Road Notes … Days 12&13

St. Louis, Senegal

Am behind here so am just going to write up some notes to jog memories in the future…

— St. Louis, very attractive old settlement, the first French outpost in West Africa

— On a small, elongated island just a few hundred meters off the mainland, connected by a bridge designed by Eiffel… Actually 2 islands, one right next to the other… one fronting the mainland and the Senegal River, the other, the Atlantic Ocean

— Stay in classic old, rambling, struggling to keep its head above water, but still with lots of pride in it — The Hotel de Poste. Named after the French air mail pilots that would stay there. Place is full of memorablia from those times, tons of pictures, even facsimiles of the ‘days guest log’ with “Poste” next to some of the names. Huge murals of old airplanes, men with flying goggles… the owner must have been fixated on them.

— Eat 2 nights in a row at the La Kora restaurant, fabulous food. Served by two elegant, statuesque Senegalese waitresses and supervised amiably by the French proprietress. Delightful courtyard, jazz music, usually had the place almost to myself.

— Took a ride out to see the beach area… Hundreds of local bathers. Made me think of how beneficial it can be — if one is born into poverty — to be at least on a coastal town with access to a beach like this. At least there’s a place of beauty to escape to. Contrast that with the horror of, for example, the concrete prison with hardly a park in sight, of giant, hot, loud Addis Ababa,

— Set of photography exhibits spread around various buildings around the city. Part of some Art Festival for the month of May and June. I get my ticket and go to several of them, gives me destinations to walk to, and cool places (kind of) to duck into. I’m the only person in most of the venues. Pictures are mostly historical ones of Senegal in the thirties and forties, accompanied with lots of text in French. It’s just the walk I’m after really although I do let each of the young staffers who man the venues know — as they all ask me — that I love Senegal. Which is true.

— Buildings / homes come from the 1700/1800/early 1900s… when the French ruled… Very colorful.

— . Feel very safe here, walk around at night.

— See several young men sitting alone, diligently reading and reciting out loud the Koran…

See here, and many other places, the Muslims stopping when one of the 5 times of daily prayer is called for and, laying out these thin cloths, sometimes right on the sidewalk and kneeling down and prostrating themselves as they recite prayers.

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