Thursday, April 17, 2014

Sarah Stroh: How to Spring Break in Africa

  Senegal is a relatively stable, democratic country in western sub-Saharan Africa. It’s actually the country that has the western-most point on the continent, if anyone was wondering. Although it lacks some key stereotypical qualities of an African country, like warlords, rampant AIDS or famine, and NATO and/or UN troops, Senegal is by no means almost at the first world level. The tap water is not safe to drink, the electricity from time to time goes out, showers are not often (or ever) hot, and the infrastructure is far from built.

My friends and I here in Dakar decided that we wanted to go bold for spring break - bold meaning that we would cross the entire country with our main goal being to see Senegal's tallest waterfall, Dindefelo Falls and go to the wildlife reserve Niokolo-Koba National Park.

Our first major stop was K├ędougou, where we stayed in a cute little encampement and played Scrabble with the old men who ran it in a language that was a mix of French and Wolof. The next night we traveled to the Gambia River to see some hippos, but unfortunately they were not there. Sunday and Monday we visited some Bedik and Bassari villages, which are the main ethnic groups in the region (you may recognize the Bedik people as the ones that wear bones through their noses to show wealth or power). On our way back to our camp, we visited the Peace Corps base and we were able to discuss the Senegalese life with some volunteers! On what seemed like the hottest day (on average about 110 degrees), we climbed Mount Dindefelo, visited a Guinean village that resides on the plateau without passports I might add, and saw the waterfall from above! In all, we walked 14 kilometers in the extreme heat , but we survived !

During phase two of our spring break, we went to Niokolo -Koba National Park. We stayed at Dar Salaam, a small village just outside the park. Although unfortunately while in the park the chances of seeing "big game" like lions or elephants are extremely slim, we still saw hippos, crocodiles, warthogs, monkeys and many, many birds.

Overall the experience was an amazing one, and though I am happy to have returned back to the cleaner, cooler city of Dakar, I will be able to cherish my experiences in rural Senegal forever.
 
Credit for this blog post goes to second-year Global Scholar, Sarah Stroh. To read more about her time abroad in Senegal, visit her blog  http://breakingbeige.wordpress.com/.