Thursday, April 5, 2012

Weekend in Mbour!

Fode (standing) and Alla (the grand DJ)
Me and one of Alla's nieces
 This post is rather late but four weekends ago my host brother Joe, cousin Fode, and friend Sophie spent the weekend in Mbour.  Sophie is living with my cousin Fode, so the four of us end up spending a lot of time together.  We decided to leave Dakar for a bit to visit Joe's friend Alla who works as a DJ in Mbour, about a two hour drive from Dakar.  In order to get there we took a sept-place, which is basically like a super old station wagon that fits seven passengers.  Finding transportation out of Dakar was easier than I thought.  The way it works is you show up at this place called "the garage."  There is no actual building there but rather just an open spot in the city where tons of busses and cars meet up.  You walk around and ask for a sept place going to the city that you want, and when you find one, you just wait for it to fill up and then you head out.  Pretty simple.  And the ride there only cost three dollars!  If only transportation in the US were like that.

We stayed at Alla's house in Mbour which was far calmer than living here in Dakar.  Alla is a DJ and for one of the evenings he took us to the club that he works at.  I was talking to my wolof professor who happens to have some land in Mbour.  He said that things have become a bit tricky there because of the tourist industry and mentioned that a lot of the young people living there find that they can make some pretty good money on tourism and then don't end up going to/continuing school.  Even the club that Alla worked had many more foreigners than I was used to seeing in Dakar.

On our way home we were stopped three times by the gendarmerie...which was pretty fun.  The police and gendarmerie are not paid super well here and so it makes sense that they stop people in order to get some extra money.  According to my brother, they tend to stop any cars that have passengers or are transporting lots of goods since the chances are good that the drivers of such vehicles will have cash on hand.  They then inspect your vehicle until they can find some reason to say that the driver needs a ticket.  Instead of getting a ticket, the driver slides them some money in a subtle handshake, and you move on.  Luckily for our driver, one of our passengers was a member of the gendarmerie and she stepped out a couple of times when it looked like the officers were demanding too much money.  She would let the driver give them a little bit, but if they asked again she would casually step out and then suddenly things were fine and we were allowed to continue again.

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