Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Spring Break in Casamance

Before the second round of elections we had our spring break.  After many deliberations I decided I was going to go to Casamance, the southern region of Senegal just south of the Gambia.  It is technically still considered a conflict zone because of a separatist-esque movement there so I had to sign a waiver with our research center.  There was nothing to be worried about, however, since we were just going to be staying in Ziguinchor and Cap Skiring.  I invited my brother to come along with us since my family comes from Casamance and he had been wanting to visit some friends and family there.  We took the boat to get there since it was safer and more comfortable than taking a sept-place.  This is the boat:

Tickets for the boat were ridiculously cheap ($20 for a 12 hour boat ride).  I have been working on a blog post on relative prices and other econ things that I will post later.

But, all in all, Casamance was really cool and we got to experience a less touristy version of the region thanks to Joe.  Many men in Casamance drink a lot of palm wine...which, strangely enough, tastes exactly like you're drinking a peanut butter sandwich.  It was nice to see more animals around than one sees in Dakar.  At one point there was a friendly sheep that wouldn't leave our hostel, and there were more cows than people on the beach in Cap Skiring.


Also, being in Zuiginchor reminded me yet again of how cool certain customs are here.  For instance, as we (myself, Joe, and the two other abroad students) were leaving our hostel one day we came across a girl who mentioned that she was looking for some people to chat with.  After grabbing lunch we walked back to her neighborhood and asked around until we found her house.  She then invited us in and we sat around and drank bissap (a hibiscus juice) and talked with her family.  I was trying to explain to Joe how things like that don't really ever happen in the US and how if somebody you just met on the street asked you to come over you might think that was weird and would quite probably decline.  In many ways, it was a week well spent away from Dakar.  Here's a picture of Joe and Ernest (a good friend of Joe's) hanging out outside of Ernest's house.

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