They spend much of their time memorizing the Quran. At first, they don’t really understand what they’re saying, but they learn the pronunciation and the learn to sing the verses. They keep practicing until the get it perfect, because they are taught that God’s word is perfection and should not be said imperfectly, either by mixing up the words or mispronouncing them. As time goes on, as they learn Arabic, and as they are taught the doctrine, the children begin to understand what the verses mean.
L’Ile de Gorée is one of the most beautiful places in Senegal. The colorful houses and quaint narrow streets are unbelievably charming. The artisan’s markets are beautiful to browse, and the variety of the handmade art is surprising, given how small the island is. It’s more diverse than most markets in Dakar, at least as far as art and jewelry. In spite of its beauty, Gorée has a dark history. It played a central role in the slave trade out of Africa. At least 100 million slaves passed through Gorée, through the Maison des Esclaves.
The Senegalese are super warm and welcoming. It reminds me a lot of the hospitality in Spanish culture. People are very open and friendly, and willing to invite us into their homes and lives. When I first sat down with Maman Nabou to get to know her and give her some gifts I’d brought, she said, “ici, vous êtes mes filles. Vous êtes comme des membres de la famille, comme si vous étiez mes propres filles,” which translates roughly to, “I consider you members of the family as if you were my own children.”
Dakar looks like a movie set. That is, parts of it are built up and decorated elaborately, while other parts are falling apart. There is sand and dust everywhere, which gives the air a sort of orange glow; it’s kind of beautiful when the sun sets. The days are warm at this time in late April, but the ocean breeze (we’re on the Atlantic coast!) keeps everything cool, though humid. My hair has gotten very curly and I love it.
Brioche suisse: The best French pastry you’ve never heard of. It reminded me a bit of a pain au chocolat, but with even more flavor. I had one this morning and the whole time I was eating it, I just kept thinking, “this is the best thing I have ever eaten.”
Saturday morning, I made my very first attempt at ice fishing, and only my second ever attempt at fishing in general. Please know that while I love to travel and I love nature, I am not an outdoorsy person. I rarely go hiking, I camp even less often, and I have never once been hunting. Still, I’m always down to go on a new adventure! When one of my professors invited a group of my classmates and I to go ice fishing this weekend at Fish Lake in southern Utah, I was the first to sign up.