We rode past a bunch of microgardens, where the villagers had developed a way to cultivate herbs and some vegetables in the middle of the desert. We passed a desert oasis, complete with palm trees and fresh water. We rode all the way to the beach, which was one of the most beautiful, serene, pure, clean beaches I’ve ever seen. The sand was smooth and white, the water clear and soothing. The setting sun and the ocean mist coated everything with a soft gold halo.
Bissap: Not a dish, but a drink! It’s a strong infusion of hibiscus flowers, made by boiling water, adding dried hibiscus flowers, sealing the container and letting it chill. The Senegalese add plenty of sugar to make it sweet, and often a bit of vanilla. It tastes like the best fruit juice I’ve ever had, though it’s not from a fruit. I plan to buy several sacks of the dried flowers so that I can make some at home.
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.
All the way through high school French, whenever we talked about French Africa, we talked about Dakar. And every time we read a textbook chapter about Dakar, it was accompanied by a photo of the “Porte du Troisième Millénaire, whose name translates to “door of the third millennium.” It’s safe to say it’s pretty important! Built in 2001, it symbolizes the opening of Africa to a new millennium, and represents hope, communication, and unity. You can find it overlooking the ocean along the Corniche-Ouest, by avenue Malick Sy. The views of the ocean are incredible.
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.”
Once I found out that there were essentially secret tunnels underneath the city, filled with bones and other potentially creepy/cool things, I knew I absolutely had to see them for myself. Of course, for safety reasons, the French authorities don’t allow the general public to go snorkeling and exploring on their own in the catacombs. There is, however, a section that is open to people like you or me. I’ve been twice, so it’s safe to say it’s pretty cool.