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Back in Warang now, it is difficult to digest the enourmous difference between the type of city Dakar is and how the rest of Senegal feels. The contrast couldn't be any larger. Right now, we're not really sure how to frame it yet. But we are sure we enjoy our Warang life compared to what we experienced of Dakar life.

Lac Rose is one of these things that you probably have to see / experience, but it's such a pity the whole place is so pushy on tourists visiting. To some extend, it felt like money was 'pulled out' our pockets while being there. This had a significant influence on our perception and appreciation of the place. In the end, we did get to float in the super salty water though ^_^ Roos didn't enjoy it that much, because the salt caused some tiny skin damage to start aching vigorously.

The next morning (Sunday), we visited the nearby Loman art gallery which had some very nice pieces on display. Afterwards, we drove through the city center and got to see most of the April 4th (Senegalese independence day) preparations. We then drove to Lac Retba aka Lac Rose, paid the 'obligatory' visit there and returned home.

The past weekend we (finally?) visited Dakar. We left Saturday morning at 8AM with Seydou and Ibou (the same crew that joined us to the Casamance). Arrived in Dakar, we visited village des arts and the layen mausoleum. After that we went to Ngor beach and visited the Ngor island. Afterwards dropped our stuff off at our rented apartment and visited the (huge) African renaissance statue.

Roos gets extra French classes during the 'holiday' here. Each Wednesday, Thusrday and Friday a teacher comes by our house and spends an hour together with Roos practicing prononciation (dialogues) and spelling.

Stien made a raft using a blanket, string and empty 10 liter water bottles (of which we have collected a lot during our stay here). First the raft was 9 bottles big, later on it got an upgrade to 16 bottles. The children (and us too) had some good fun already with the raft in our swimming pool.

Last week Liesbeth, Roos and Stien were home because school is closed for two weeks. They spent the week visiting friends and doing activities. One of the highlights was learning how to make traditional Senegalese baskets with straw and plastic string.

Compared to Belgium, a communal project always has to be 'democratically debated' and everyone has to agree with the decisions made ... which, in many cases, slows stuff down and is hard to sustain in the long term. In Senegal, communal sharing is the default - but if issues arise, someone has the right to cut any debate short.

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We talk a lot about how people live more 'communal' over here and why it seems to work here compared to it being so 'forced' back home. A big difference, however, is the hierarchy within families. So although everything is shared in Senegal, there is always someone who has more power over someone else too.

At the end of the evening (around 20h) everyone present got served a meal, in this case : vermicelle agneau for all! With obligatory onion sauce, obviously.

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We saw a ritual where the bride dances and the men of the family give her money. It was interesting and confronting to see the power relationship between men and women at play.
Also, the respect for the elders was good to witness, they are 'in charge' to make sure everything happens as the tradition prescribes.

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Yesterday evening (Friday 22/3) we were invited by Liesbeth's colleague, Daba, to a wedding following the Serer tradition. In fact, the whole wedding lasts 3 days - so we only got to see a small part of it. We did try to integrate as well as possibly by wearing a Senegalese outfit, matching dresses for Liesbeth and Stien, a long robe for Dries and locally made dungarees for Roos.

Last week was the last 'full' week of school for Liesbeth, Roos and Stien. Senegalese schools now have a 2 week holiday. After the holidays, there's only 4 days left before we return home. Time flies, as expected.

Most of the geocaching route went via a new 'touristic development' site ... basically a large plot of land being filled with bungalow style houses, full on 'resort' style. It felt very alien-like to see this happening, but apparently this is how tourism is being developed along 'le petit côte' at the moment.

We (finally?) went geocaching last Saturday. A route of several caches had been waiting for us for a few weeks already, so we set out to find them. Our taxi driver had no idea what we were up to and found it a very weird idea to get out of his car in the middle of nowhere 'to go for a walk'. Our walk ended up at a very nice beach, just north of Pointe Sarène.

At the end of this month school is closed for 2 weeks over here. Somewhat unfortunate for us, since Roos and Stien seem to be getting better integrated right now. But, that's how it goes.

Roos moved back to the CP class today. She seemed to enjoy it, and can now understand the assignments the teacher gives the children.

After 2 months, the speed Roos and Stien are picking up French is increasing rapidly. It's interesting to see how they're evolving after some serious struggles the first few weeks.

Crossing the Farafenni bridge in 14 steps (to or from the Casamance region):
* Drive to the border
* Get a Senegalese exit stamp
* Get a customs form for the car
* Get a Gambian transit visa 💸
* Pay customs for car 💸
* Drive to the Farafenni bridge
* Stop at booth, get a ticket 💸
* Drive to next booth, get ticket stamped
* Drive over bridge
* Leave bridge, get ticket ripped
* Drive to Gambian border
* Get Gambian exit stamp 💸
* Pay customs for car 💸
* Get Senegalese entry stamp
😅

But, on the other hand, seeing and crossing the recently opened Farafenni bridge was nice and interesting. The bridge has a lot of potential for the region, but you can sense that everyone is still discovering how to 'operate' the whole undertaking in practice. This goes from very practial things (eg. buying a ticket, which costs us 3000CFA going one way and 2500CFA when returning) to more substantial things (eg. only allowing person cars or making border crossings difficult)

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Roeckoe 🐦

Home to the Roeckoe family & some friends