Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Ile de Goree

On Sunday our CIEE program organized a trip to the Ile de Goree, a touristy-historical site about 1 km off the coast of Dakar. The beauty of the island is breathtaking: lush green plants, sandy beaches, small cliffs beaten by the relentless serf, and colorful Afro-European style buildings defined the isle. Street vendors sold colorful garments and fabrics, and hawked musical instrument and traditional statues.
Our first stop was the infamous Maison des Esclaves, or House of the Enslaved. It was considered the point of no return for African slaves who were to be shipped to America. We toured the tiny holding pens (pictures will be included later) and gazed out at the rocky coast from the balcony of the building. The place had the air of a tropical Alcatraz.
Next stop was the Musee des Femmes, or Women's Museum. It's a private museum designed to commemorate the contribution that African women made and make to their culture.
Then the Musee Historique, or Historical Museum, which documented the History of the Island from it geologic formation to current life.
Finally, my favorite, the Castel. It's the only hill that rises on Goree, and from it, one can view the entirety of the island as well as catch a glimpse of neighboring Dakar. On the hike up, we passed goats and cows chewing on grass on the steep hill. I was taken aback by the fact that Goree farmers use the steep slope to feed their creatures. It seemed like they could fall off at any minute.
To culminate the trip, an enormous thunderstorm broke above our heads as we sipped coffee at the local restaurant. The thunder here is quite terrifying; it almost literally shakes one's bones.

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