Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Ile de Goree (accents not included)

On Friday, the last day of our orientation, we visited Ile de Goree.  It's an island off the coast of Dakar where slaves were shipped across the Atlantic.  It is most famous for its Maison des Esclaves, a house built to house slaves on the cold, dirty first floor and slavetraders on the second, nicely-appointed floor.  The island is all of 300 meters wide and 900 long.  No cars, and many flowers.  It's been designated a UNESCO historical site and therefore hasn't been touched in years, leaving the beautiful colors of the houses to fade into even more stunning glory.  And here are the pictures.

a statue celebrating the liberation of slaves

the feet of a fellow study abroad student in the famous doorway that opens out onto the water, 
where in the past there would have been a bridge to ships waiting for their human cargo

Goree is probably the cleanest place in Dakar, 
thanks to a hired team of boys who sweep the island clean every morning

sand artist, at the castle on Goree, at work in his bunker-studio

a view of Dakar through an old archway

Lest you get too pretty a picture, I should also add that Ile de Goree has many sellers (vendeurs) who are pushy about their wares.  "My sister," they say, "come into my shop.  I give you a good price."  And they want you to look, and then to buy.  The attention is so intense that it can interfere with any enjoyment of the place, or relating naturally to the people there.  Because white means wealth, toubabs are always a target for offers and scams.  For instance, when I walk to school, taxis beep at me, just to check whether I want a ride. This wouldn't be so bad except that every third car on the road is a taxi here.  We're starting to learn how to tune it out.


  1. Thirded on the awesome shots.

  2. Thank you, Dounia, for your narrative and the photographs. What an amazing experience! Hats off to you for carrying it off.