Week 5 - Rita

With departure creeping up on us, the group has been enthusiastic about last minute excursions and packing as much into each day as possible. In some ways, it seems like we only stepped off the plane yesterday. In others, we have been here for years at a time. The weekend trip to Goree Island and Gunjur ended our trips within the trip on a good note. The bus ride was long and the roads into Senegal were not bus friendly, but when we got to the island, it was apparent that we had paid a small price. The island is absolutely beautiful. Meditteranean colors decorated the walls of the various museums and homes on the island. The air held a sweet smell from the bright pink flowers and orange that were in bloom. Women selling beads were almost predatory, but I think we were all glad to see the change in merchandise. It was a thrill to be surrounded by french-speaking rastas, although it made communication a little awkward.

For me, though, the best part was the water. The island is planted right on the continental shelf, and Bill told us that marlin tournaments and an array of gamefishing excursions are based on Goree. The water was the blue green invitation that I had seen occasionally in Florida and frequently in travel magazines. The sight of that water and the shells on the beach assured me that this would be a good place to use the mask I had bought for Leybato and Senegambia beaches. The first day, I just swam up and down the protected side of the island (where I would not get pushed into the rocky shoreline by waves).

The second day, Keisha, Jen, Christina and I woke up early and paid way too much to have a pirogue take us around the island and drop us into the water where we could take turns using the mask and goggles for some improvised snorkeling. Parrotfish, angelfish, wrasses, basslets the fish were gorgeous as colorful as the island itself. Our guide lost his shoes on the beach, so he went back in the boat while we swam. By ten, we were tired enough to willingly climb back into the teetering pirogue and go back to the hotel for a shower and snack before boarding the ferry that took us back to Dakar. Mr. Badjie met us there, and we settled in for the long trip back to the Friendship.

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Updated 07/24/00.