while I could easily listen to it on the web I haven't. I suppose I have other things going on - and Morning Edition would not be on during my morning (even if I can get the podcast) - just doing other things like French lessons,  getting to the gym, walking kids back and forth to school two times a day, mental gymnastics with Sudoku from time to time,  probably reading more (in English) but surely talking more (in French!), preparing the English lessons for the girls at Le Poupennierre, playing tour guide, buying Africa Wax Prints which the tailor is turning into dresses (a blog post I'm totally behind on) - and things just take longer here sometimes so I think less about listening to the radio in English but we do get the BBC on occasion. And actually when I am listening to my ipod it's usually music or Coffee Break French which I love in small podcast chunks to reinforce what I am learning in class.  I digress. One of my favorite analysts is Ofeibea Quist-Arcton who honestly put Dakar on the map for me once I realized we were headed here. You can't help but get attached to her journalistic prowess. For those NPR junkies who know her voice you also know what I'm talking about.  And if you focus hard enough on the article you may even just hear it - I encourage you to read - especially the last line ;+}

In searching the web today about any new news I came across one of her latest written articles for the BBC. 


Senegal: How Abdoulaye Wade's star has faded

L: Abdoulaye Wade in 2009; R: Mr Wade in 2001

When Abdoulaye Wade swept to power in 2000, he was the toast of Senegal - hailed by the youth as the hope of the West African country.
Propelled from veteran opposition leader to a hands-on, apparently dynamic, president, Mr Wade campaigned on the platform of his slogan Sopi - "change".
Senegalese now complain that his leadership has been a change for the worse.
After 12 years in office, Mr Wade's support has dwindled - even among the young Senegalese who helped propel him to power. 

Senegalese opposed to the candidature of Abdoulaye Wade demonstrate on 27 January 2012 in Dakar  
The young seem particularly against Mr Wade's third term bid
He faces a barrage of criticism - including tarnishing Senegal's credentials as a mature, stable and peaceful democracy with a republican army that has remained in its barracks.
His opponents say Mr Wade's most egregious offence is his determination to impose his son, Karim, on the nation as Senegal's next leader.
Karim Wade is nothing short of a super minister in his father's cabinet - in charge of powerful portfolios such as energy.
The Senegalese resent the fact he is being groomed by his father to take over - without the say-so of the electorate.
Mr Wade accuses his opponents of temper tantrums and petulance and predicts he'll beat them hands down in the scheduled 26 February vote.
His advancing age is also an issue. At more than 85, Senegalese say it is time for Mr Wade to retire graciously, although he blithely ignores all hints that it is time to go.
This shaven-headed octogenarian with owl eyes, switches effortlessly from Wolof to English to French - and from Senegalese grands boubous to smart Western suits.
He loves showing off models in his presidential office of his pet projects and grand plans - for Senegal, West Africa and the continent.
Cunning survivor
But the malaise goes deeper than the opposition.
From the monstrous Renaissance Monument that Mr Wade had built - which offended traditional, cultural and Islamic sensibilities - the Senegalese have long felt he has stopped listening to their wishes and needs.
The youthful Y'en a Marre - "we are fed up" movement was sparked by Mr Wade's rather arrogant decision to try to lower to 25% the threshold for a presidential candidate to win an election in the first round.
That backfired and he was forced to withdraw the proposal after  unprecedented riots on 23 June last year.
Senegal is tired of a president who swans around the globe as a self-styled international conflict mediator, when their own country has its own problems that need resolving.
But Mr Wade is a cunning political survivor.
The question is - in the face of such overwhelming public opposition to his continued presence on the political scene - can he pull another trick from under his sleeve or out of the hat?


"Ofeibea Quist-Arcton DakAAAAAAAAr!"

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Isolated Political Protests Begin...

Visions of future riots and demonstrations? It's hard to know. People want change!   We were far from this protest but our eyes and ears are on alert.


Posting from Voice of America
January 28, 2012

Senegal Braces for Possible Political Violence 

Jane Labous |Dakar

Protesters burn tires in a street after Senegal's highest court ruled that the country's increasingly frail President Abdoulaye Wade, 85, could run for a third term in next month's presidential election, in Dakar, Senegal, January 27, 2012.
Photo: AP 

Protesters burn tires in a street after Senegal's highest court ruled that the country's increasingly frail President Abdoulaye Wade, 85, could run for a third term in next month's presidential election, in Dakar, Senegal, January 27, 2012.
Dakar is on red alert for another night of violence as the Constitutional Court considers the appeals of the rejected presidential candidates.  On Friday, Senegal's highest court ruled that President Abdoulaye Wade can run for re-election, but ruled some other candidates cannot.

Dakar is recovering from violent protests that spread across the city Friday night as news spread that incumbent president Abdoulaye Wade's bid to stand for a third term had been approved by the Constitutional Court.

Youths took to the streets in central Dakar and other towns such as Mbour, Thies and Kaolack. The headquarters of President Wade's Senegalese Democratic Party was burned down, with other angry protesters gathering around the Constitutional Court itself.

Police opened fire with tear gas to disperse protesters in central Dakar, who hurled rocks at police and set tires on fire.  Cars were overturned to make roadblocks.

The opposition says an amendment to the Senegalese constitution sets a limit of two terms for a president. But President Wade, 85, said his first term pre-dated the constitutional amendment.

The court validated 13 other presidential candidates but rejected the candidacy of Senegalese pop star Youssou N'Dour, along with Abdoulahmane Sarr and Keba Keinde.  The Senegalese press is reporting Saturday that Wade's administration will try to invalidate the candidacies of principal opponents Idrissa Seck and Macky Sall.

It is rumored that police have also been ordered to arrest the head of the opposition movement M23.  Abdoulahmane Sarr, who at 43 is one of the youngest candidates, submitted his appeal to the court Saturday morning.  He said that he remains positive.

"We have done everything we can to offer the opportunity to Senegalese people to vote for a competent, engaged youthful politician who offers solutions that they need.  There is no reason that we should be rejected after collecting 12,454 signatures of support," said Sarr.

Youssou N'Dour also appealed the decision early Saturday and is now waiting to see whether his candidacy can be approved.

Military units currently surround the Constitutional Court and others areas in Dakar.

Dakar resident Emmanuel Camara said the protests will only get worse.

"They should expect it to be worse than the June 23 protest, because starting from tomorrow onwards, our youth - what we call our youth forces - will position themselves here in the street.  It's unacceptable," said Camara.

As it currently stands, the centrist Wade will face rivals including Socialist Party leader Ousmane Tanor Dieng and three ex-prime ministers - Idrissa Seck, Macky Sall and Moustapha Niasse.

Sarr says, despite the trouble, Senegal is nevertheless a peaceful place.

"It's a shame about the protests, because we all know that Senegal is a country of peace," said Sarr.  "We would have liked the candidacies to have been set in an atmosphere of peace - and to have had far and transparent elections.  We would hope that the elections can go ahead in as much calm as possible.  It is a shame that we cannot just go ahead with the process as normally as possible.  The young people of Senegal are ready to turn the page and vote for change."

It remains to be seen if the protests will continue in the days running up to the voting on February 26.

Abdoulaye Wade In

 Posting from Voice of America
January 27, 2012

Senegal's Top Court Allows Incumbent President's Run for Third Term

Members of a Senegalese anti-government youth movement Y En A Marre [We're Fed Up] chant slogans during a rally against President Abdoulaye Wade, in the capital Dakar, January 27, 2012.
Photo: Reuters 

Members of a Senegalese anti-government youth movement Y En A Marre [We're Fed Up] chant slogans during a rally against President Abdoulaye Wade, in the capital Dakar, January 27, 2012.
Senegal's highest court has ruled that Abdoulaye Wade can run for a third presidential term, sparking angry protests. 

Reuters says a TV station in Dakar, the capital, says a police officer has died from head injuries suffered during clashes with protesters.

Witnesses say demonstrators were setting tires on fire and overturning vehicles after the constitutional body announced its verdicts late Friday.

The list of confirmed candidates included the 85-year-old incumbent, but the candidacy of Senegalese pop star Youssou Endure was declared invalid.

After the announcement, police opened fire with tear gas to disperse protesters in central Dakar, who threw who rocks at police and set tires on fire.

Ahead of the court ruling Friday, hundreds of opposition protesters chanted and marched through the streets of Dakar to protest President Wade's plan to can seek a third term.

N'Dour told reporters the constitution makes it clear that President Wade should not have the right to run again.

"History is being made today here in Senegal. We are not going to accept anything else but our constitution, which is very clear. He [Wade] doesn't have the right to run once more. It's my final word on this. It's clear and we are ready,'' said N'Dour.

The Senegalese government initially banned Friday's demonstration, but the country's interior minister said late Thursday the rally would be allowed to proceed.

A Senegalese constitutional amendment limits presidents to just two terms.

Wade was first elected president in 2000, and re-elected in 2007. He argues the amendment does not apply to him since it was not in effect when he first assumed office.

Anti-government riots paralyzed Dakar in June after the ruling party moved to create the post of vice president, and also to lower the percentage of votes needed to win the presidential election.

The president's opponents said the moves were aimed at making it easier forWade to be re-elected, and for his son, Karim Wade, to succeed him. The proposals later were dropped.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

Metzo Djatah & Abdoulaye Wade

Yet another fantastic musical evening at the French Institut – this one marked with a different set of observations.  Myself, Manning and another new friend  - here on a multi-year assignment with the UN (whose family was back in the US for a few weeks) was happy to join in with us as we continue to pack in our musical venues and get exposed to so many African and Senegalese musicians.  The beauty of the Institut being so close - sure makes it easy to do!

Parker and Addison – still happy to hang out at the apartment and watch  a movie while we depart. 

This evenings attraction - Metzo Djatah.  Dakar born, he promotes himself with a genre of Afro Urban Folk highlighting his blend of acoustic guitar, traditional African rhythms, urban sounds and carrying a message about life.

We met Francis at 8:30 thinking it would be packed like the previous weeks event  and we were hoping to have a better choice of seats – not that any seat is actually bad – but there are some rows which are a bit higher offering  un-obstructred views *IF* a taller person sits in a row in front.  So we take a peak in and see the theater which holds about 800 people sitting and standing – was barely full.  Not one person yet having taken up even a seat in the front row. Odd! Okay so we wait a few more minutes and decide perhaps people would come later and miss the opening act. So we chose to sit up front and center in the first row.  9:00 came – and the show started.  

 There was no introductions  - a guy  comes out on stage and starts singing. At first I thought maybe it was a warmup (I'm probably the only one in the whole audience who thought that), since that has occurred in the past, but after about 2 songs when more of the band came on stage – I realized this was him and he **was**  the opening act. And the crowd still remained quite thin.  

 Friday, the 27th  was the day Senegal's Constitutional Court was to declare the candidates for presidency  (remember hanging chads, US Supreme Court, Bush vs Gore - don't mean to veer here but it just popped into my head) everyone waiting to find out if Abdoulaye Wade would be allowed to run for a 3rd term.  There has been much controversy around the legitimacy of him being able to run for a 3rd term and his age at 85 – along with likely many other things making people feel the country has run it’s course with his leadership. However there’s always the other 50% who like what he has done and would enjoy seeing him stay on longer.  With last years riots in July it was anticipated there could be some demonstration and rioting from the resulting declaration of the candidate list. So many messages  either on the news, internet,  word of mouth or even e-mail communications from  embassies  did more than to encourage people to stay home or stay away from certain areas . No one knew exactly when the Court  was going to declare and publish the list – even Parker and Addison’s school opted to ensure students were safe and did not have school. And with the French Institut being an ex-pat hangout – it then became no surprise why it was quite empty by the time of the concert began as the list still had not been published and people likely wanted to just remain home.  Here’s an example of an excerpt of the US communication. 

In addition, the Government of Senegal has banned all demonstrations in Senegal from January 26th through January 30th.  However, opposition groups have stated publically that they will defy the ban and they plan to proceed with demonstrations to protest the expected decision of the Constitutional Council.  Available information suggests that demonstrations will be widespread throughout Dakar, rather than one large demonstration confined to a single area.  The possibility of large demonstrations, traffic disruptions and violence exists throughout Dakar, particularly Friday, January 27th  and Saturday, January 28th .

In the recent past the following areas and/or types of locations have been the sites of demonstrations:

Ouakam area;
Mermoz/Fann area;
Plateau area;
Alamdies area (near the Constitutional Council)
Gas stations;
Bridges and traffic circles;
Government buildings to include local government buildings;
Public market areas;
Corniche near University Cheikh Anta Diop

In response to the widespread nature of these planned demonstrations and the possibility of violence, the Embassy is advising its U.S. employees and families to take the following precautions this weekend:

-  Personnel should return to their residences by early evening on Friday, January, 27th.
-  Personnel should avoid travel into, out of, or within Dakar on Saturday, January 28th.
-  Personnel should complete required errands, shopping, etc. on Friday afternoon and not on Saturday. -  Personnel should park vehicles off the street.

U.S. citizens living in Senegal, and particularly in Dakar, are urged to avoid travel late Friday night and through the day on Saturday.  If travel is necessary, please exercise caution.  Stay tuned to media reports, maintain situational awareness, consider alternate travel routes in case of blockage and avoid demonstrations should you come upon them.

From our perspective while they only listed some 'areas' which ours was included,  their mention of public markets, gov't buildings, gas stations and traffic circles to us meant - you might as well include all of Dakar and it's surrounding 'neighborhoods' and 'suburbs'. We felt that if we walked out side our front door and peered past our passageway and and things were to look unruly we would not go but honestly while we need to take the messages in stride – we also want to continue to live our life here – so since the Institut is within walking distance of  4 blocks – we went.  I will say that the area around the Presidential Palace not to far from us showed more presence of police – but from our level here and our neighborhood  - we did not see any outbursts (but this neighborhood did experience it in the past) – really it all seemed ‘normal’ minus many people.

Metzo Djatah gave a great concert full of heart and soul despite the lack of audience that was recognizable. He was so thankful for all that did come to see him and  acknowledged the challgenges of the country and hoped for peace, prosperity and solidarity. 

 The Kora - from wikipedia - A kora is built from a large calabash gourd cut in half and covered with cow skin to make a resonator, and has a notched bridge. It does not fit well into any one category of western instruments and would have to be described as a double bridge harp lute. The sound of a kora resembles that of a harp, though when played in the traditional style, it bears a closer resemblance to flamenco and delta blues guitar techniques. The player uses only the thumb and index finger of both hands to pluck the strings in polyrhythmic patterns (using the remaining fingers to secure the instrument by holding the hand posts on either side of the strings). 

And of course the evening doesn't end without a drink and the final word from the Council - Abdoulaye Wade in, Youssou N'Dour invalidated (c'est dommage) and our friend making it home safely !

Friday, January 27, 2012

The Waiting Game....

Posting from Voice of America -
January 27, 2012 - James Butty

Senegalese Await Court Ruling on President’s Candidacy

Political analyst Abdoul Lo says the Constitutional Court will likely approve President Wade’s bid for a third term
Senegal President  Abdoulaye Wade.

Tensions are high in Senegal in anticipation of a Constitutional Court’s decision on whether President Abdoulaye Wade should be allowed to run for a third term.
The opposition and much of the country’s civil society say the president does not have the constitutional mandate to run for a third term, and they are promising a mass resistance should the court confirms the president’s candidacy.
In anticipation of the ruling and the possible reaction, Interior minister Ousmane Ngom announced a five-day ban on all protests as of Thursday.
Abdoul Lo, a Senegalese political analyst, said since the Constitutional Court judges have been appointed by Wade, it is likely they will approve his decision to seek a third term.
“My fear of what may come from the Constitutional Court decision is probably a go-ahead for the head of state. You know how it works in Africa that, since the head of state is the one appointing all the judges of the court, people expect that the court will side [with the president], and that may create turmoil in the country since the majority of Senegalese people will not accept any unfair decision from the court,” he said.
Wade, first elected in 2000 and re-elected in 2007, argued that, since the length of presidential terms was changed while he was in office, he is able to run for another term.
Lo said most Senegalese have concluded that Wade should not seek re-election.
“What we learned from our constitution is that the head of state has one mandate renewable once.  Since he was elected in 2000, and re-elected 2007, the only reading we can have from our constitution is he has done his two mandates and no longer has the right to run for a third term,” Lo said.
In addition, Lo said Wade’s age, 85, is also concerning to most Senegalese.
He said the uncertainties surrounding the court’s anticipated decision have created heightened fear that Senegal could break out into violence, the kind that occurred in Ivory Coast.
“We’ve seen what happened in Cote d’Ivoire months and months ago, and some people fear that this may happen again in a country that has a very long history of democracy,” he said.
The opposition and much of the country’s civil society are promising a mass resistance should the court confirm the president’s candidacy.
In anticipation of the ruling and the possible reaction, Interior minister Ousmane Ngom announced a five-day ban on all protests that began Thursday.
Lo said the opposition intends to disobey the ban on protests because they feel it is their constitutional right to demonstrate.
“Definitely, the opposition and civil society activists will be out today [Friday].  What is going to come out of the demonstration, only God knows.  My guess is that they will arrest all the opposition leaders, the civil society activists, etc., put them in jail for maybe [a] couple of hours, or couple of days, since the Interior Minister said they don’t have the right to demonstrate,” Lo said.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Le Pêcheur

If you are a fisherman on the Petite Cote - you are either fishing, selling your fish,  cooking your fish, eating your fish, organizing your nets - OR fixing your fishing boat. A few shots on a walk I took on the beach from the resort.  It was nice to get a glimpse of this since Pierre de Lisse was located between the two fishing villages of Toubab  Dialao and Poupenguine where I'm sure alot more action was taking place.

This Fisherman told me he sold some fish to the resort. I told him perhaps I ate his fish since we had some fish dinners! He seemed pleased.

The Baobab

"The Baobab" - the national tree of Senegal. We've seen them here and there around Dakar but nothing like it until we got out of town - and saw a whole forest from above (at the Accro-Baobab Park) !!

Now perhaps you'll notice there are some large barren patches and not very many - if any small or middle aged like Baobab trees around - that is because as it was explained to us, there are either herds of goats, sheep or cattle in this area noshing on the smallest trees basically stunting or disabling new growth opportunities.

Here's a somewhat grainy cropped zoomed shot from above  of some cattle grazing...

Information I picked up from Wikipedia-

Other common names include boab, boaboa, bottle tree,the tree of life, upside-down tree, and monkey bread tree. The species reach heights of 5 to 30 metres (16 to 98 ft) and trunk diameters of 7 to 11 metres (23 to 36 ft). It's trunk can hold up to 120,000 litres of water. 

The Baobab Tree is also known as the tree of life, with good reason too. It is capable of providing shelter,clothing, food, and water for the animal as well as human inhabitants of the African Savannah regions. The cork-like bark or huge stem is fire resistant and is used for making cloth and rope. The leaves are used as condiments and medicines. The fruit, called "monkey bread", is rich in vitamin C and is eaten. The tree is capable of storing hundreds of litres of water, which is tapped in dry periods. Mature trees are frequently hollow, providing living space for numerous animals and humans alike.  Radio-carbon dating has measured that age of some Baobab trees at over 2,000 years old. For most of the year, the tree is leafless, and looks very much like it has its roots sticking up in the air.  

According to Parker and Addison, once a year during certain months (of which they have forgotten) the trees are covered in large, white, saucer-shaped flowers. These flowers only open at night and are pollinated by bats. The life span of the flower once opened is basically a day and once pollinated produces the large oval-shaped "monkey bread" pods. 

Here's a close up view of the "Monkey Bread" seed pod that is hanging from the branches.

And when harvested and cut open it looks like this

photo from http://flatrock.org.nz

And sold on the streets in little sacs. This comes from the woman who sells outside of Parker and Addison's school. I think she sells each sachet for 50cfa (10 cents). From what I remember in trying them is you pop one in your mouth and suck on it until the white powder dissolves around a little black seed. At that point you  must dispense with the seed. I can't recall I was all that enamored with the taste - but let me tell you about the peanut brittle - in another post!!  When converted to a powder and according to the Baobab Fruit Company "The fruit pulp can be made into a drink when mixed with water or milk, either with or without sugar, or as a supplement to mix with staple food such as corn meal and cassava. Other uses for baobab pulp include sauces for food, hair rinse, milk curdling agent and a sub-stitute for cream of tartar".  Maybe next time you'll recognize "Baobab" in the ingredient list of any food or beauty product you use ;+}

There were clearly alot of birds nests crafted of dry grass and twigs so gracefully interwoven among the branches. Besides what we saw above us we could not ignore these guys Parker and Addison spied upon our departure back to Pierre de Lisse at the bottom of *one* Baobab... trust me we checked other trees to see if they were everywhere but they were not - still -----> EEEEEWWWWW!

I know this makes them bigger because I zoomed in but they were *BIG* in my book - Longhorn beetles (mating apparently). They seemed to be about 4-5cm (1.5-2in) excluding antennae in length and there were a fair number scattered around the base.  Apparently when they find the baobab they like they live around and eat the girdle of the trunk and sadly offer no redeeming quality to the life of the tree.


On a side note I came across this little tid-bit written up by Cynthia Bertelsen   
                           The baobab plays a prominent role in the tale, Le Petit Prince (The Little Prince), by the explorer and pilot, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, which nearly every student of the French language reads at one point or another.

The Planet of Le Petit Prince
The Planet of Le Petit Prince
Now there were some terrible seeds on the planet that was the home of the little prince; and these were the seeds of the baobab. The soil of that planet was infested with them. A baobab is something you will never, never be able to get rid of if you attend to it too late. It spreads over the entire planet. It bores clear through it with its roots. And if the planet is too small, and the baobabs are too many, they split it in pieces … ~~Chapter 5, The Little Prince, by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
Now I am not sure exactly why the Little Prince hated baobabs so much, but it probably had to do with a fear that the roots of the baobab would rip apart the Little Prince’s planet.


Fear not little prince - this is one magical tree!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Flying Through Trees...

with the Greatest of Ease...<sort of>

After about 2 1/2 days of lounging it was time to move a bit, so we arranged for a taxi to take us from Pierre de Lisse to a place 7K away called Accro Baobab Adventure Park -  an obstacle par course among and  through the Baobab trees. Now these trees are so immense they deserve their own post after this one.

There were two courses - based on height -  Parker and Addison were directed to the lower course and Manning and I were directed off to one that was higher up in the trees and as well presented with some challenging transitions between them.  We had done something like this in France during our last home exchange near Toulouse so we were familiar with the concept. I have to add here that before we got started I was thoroughly relieved to see we would be using what would be considered modern equipment - carabiners, belays and harnesses - appropriate climbing gear for what we were doing - okay maybe not top of the line stuff for  El Capitan or Half Dome in Yosemite - but nothing being held together by a paper clip or duct tape like the taxis we find ourselves in.  So basically I had faith that if any of us were to slip in some capacity - we would still be successfully dangling until someone came to our rescue. As well our guide - it was clear was trained in this too - as he gave us the appropriate guidance on how the clips worked and in what order - how to do it - how not to do it -

and he did accompany us along the way, which was different than the course in France - but it was a good thing....

because here I am - yes my legs are dangling-  trying to negotiate my footing on this very difficult section and am holding myself  up with all my upper body strength. Both feet had to be on the wooden bar at the same time to engage in getting your balance. Yet after I got my footing on this one hold - I had twisted myself around on the opposite side and the guide ended up having to rehook my carabiners so I could continue. At the same time we were on the bigger course Parker and Addison were on theirs.


After we finished we thought we would be able to go to the smaller kids course with Parker and Addison. Apparently not. In this park you are only allowed one time through - TOTAL BUMMER. And the price was not worth paying for all of us again - even with the discount they offered up to us. In the courses in France you could go as long as you had the stamina (over and over and over again or until it closed for lunch or the end of the day depending on the time you showed up). It is Africa and things work differently. I suppose people who visit the US say the same thing about something else they have experienced elsewhere.  So in the end we all enjoyed a family photo and some Ataya tea before calling the taxi back to the resort.


 The End of A Great Morning!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

A Petite Vacation on the Petite Cote...

When we first told folks we were making this one year sabbatical move to Dakar - a common response to that was saying ' how incredible it was we were taking on this adventure' but on occasion tacked onto that would be some reference to it 'being a vacation' - and in my mind I would tell myself  and respond in a way that for clarification  "it was not a vacation".  It was not possible to see this move in that way - this was more packing a finite amount of clothes to cover a years worth of time in a limited number of bags, the process of finding and acquiring renters who would also take care of our cat, having wonderful neighbors and friends keeping tabs on the house, managing bills and mail from afar, and of course showing up with no place to live, a bank or phone and major shock with regards to the culture - "no this was not a vacation" to start....

But I'm happy to say after 4 months and working with fervor the first 2 months to adapt and adopt  - we are in a groove now - so much that I could officially deem our 4 day getaway out of Dakar over part of Parker and Addison's Christmas 
school break -  as **a vacation **.  

Here are some descriptions of this section of West Africa's  coast in Senegal - known as the Petite Cote - heavenly setting for succumbing to the pleasures of beach lounging.....The fine sandy white beaches of the Petite Cote are some of the most picturesque in West Africa..... Spend your days lounging around soaking up the radiant African sun. 

So what did we do but follow the lead of  "lounging" descriptions ... at Pierre de Lisse our hotel we booked (thank you Sigrid) - situated between two fishing villages Toubab  Dialao and Poupenguine - in other wards... for 4 luxurious days we were acting or moving lazily, loafing, passing the time idly, basking in the sun, kicking back, lolling, resting, relaxing and listening to the incredible sounds of the ocean waves....

My current book read - Catch 22 - don't ask me why....I think it's because I found it on the shelf at the Berkeley - Friends of the Library Bookstore - and thought perhaps I should add a classic to my stash I was bringing

Current Read - Charlie Bone Series

Current Reads - Parker -DragonRider, Addison - Warrior Series - Fire and Ice

If it appears that the beach and pool are deserted - it's because at times they were! The first day we arrived on Jan 2nd there were a handful more folks but the following day the place really cleared out.  No complaints, mind you, as in my mind from a 'congested' kind of place that Dakar is - this was the "anti-Dakar" in this stretch between the two fishing villages all in a good clean way!!

As I write this - post vacation-  I am hearing the birds chirping madly, the landlords dog barking, taxis tooting, moutons bleating, Senegalese family next door shouting (we hear them a lot because they have this outdoor courtyard/living area they spend a good portion of their time in), kids crying, peoples voices, pounding of concrete on an unfinished building next to us, firecrackers going off (still)- a cacophony of sounds that sometimes can get a bit grating - which leads me back to my paradise on the Petite Cote

 so when we were not lounging - we were eating...

And it was easy to enjoy the food - a simple dish of either - meat, seafood or chicken prepared  with a Senegalese or European flair   We opted for the full pension - breakfast, lunch and dinner - and we're glad we did since we did not have a car to leave and explore other venues - it just made things easier.  Parker and Addison ate every meal and the most surprising to me was they ate the yellow curry calamari dish (not shown) - which at first they said tasted like chicken. Good boys - if  you THINK it tastes like chicken and your eating it - then I won't suggest that it is something other than chicken.

And when we were not eating - time was spent making new friends and body surfing

Boys showing me how to body surf - they are the experts now
Who said you have to look good on vacation when you wake up in the morning - you just have to be relaxed!