Tiny Village Near Dakar

Meisa took us to a little village that immediately was identified as without health care facilities or schools, leading us to think it was a donation opportunity. We were shown around the village by a son of the village chief, who we later met in person. He narrated in Wolof, which Meisa translated for us. We saw how they draw water, how they prepare food, some of their animals, some of their farming. Then, just like so many tours around the world, to the gift shop. The chief's son suddenly switched to French when exotic native time ended and sales time began. After some standard bargaining, we bought a couple…
More

Bandia Wildlife Refuge and Wrestlers

Guide Meisa and driver Mas took us to Bandia park for the day.  Mas is very devout, he was fingering prayer beads and murmuring prayers as he drove.  At a stop, he opened the trunk, got out his prayer rug and bowed toward Mecca. After Bandia, we stopped at the beach at Popenguine.  Kids were practicing wrestling, which is the Senegalese national sport. The Bandia Reserve has many animals roaming freely across a section of savanna of 3500 hectares (about 13 square miles). (more…)
More

St. Louis Fishing

After lunch Saturday, we returned to the center of town where Ismaila put us in the hands of an English-speaking guide and the 12 year old kid who drove a caleche, a horse drawn carriage, furthering our belief that he was looking for his next job. We figured we were in for the standard, kind of boring tour of St. Louis, the original capital of French West Africa, reminiscent of New Orleans. It started out that way as the guide pointed out the first mosque in St. Louis, with a bell because the French didn't like the call to prayer, and an old rusting crane used to unload boats, built…
More

Lunch in a Senegalese Home

Back in St. Louis, Ismaila took us to his house for lunch. We walked into a courtyard where he took us into a room with four women sitting and watching TV. We exchanged greetings and introductions and smiled at each other. One woman was braiding a young girls hair, the unbraided part was a tangled mess. The girl was in some pain, in tears at one point, but the finished part looked really good. Finally mom gave her a break and she left the room. (more…)
More

The Trip Redeems Itself at Djoudj

Friday was the worst day of our trip. Saturday was the best. Ismaila, the guide we met on the boat, who drove us up here to St. Louis, picked us up at the hotel at 8am. He was out on the street and introduced us to Nicholas who was coming with us to the Djoudj bird sanctuary. Turns out Nick is a New Yorker, living in London, who flew to Dakar and came straight to St. Louis. Brave guy drove himself in a rental car. We all piled into a taxi for the 60km drive to the sanctuary which is on the Mauritanian border. (more…)
More
Zigjuinchor, Casamance, Senegal

Now in Ziguinchor

Today we left the coast and drove to Ziguinchor, the capital of Casamance. When we arrived here some days ago, we negotiated a ride both ways with Madi, a nice young taxi driver. We agreed on 20,000cfa, West African Francs (about $40), each way. At the Maya hotel on the coast, Rosine, the hotel owner, told us that was really good, normally we should expect to pay 25-30,000 for that ride. (more…)
More
Diembering, Casamance, Senegal

Diembering

We are staying at a little hotel 2 miles off the main road, which itself is pretty deserted.  Nearby is a village called Diembering. We could almost walk there, but didn't want to just show up and walk around town. So the bartender here at the hotel, Aliou, arranged for a taxi to take us. (more…)
More
On the street in Dakar, Senegal

Senegal After 4 Days

Dakar: There is no reason to go to Dakar. It is a business and government hub for West Africa. Modern, high rise city in the center, surrounded by residential neighborhoods, some slums, but not as much as I would have predicted. Preparing for this trip, we read about touts and hustlers and beggars who won't leave you alone, but it doesn't seem that bad - we have seen these, but after a simple "no, merci" they have all gone away. Maybe because we're older. We found a patisserie where we sat and enjoyed cappuccinos and watching the traffic. [caption id="attachment_90" align="alignnone" width="640"] On the street in Dakar[/caption] Then we walked…
More

Why Africa?

Why Senegal? West African culture has contributed a lot to the Americas.  I see it in everyday life and in travels around Latin America and especially the Caribbean.  I wanted to see what it was like first-hand. (more…)
More

Istanbul – Shopping

A few short blocks away from the Istanbul Hippodrome is the Grand Bazaar, supposedly with 8000 shops. We were expecting / hoping for a rat’s nest of confusing narrow alleys packed with vendors selling all sorts of stuff. Like this: (Souk in Tunis) But instead we found a shopping mall: We did stop in to a leather shop, where Maria tried on some really beautiful red and black leather jackets, but could not find a size that worked. Upon exiting, we got a little bit of half-hearted hustling from the other leather vendors, but not the true Middle-Eastern harassment that is really part of the experience. We headed straight for…
More

Istanbul – Sultanahmet

We stayed just behind the Blue Mosque on a quiet side street, at the Kaftan Hotel. The location was great, an easy walk to the main sites, in a neighborhood with lots of restaurants and shops, yet on a quiet side street, so we didn’t get a lot of the racket we would have had we stayed in one of the many other nearby hotels. We were in Istanbul for 5 days and didn’t see everything we wanted to. We spent most of our time within walking distance of our hotel – there is a LOT to see all packed into a small area. The Blue Mosque and Hagia Sofia are…
More

Cappadocia

Upon arrival at Ataturk Airport in Istanbul, we hung around the domestic terminal for 5 hours to catch a flight to Cappadocia. Cappadocia is pretty rural, with beautiful landscapes that reminded us of Bryce Canyon in Utah. Instead of sandstone, the rocks are volcanic ash, not nearly as colorful, but the erosion effect is similar, as the “fairy chimneys” are eroded out of the surrounding material by the wind and rain. We stayed at the Cave Hotel Saksağan in Göreme. This was a cave room in a fairy chimney.    They arranged a rental car, so we were able to drive away from the Disney-esque bus crowds and see the region on our own.…
More

Saint Martin, April, 2011

Maria was the number 1 salesperson in her group again last year, so we got to go to St. Martin on Iron Mountain. The event was from Thursday to Sunday; we traded our timeshare so we could go down the previous Sunday for some real vacation. We stayed on the Dutch side at Cupecoy. We rented a little Hyundai from a guy who met us at the airport. Windows down, we rolled off at 30 mph. Over the next several days, we went from beach to beach and dined on fabulous French cuisine. The awards festivities were very nice, though our hosts couldn’t be there (as it turns out they…
More

Tiny Village Near Dakar

Meisa took us to a little village that immediately was identified as without health care facilities or schools, leading us to think it was a donation opportunity. We were shown around the village by a son of the village chief, who we later met in person. He narrated in Wolof, which Meisa translated for us. We saw how they draw water, how they prepare food, some of their animals, some of their farming. Then, just like so many tours around the world, to the gift shop. The chief's son suddenly switched to French when exotic native time ended and sales time began. After some standard bargaining, we bought a couple…
More

Bandia Wildlife Refuge and Wrestlers

Guide Meisa and driver Mas took us to Bandia park for the day.  Mas is very devout, he was fingering prayer beads and murmuring prayers as he drove.  At a stop, he opened the trunk, got out his prayer rug and bowed toward Mecca. After Bandia, we stopped at the beach at Popenguine.  Kids were practicing wrestling, which is the Senegalese national sport. The Bandia Reserve has many animals roaming freely across a section of savanna of 3500 hectares (about 13 square miles). (more…)
More

St. Louis Fishing

After lunch Saturday, we returned to the center of town where Ismaila put us in the hands of an English-speaking guide and the 12 year old kid who drove a caleche, a horse drawn carriage, furthering our belief that he was looking for his next job. We figured we were in for the standard, kind of boring tour of St. Louis, the original capital of French West Africa, reminiscent of New Orleans. It started out that way as the guide pointed out the first mosque in St. Louis, with a bell because the French didn't like the call to prayer, and an old rusting crane used to unload boats, built…
More

Lunch in a Senegalese Home

Back in St. Louis, Ismaila took us to his house for lunch. We walked into a courtyard where he took us into a room with four women sitting and watching TV. We exchanged greetings and introductions and smiled at each other. One woman was braiding a young girls hair, the unbraided part was a tangled mess. The girl was in some pain, in tears at one point, but the finished part looked really good. Finally mom gave her a break and she left the room. (more…)
More

The Trip Redeems Itself at Djoudj

Friday was the worst day of our trip. Saturday was the best. Ismaila, the guide we met on the boat, who drove us up here to St. Louis, picked us up at the hotel at 8am. He was out on the street and introduced us to Nicholas who was coming with us to the Djoudj bird sanctuary. Turns out Nick is a New Yorker, living in London, who flew to Dakar and came straight to St. Louis. Brave guy drove himself in a rental car. We all piled into a taxi for the 60km drive to the sanctuary which is on the Mauritanian border. (more…)
More
Zigjuinchor, Casamance, Senegal

Now in Ziguinchor

Today we left the coast and drove to Ziguinchor, the capital of Casamance. When we arrived here some days ago, we negotiated a ride both ways with Madi, a nice young taxi driver. We agreed on 20,000cfa, West African Francs (about $40), each way. At the Maya hotel on the coast, Rosine, the hotel owner, told us that was really good, normally we should expect to pay 25-30,000 for that ride. (more…)
More
Diembering, Casamance, Senegal

Diembering

We are staying at a little hotel 2 miles off the main road, which itself is pretty deserted.  Nearby is a village called Diembering. We could almost walk there, but didn't want to just show up and walk around town. So the bartender here at the hotel, Aliou, arranged for a taxi to take us. (more…)
More
On the street in Dakar, Senegal

Senegal After 4 Days

Dakar: There is no reason to go to Dakar. It is a business and government hub for West Africa. Modern, high rise city in the center, surrounded by residential neighborhoods, some slums, but not as much as I would have predicted. Preparing for this trip, we read about touts and hustlers and beggars who won't leave you alone, but it doesn't seem that bad - we have seen these, but after a simple "no, merci" they have all gone away. Maybe because we're older. We found a patisserie where we sat and enjoyed cappuccinos and watching the traffic. [caption id="attachment_90" align="alignnone" width="640"] On the street in Dakar[/caption] Then we walked…
More

Why Africa?

Why Senegal? West African culture has contributed a lot to the Americas.  I see it in everyday life and in travels around Latin America and especially the Caribbean.  I wanted to see what it was like first-hand. (more…)
More

Istanbul – Shopping

A few short blocks away from the Istanbul Hippodrome is the Grand Bazaar, supposedly with 8000 shops. We were expecting / hoping for a rat’s nest of confusing narrow alleys packed with vendors selling all sorts of stuff. Like this: (Souk in Tunis) But instead we found a shopping mall: We did stop in to a leather shop, where Maria tried on some really beautiful red and black leather jackets, but could not find a size that worked. Upon exiting, we got a little bit of half-hearted hustling from the other leather vendors, but not the true Middle-Eastern harassment that is really part of the experience. We headed straight for…
More

Istanbul – Sultanahmet

We stayed just behind the Blue Mosque on a quiet side street, at the Kaftan Hotel. The location was great, an easy walk to the main sites, in a neighborhood with lots of restaurants and shops, yet on a quiet side street, so we didn’t get a lot of the racket we would have had we stayed in one of the many other nearby hotels. We were in Istanbul for 5 days and didn’t see everything we wanted to. We spent most of our time within walking distance of our hotel – there is a LOT to see all packed into a small area. The Blue Mosque and Hagia Sofia are…
More

Cappadocia

Upon arrival at Ataturk Airport in Istanbul, we hung around the domestic terminal for 5 hours to catch a flight to Cappadocia. Cappadocia is pretty rural, with beautiful landscapes that reminded us of Bryce Canyon in Utah. Instead of sandstone, the rocks are volcanic ash, not nearly as colorful, but the erosion effect is similar, as the “fairy chimneys” are eroded out of the surrounding material by the wind and rain. We stayed at the Cave Hotel Saksağan in Göreme. This was a cave room in a fairy chimney.    They arranged a rental car, so we were able to drive away from the Disney-esque bus crowds and see the region on our own.…
More

Saint Martin, April, 2011

Maria was the number 1 salesperson in her group again last year, so we got to go to St. Martin on Iron Mountain. The event was from Thursday to Sunday; we traded our timeshare so we could go down the previous Sunday for some real vacation. We stayed on the Dutch side at Cupecoy. We rented a little Hyundai from a guy who met us at the airport. Windows down, we rolled off at 30 mph. Over the next several days, we went from beach to beach and dined on fabulous French cuisine. The awards festivities were very nice, though our hosts couldn’t be there (as it turns out they…
More

Tiny Village Near Dakar

Meisa took us to a little village that immediately was identified as without health care facilities or schools, leading us to think it was a donation opportunity. We were shown around the village by a son of the village chief, who we later met in person. He narrated in Wolof, which Meisa translated for us. We saw how they draw water, how they prepare food, some of their animals, some of their farming. Then, just like so many tours around the world, to the gift shop. The chief's son suddenly switched to French when exotic native time ended and sales time began. After some standard bargaining, we bought a couple…
More

Bandia Wildlife Refuge and Wrestlers

Guide Meisa and driver Mas took us to Bandia park for the day.  Mas is very devout, he was fingering prayer beads and murmuring prayers as he drove.  At a stop, he opened the trunk, got out his prayer rug and bowed toward Mecca. After Bandia, we stopped at the beach at Popenguine.  Kids were practicing wrestling, which is the Senegalese national sport. The Bandia Reserve has many animals roaming freely across a section of savanna of 3500 hectares (about 13 square miles). (more…)
More

St. Louis Fishing

After lunch Saturday, we returned to the center of town where Ismaila put us in the hands of an English-speaking guide and the 12 year old kid who drove a caleche, a horse drawn carriage, furthering our belief that he was looking for his next job. We figured we were in for the standard, kind of boring tour of St. Louis, the original capital of French West Africa, reminiscent of New Orleans. It started out that way as the guide pointed out the first mosque in St. Louis, with a bell because the French didn't like the call to prayer, and an old rusting crane used to unload boats, built…
More

Lunch in a Senegalese Home

Back in St. Louis, Ismaila took us to his house for lunch. We walked into a courtyard where he took us into a room with four women sitting and watching TV. We exchanged greetings and introductions and smiled at each other. One woman was braiding a young girls hair, the unbraided part was a tangled mess. The girl was in some pain, in tears at one point, but the finished part looked really good. Finally mom gave her a break and she left the room. (more…)
More

The Trip Redeems Itself at Djoudj

Friday was the worst day of our trip. Saturday was the best. Ismaila, the guide we met on the boat, who drove us up here to St. Louis, picked us up at the hotel at 8am. He was out on the street and introduced us to Nicholas who was coming with us to the Djoudj bird sanctuary. Turns out Nick is a New Yorker, living in London, who flew to Dakar and came straight to St. Louis. Brave guy drove himself in a rental car. We all piled into a taxi for the 60km drive to the sanctuary which is on the Mauritanian border. (more…)
More
Zigjuinchor, Casamance, Senegal

Now in Ziguinchor

Today we left the coast and drove to Ziguinchor, the capital of Casamance. When we arrived here some days ago, we negotiated a ride both ways with Madi, a nice young taxi driver. We agreed on 20,000cfa, West African Francs (about $40), each way. At the Maya hotel on the coast, Rosine, the hotel owner, told us that was really good, normally we should expect to pay 25-30,000 for that ride. (more…)
More
Diembering, Casamance, Senegal

Diembering

We are staying at a little hotel 2 miles off the main road, which itself is pretty deserted.  Nearby is a village called Diembering. We could almost walk there, but didn't want to just show up and walk around town. So the bartender here at the hotel, Aliou, arranged for a taxi to take us. (more…)
More
On the street in Dakar, Senegal

Senegal After 4 Days

Dakar: There is no reason to go to Dakar. It is a business and government hub for West Africa. Modern, high rise city in the center, surrounded by residential neighborhoods, some slums, but not as much as I would have predicted. Preparing for this trip, we read about touts and hustlers and beggars who won't leave you alone, but it doesn't seem that bad - we have seen these, but after a simple "no, merci" they have all gone away. Maybe because we're older. We found a patisserie where we sat and enjoyed cappuccinos and watching the traffic. [caption id="attachment_90" align="alignnone" width="640"] On the street in Dakar[/caption] Then we walked…
More

Why Africa?

Why Senegal? West African culture has contributed a lot to the Americas.  I see it in everyday life and in travels around Latin America and especially the Caribbean.  I wanted to see what it was like first-hand. (more…)
More

Istanbul – Shopping

A few short blocks away from the Istanbul Hippodrome is the Grand Bazaar, supposedly with 8000 shops. We were expecting / hoping for a rat’s nest of confusing narrow alleys packed with vendors selling all sorts of stuff. Like this: (Souk in Tunis) But instead we found a shopping mall: We did stop in to a leather shop, where Maria tried on some really beautiful red and black leather jackets, but could not find a size that worked. Upon exiting, we got a little bit of half-hearted hustling from the other leather vendors, but not the true Middle-Eastern harassment that is really part of the experience. We headed straight for…
More

Istanbul – Sultanahmet

We stayed just behind the Blue Mosque on a quiet side street, at the Kaftan Hotel. The location was great, an easy walk to the main sites, in a neighborhood with lots of restaurants and shops, yet on a quiet side street, so we didn’t get a lot of the racket we would have had we stayed in one of the many other nearby hotels. We were in Istanbul for 5 days and didn’t see everything we wanted to. We spent most of our time within walking distance of our hotel – there is a LOT to see all packed into a small area. The Blue Mosque and Hagia Sofia are…
More

Cappadocia

Upon arrival at Ataturk Airport in Istanbul, we hung around the domestic terminal for 5 hours to catch a flight to Cappadocia. Cappadocia is pretty rural, with beautiful landscapes that reminded us of Bryce Canyon in Utah. Instead of sandstone, the rocks are volcanic ash, not nearly as colorful, but the erosion effect is similar, as the “fairy chimneys” are eroded out of the surrounding material by the wind and rain. We stayed at the Cave Hotel Saksağan in Göreme. This was a cave room in a fairy chimney.    They arranged a rental car, so we were able to drive away from the Disney-esque bus crowds and see the region on our own.…
More

Saint Martin, April, 2011

Maria was the number 1 salesperson in her group again last year, so we got to go to St. Martin on Iron Mountain. The event was from Thursday to Sunday; we traded our timeshare so we could go down the previous Sunday for some real vacation. We stayed on the Dutch side at Cupecoy. We rented a little Hyundai from a guy who met us at the airport. Windows down, we rolled off at 30 mph. Over the next several days, we went from beach to beach and dined on fabulous French cuisine. The awards festivities were very nice, though our hosts couldn’t be there (as it turns out they…
More

Tiny Village Near Dakar

Meisa took us to a little village that immediately was identified as without health care facilities or schools, leading us to think it was a donation opportunity. We were shown around the village by a son of the village chief, who we later met in person. He narrated in Wolof, which Meisa translated for us. We saw how they draw water, how they prepare food, some of their animals, some of their farming. Then, just like so many tours around the world, to the gift shop. The chief's son suddenly switched to French when exotic native time ended and sales time began. After some standard bargaining, we bought a couple…
More

Bandia Wildlife Refuge and Wrestlers

Guide Meisa and driver Mas took us to Bandia park for the day.  Mas is very devout, he was fingering prayer beads and murmuring prayers as he drove.  At a stop, he opened the trunk, got out his prayer rug and bowed toward Mecca. After Bandia, we stopped at the beach at Popenguine.  Kids were practicing wrestling, which is the Senegalese national sport. The Bandia Reserve has many animals roaming freely across a section of savanna of 3500 hectares (about 13 square miles). (more…)
More

St. Louis Fishing

After lunch Saturday, we returned to the center of town where Ismaila put us in the hands of an English-speaking guide and the 12 year old kid who drove a caleche, a horse drawn carriage, furthering our belief that he was looking for his next job. We figured we were in for the standard, kind of boring tour of St. Louis, the original capital of French West Africa, reminiscent of New Orleans. It started out that way as the guide pointed out the first mosque in St. Louis, with a bell because the French didn't like the call to prayer, and an old rusting crane used to unload boats, built…
More

Lunch in a Senegalese Home

Back in St. Louis, Ismaila took us to his house for lunch. We walked into a courtyard where he took us into a room with four women sitting and watching TV. We exchanged greetings and introductions and smiled at each other. One woman was braiding a young girls hair, the unbraided part was a tangled mess. The girl was in some pain, in tears at one point, but the finished part looked really good. Finally mom gave her a break and she left the room. (more…)
More

The Trip Redeems Itself at Djoudj

Friday was the worst day of our trip. Saturday was the best. Ismaila, the guide we met on the boat, who drove us up here to St. Louis, picked us up at the hotel at 8am. He was out on the street and introduced us to Nicholas who was coming with us to the Djoudj bird sanctuary. Turns out Nick is a New Yorker, living in London, who flew to Dakar and came straight to St. Louis. Brave guy drove himself in a rental car. We all piled into a taxi for the 60km drive to the sanctuary which is on the Mauritanian border. (more…)
More
Zigjuinchor, Casamance, Senegal

Now in Ziguinchor

Today we left the coast and drove to Ziguinchor, the capital of Casamance. When we arrived here some days ago, we negotiated a ride both ways with Madi, a nice young taxi driver. We agreed on 20,000cfa, West African Francs (about $40), each way. At the Maya hotel on the coast, Rosine, the hotel owner, told us that was really good, normally we should expect to pay 25-30,000 for that ride. (more…)
More
Diembering, Casamance, Senegal

Diembering

We are staying at a little hotel 2 miles off the main road, which itself is pretty deserted.  Nearby is a village called Diembering. We could almost walk there, but didn't want to just show up and walk around town. So the bartender here at the hotel, Aliou, arranged for a taxi to take us. (more…)
More
On the street in Dakar, Senegal

Senegal After 4 Days

Dakar: There is no reason to go to Dakar. It is a business and government hub for West Africa. Modern, high rise city in the center, surrounded by residential neighborhoods, some slums, but not as much as I would have predicted. Preparing for this trip, we read about touts and hustlers and beggars who won't leave you alone, but it doesn't seem that bad - we have seen these, but after a simple "no, merci" they have all gone away. Maybe because we're older. We found a patisserie where we sat and enjoyed cappuccinos and watching the traffic. [caption id="attachment_90" align="alignnone" width="640"] On the street in Dakar[/caption] Then we walked…
More

Why Africa?

Why Senegal? West African culture has contributed a lot to the Americas.  I see it in everyday life and in travels around Latin America and especially the Caribbean.  I wanted to see what it was like first-hand. (more…)
More

Istanbul – Shopping

A few short blocks away from the Istanbul Hippodrome is the Grand Bazaar, supposedly with 8000 shops. We were expecting / hoping for a rat’s nest of confusing narrow alleys packed with vendors selling all sorts of stuff. Like this: (Souk in Tunis) But instead we found a shopping mall: We did stop in to a leather shop, where Maria tried on some really beautiful red and black leather jackets, but could not find a size that worked. Upon exiting, we got a little bit of half-hearted hustling from the other leather vendors, but not the true Middle-Eastern harassment that is really part of the experience. We headed straight for…
More

Istanbul – Sultanahmet

We stayed just behind the Blue Mosque on a quiet side street, at the Kaftan Hotel. The location was great, an easy walk to the main sites, in a neighborhood with lots of restaurants and shops, yet on a quiet side street, so we didn’t get a lot of the racket we would have had we stayed in one of the many other nearby hotels. We were in Istanbul for 5 days and didn’t see everything we wanted to. We spent most of our time within walking distance of our hotel – there is a LOT to see all packed into a small area. The Blue Mosque and Hagia Sofia are…
More

Cappadocia

Upon arrival at Ataturk Airport in Istanbul, we hung around the domestic terminal for 5 hours to catch a flight to Cappadocia. Cappadocia is pretty rural, with beautiful landscapes that reminded us of Bryce Canyon in Utah. Instead of sandstone, the rocks are volcanic ash, not nearly as colorful, but the erosion effect is similar, as the “fairy chimneys” are eroded out of the surrounding material by the wind and rain. We stayed at the Cave Hotel Saksağan in Göreme. This was a cave room in a fairy chimney.    They arranged a rental car, so we were able to drive away from the Disney-esque bus crowds and see the region on our own.…
More

Saint Martin, April, 2011

Maria was the number 1 salesperson in her group again last year, so we got to go to St. Martin on Iron Mountain. The event was from Thursday to Sunday; we traded our timeshare so we could go down the previous Sunday for some real vacation. We stayed on the Dutch side at Cupecoy. We rented a little Hyundai from a guy who met us at the airport. Windows down, we rolled off at 30 mph. Over the next several days, we went from beach to beach and dined on fabulous French cuisine. The awards festivities were very nice, though our hosts couldn’t be there (as it turns out they…
More

Tiny Village Near Dakar

Meisa took us to a little village that immediately was identified as without health care facilities or schools, leading us to think it was a donation opportunity. We were shown around the village by a son of the village chief, who we later met in person. He narrated in Wolof, which Meisa translated for us. We saw how they draw water, how they prepare food, some of their animals, some of their farming. Then, just like so many tours around the world, to the gift shop. The chief's son suddenly switched to French when exotic native time ended and sales time began. After some standard bargaining, we bought a couple…
More

Bandia Wildlife Refuge and Wrestlers

Guide Meisa and driver Mas took us to Bandia park for the day.  Mas is very devout, he was fingering prayer beads and murmuring prayers as he drove.  At a stop, he opened the trunk, got out his prayer rug and bowed toward Mecca. After Bandia, we stopped at the beach at Popenguine.  Kids were practicing wrestling, which is the Senegalese national sport. The Bandia Reserve has many animals roaming freely across a section of savanna of 3500 hectares (about 13 square miles). (more…)
More

St. Louis Fishing

After lunch Saturday, we returned to the center of town where Ismaila put us in the hands of an English-speaking guide and the 12 year old kid who drove a caleche, a horse drawn carriage, furthering our belief that he was looking for his next job. We figured we were in for the standard, kind of boring tour of St. Louis, the original capital of French West Africa, reminiscent of New Orleans. It started out that way as the guide pointed out the first mosque in St. Louis, with a bell because the French didn't like the call to prayer, and an old rusting crane used to unload boats, built…
More

Lunch in a Senegalese Home

Back in St. Louis, Ismaila took us to his house for lunch. We walked into a courtyard where he took us into a room with four women sitting and watching TV. We exchanged greetings and introductions and smiled at each other. One woman was braiding a young girls hair, the unbraided part was a tangled mess. The girl was in some pain, in tears at one point, but the finished part looked really good. Finally mom gave her a break and she left the room. (more…)
More

The Trip Redeems Itself at Djoudj

Friday was the worst day of our trip. Saturday was the best. Ismaila, the guide we met on the boat, who drove us up here to St. Louis, picked us up at the hotel at 8am. He was out on the street and introduced us to Nicholas who was coming with us to the Djoudj bird sanctuary. Turns out Nick is a New Yorker, living in London, who flew to Dakar and came straight to St. Louis. Brave guy drove himself in a rental car. We all piled into a taxi for the 60km drive to the sanctuary which is on the Mauritanian border. (more…)
More
Zigjuinchor, Casamance, Senegal

Now in Ziguinchor

Today we left the coast and drove to Ziguinchor, the capital of Casamance. When we arrived here some days ago, we negotiated a ride both ways with Madi, a nice young taxi driver. We agreed on 20,000cfa, West African Francs (about $40), each way. At the Maya hotel on the coast, Rosine, the hotel owner, told us that was really good, normally we should expect to pay 25-30,000 for that ride. (more…)
More
Diembering, Casamance, Senegal

Diembering

We are staying at a little hotel 2 miles off the main road, which itself is pretty deserted.  Nearby is a village called Diembering. We could almost walk there, but didn't want to just show up and walk around town. So the bartender here at the hotel, Aliou, arranged for a taxi to take us. (more…)
More
On the street in Dakar, Senegal

Senegal After 4 Days

Dakar: There is no reason to go to Dakar. It is a business and government hub for West Africa. Modern, high rise city in the center, surrounded by residential neighborhoods, some slums, but not as much as I would have predicted. Preparing for this trip, we read about touts and hustlers and beggars who won't leave you alone, but it doesn't seem that bad - we have seen these, but after a simple "no, merci" they have all gone away. Maybe because we're older. We found a patisserie where we sat and enjoyed cappuccinos and watching the traffic. [caption id="attachment_90" align="alignnone" width="640"] On the street in Dakar[/caption] Then we walked…
More

Why Africa?

Why Senegal? West African culture has contributed a lot to the Americas.  I see it in everyday life and in travels around Latin America and especially the Caribbean.  I wanted to see what it was like first-hand. (more…)
More

Istanbul – Shopping

A few short blocks away from the Istanbul Hippodrome is the Grand Bazaar, supposedly with 8000 shops. We were expecting / hoping for a rat’s nest of confusing narrow alleys packed with vendors selling all sorts of stuff. Like this: (Souk in Tunis) But instead we found a shopping mall: We did stop in to a leather shop, where Maria tried on some really beautiful red and black leather jackets, but could not find a size that worked. Upon exiting, we got a little bit of half-hearted hustling from the other leather vendors, but not the true Middle-Eastern harassment that is really part of the experience. We headed straight for…
More

Istanbul – Sultanahmet

We stayed just behind the Blue Mosque on a quiet side street, at the Kaftan Hotel. The location was great, an easy walk to the main sites, in a neighborhood with lots of restaurants and shops, yet on a quiet side street, so we didn’t get a lot of the racket we would have had we stayed in one of the many other nearby hotels. We were in Istanbul for 5 days and didn’t see everything we wanted to. We spent most of our time within walking distance of our hotel – there is a LOT to see all packed into a small area. The Blue Mosque and Hagia Sofia are…
More

Cappadocia

Upon arrival at Ataturk Airport in Istanbul, we hung around the domestic terminal for 5 hours to catch a flight to Cappadocia. Cappadocia is pretty rural, with beautiful landscapes that reminded us of Bryce Canyon in Utah. Instead of sandstone, the rocks are volcanic ash, not nearly as colorful, but the erosion effect is similar, as the “fairy chimneys” are eroded out of the surrounding material by the wind and rain. We stayed at the Cave Hotel Saksağan in Göreme. This was a cave room in a fairy chimney.    They arranged a rental car, so we were able to drive away from the Disney-esque bus crowds and see the region on our own.…
More

Saint Martin, April, 2011

Maria was the number 1 salesperson in her group again last year, so we got to go to St. Martin on Iron Mountain. The event was from Thursday to Sunday; we traded our timeshare so we could go down the previous Sunday for some real vacation. We stayed on the Dutch side at Cupecoy. We rented a little Hyundai from a guy who met us at the airport. Windows down, we rolled off at 30 mph. Over the next several days, we went from beach to beach and dined on fabulous French cuisine. The awards festivities were very nice, though our hosts couldn’t be there (as it turns out they…
More

Tiny Village Near Dakar

Meisa took us to a little village that immediately was identified as without health care facilities or schools, leading us to think it was a donation opportunity. We were shown around the village by a son of the village chief, who we later met in person. He narrated in Wolof, which Meisa translated for us. We saw how they draw water, how they prepare food, some of their animals, some of their farming. Then, just like so many tours around the world, to the gift shop. The chief's son suddenly switched to French when exotic native time ended and sales time began. After some standard bargaining, we bought a couple…
More

Bandia Wildlife Refuge and Wrestlers

Guide Meisa and driver Mas took us to Bandia park for the day.  Mas is very devout, he was fingering prayer beads and murmuring prayers as he drove.  At a stop, he opened the trunk, got out his prayer rug and bowed toward Mecca. After Bandia, we stopped at the beach at Popenguine.  Kids were practicing wrestling, which is the Senegalese national sport. The Bandia Reserve has many animals roaming freely across a section of savanna of 3500 hectares (about 13 square miles). (more…)
More

St. Louis Fishing

After lunch Saturday, we returned to the center of town where Ismaila put us in the hands of an English-speaking guide and the 12 year old kid who drove a caleche, a horse drawn carriage, furthering our belief that he was looking for his next job. We figured we were in for the standard, kind of boring tour of St. Louis, the original capital of French West Africa, reminiscent of New Orleans. It started out that way as the guide pointed out the first mosque in St. Louis, with a bell because the French didn't like the call to prayer, and an old rusting crane used to unload boats, built…
More

Lunch in a Senegalese Home

Back in St. Louis, Ismaila took us to his house for lunch. We walked into a courtyard where he took us into a room with four women sitting and watching TV. We exchanged greetings and introductions and smiled at each other. One woman was braiding a young girls hair, the unbraided part was a tangled mess. The girl was in some pain, in tears at one point, but the finished part looked really good. Finally mom gave her a break and she left the room. (more…)
More

The Trip Redeems Itself at Djoudj

Friday was the worst day of our trip. Saturday was the best. Ismaila, the guide we met on the boat, who drove us up here to St. Louis, picked us up at the hotel at 8am. He was out on the street and introduced us to Nicholas who was coming with us to the Djoudj bird sanctuary. Turns out Nick is a New Yorker, living in London, who flew to Dakar and came straight to St. Louis. Brave guy drove himself in a rental car. We all piled into a taxi for the 60km drive to the sanctuary which is on the Mauritanian border. (more…)
More
Zigjuinchor, Casamance, Senegal

Now in Ziguinchor

Today we left the coast and drove to Ziguinchor, the capital of Casamance. When we arrived here some days ago, we negotiated a ride both ways with Madi, a nice young taxi driver. We agreed on 20,000cfa, West African Francs (about $40), each way. At the Maya hotel on the coast, Rosine, the hotel owner, told us that was really good, normally we should expect to pay 25-30,000 for that ride. (more…)
More
Diembering, Casamance, Senegal

Diembering

We are staying at a little hotel 2 miles off the main road, which itself is pretty deserted.  Nearby is a village called Diembering. We could almost walk there, but didn't want to just show up and walk around town. So the bartender here at the hotel, Aliou, arranged for a taxi to take us. (more…)
More
On the street in Dakar, Senegal

Senegal After 4 Days

Dakar: There is no reason to go to Dakar. It is a business and government hub for West Africa. Modern, high rise city in the center, surrounded by residential neighborhoods, some slums, but not as much as I would have predicted. Preparing for this trip, we read about touts and hustlers and beggars who won't leave you alone, but it doesn't seem that bad - we have seen these, but after a simple "no, merci" they have all gone away. Maybe because we're older. We found a patisserie where we sat and enjoyed cappuccinos and watching the traffic. [caption id="attachment_90" align="alignnone" width="640"] On the street in Dakar[/caption] Then we walked…
More

Why Africa?

Why Senegal? West African culture has contributed a lot to the Americas.  I see it in everyday life and in travels around Latin America and especially the Caribbean.  I wanted to see what it was like first-hand. (more…)
More

Istanbul – Shopping

A few short blocks away from the Istanbul Hippodrome is the Grand Bazaar, supposedly with 8000 shops. We were expecting / hoping for a rat’s nest of confusing narrow alleys packed with vendors selling all sorts of stuff. Like this: (Souk in Tunis) But instead we found a shopping mall: We did stop in to a leather shop, where Maria tried on some really beautiful red and black leather jackets, but could not find a size that worked. Upon exiting, we got a little bit of half-hearted hustling from the other leather vendors, but not the true Middle-Eastern harassment that is really part of the experience. We headed straight for…
More

Istanbul – Sultanahmet

We stayed just behind the Blue Mosque on a quiet side street, at the Kaftan Hotel. The location was great, an easy walk to the main sites, in a neighborhood with lots of restaurants and shops, yet on a quiet side street, so we didn’t get a lot of the racket we would have had we stayed in one of the many other nearby hotels. We were in Istanbul for 5 days and didn’t see everything we wanted to. We spent most of our time within walking distance of our hotel – there is a LOT to see all packed into a small area. The Blue Mosque and Hagia Sofia are…
More

Cappadocia

Upon arrival at Ataturk Airport in Istanbul, we hung around the domestic terminal for 5 hours to catch a flight to Cappadocia. Cappadocia is pretty rural, with beautiful landscapes that reminded us of Bryce Canyon in Utah. Instead of sandstone, the rocks are volcanic ash, not nearly as colorful, but the erosion effect is similar, as the “fairy chimneys” are eroded out of the surrounding material by the wind and rain. We stayed at the Cave Hotel Saksağan in Göreme. This was a cave room in a fairy chimney.    They arranged a rental car, so we were able to drive away from the Disney-esque bus crowds and see the region on our own.…
More

Saint Martin, April, 2011

Maria was the number 1 salesperson in her group again last year, so we got to go to St. Martin on Iron Mountain. The event was from Thursday to Sunday; we traded our timeshare so we could go down the previous Sunday for some real vacation. We stayed on the Dutch side at Cupecoy. We rented a little Hyundai from a guy who met us at the airport. Windows down, we rolled off at 30 mph. Over the next several days, we went from beach to beach and dined on fabulous French cuisine. The awards festivities were very nice, though our hosts couldn’t be there (as it turns out they…
More

Tiny Village Near Dakar

Meisa took us to a little village that immediately was identified as without health care facilities or schools, leading us to think it was a donation opportunity. We were shown around the village by a son of the village chief, who we later met in person. He narrated in Wolof, which Meisa translated for us. We saw how they draw water, how they prepare food, some of their animals, some of their farming. Then, just like so many tours around the world, to the gift shop. The chief's son suddenly switched to French when exotic native time ended and sales time began. After some standard bargaining, we bought a couple…
More

Bandia Wildlife Refuge and Wrestlers

Guide Meisa and driver Mas took us to Bandia park for the day.  Mas is very devout, he was fingering prayer beads and murmuring prayers as he drove.  At a stop, he opened the trunk, got out his prayer rug and bowed toward Mecca. After Bandia, we stopped at the beach at Popenguine.  Kids were practicing wrestling, which is the Senegalese national sport. The Bandia Reserve has many animals roaming freely across a section of savanna of 3500 hectares (about 13 square miles). (more…)
More

St. Louis Fishing

After lunch Saturday, we returned to the center of town where Ismaila put us in the hands of an English-speaking guide and the 12 year old kid who drove a caleche, a horse drawn carriage, furthering our belief that he was looking for his next job. We figured we were in for the standard, kind of boring tour of St. Louis, the original capital of French West Africa, reminiscent of New Orleans. It started out that way as the guide pointed out the first mosque in St. Louis, with a bell because the French didn't like the call to prayer, and an old rusting crane used to unload boats, built…
More

Lunch in a Senegalese Home

Back in St. Louis, Ismaila took us to his house for lunch. We walked into a courtyard where he took us into a room with four women sitting and watching TV. We exchanged greetings and introductions and smiled at each other. One woman was braiding a young girls hair, the unbraided part was a tangled mess. The girl was in some pain, in tears at one point, but the finished part looked really good. Finally mom gave her a break and she left the room. (more…)
More

The Trip Redeems Itself at Djoudj

Friday was the worst day of our trip. Saturday was the best. Ismaila, the guide we met on the boat, who drove us up here to St. Louis, picked us up at the hotel at 8am. He was out on the street and introduced us to Nicholas who was coming with us to the Djoudj bird sanctuary. Turns out Nick is a New Yorker, living in London, who flew to Dakar and came straight to St. Louis. Brave guy drove himself in a rental car. We all piled into a taxi for the 60km drive to the sanctuary which is on the Mauritanian border. (more…)
More
Zigjuinchor, Casamance, Senegal

Now in Ziguinchor

Today we left the coast and drove to Ziguinchor, the capital of Casamance. When we arrived here some days ago, we negotiated a ride both ways with Madi, a nice young taxi driver. We agreed on 20,000cfa, West African Francs (about $40), each way. At the Maya hotel on the coast, Rosine, the hotel owner, told us that was really good, normally we should expect to pay 25-30,000 for that ride. (more…)
More
Diembering, Casamance, Senegal

Diembering

We are staying at a little hotel 2 miles off the main road, which itself is pretty deserted.  Nearby is a village called Diembering. We could almost walk there, but didn't want to just show up and walk around town. So the bartender here at the hotel, Aliou, arranged for a taxi to take us. (more…)
More
On the street in Dakar, Senegal

Senegal After 4 Days

Dakar: There is no reason to go to Dakar. It is a business and government hub for West Africa. Modern, high rise city in the center, surrounded by residential neighborhoods, some slums, but not as much as I would have predicted. Preparing for this trip, we read about touts and hustlers and beggars who won't leave you alone, but it doesn't seem that bad - we have seen these, but after a simple "no, merci" they have all gone away. Maybe because we're older. We found a patisserie where we sat and enjoyed cappuccinos and watching the traffic. [caption id="attachment_90" align="alignnone" width="640"] On the street in Dakar[/caption] Then we walked…
More

Why Africa?

Why Senegal? West African culture has contributed a lot to the Americas.  I see it in everyday life and in travels around Latin America and especially the Caribbean.  I wanted to see what it was like first-hand. (more…)
More

Istanbul – Shopping

A few short blocks away from the Istanbul Hippodrome is the Grand Bazaar, supposedly with 8000 shops. We were expecting / hoping for a rat’s nest of confusing narrow alleys packed with vendors selling all sorts of stuff. Like this: (Souk in Tunis) But instead we found a shopping mall: We did stop in to a leather shop, where Maria tried on some really beautiful red and black leather jackets, but could not find a size that worked. Upon exiting, we got a little bit of half-hearted hustling from the other leather vendors, but not the true Middle-Eastern harassment that is really part of the experience. We headed straight for…
More

Istanbul – Sultanahmet

We stayed just behind the Blue Mosque on a quiet side street, at the Kaftan Hotel. The location was great, an easy walk to the main sites, in a neighborhood with lots of restaurants and shops, yet on a quiet side street, so we didn’t get a lot of the racket we would have had we stayed in one of the many other nearby hotels. We were in Istanbul for 5 days and didn’t see everything we wanted to. We spent most of our time within walking distance of our hotel – there is a LOT to see all packed into a small area. The Blue Mosque and Hagia Sofia are…
More

Cappadocia

Upon arrival at Ataturk Airport in Istanbul, we hung around the domestic terminal for 5 hours to catch a flight to Cappadocia. Cappadocia is pretty rural, with beautiful landscapes that reminded us of Bryce Canyon in Utah. Instead of sandstone, the rocks are volcanic ash, not nearly as colorful, but the erosion effect is similar, as the “fairy chimneys” are eroded out of the surrounding material by the wind and rain. We stayed at the Cave Hotel Saksağan in Göreme. This was a cave room in a fairy chimney.    They arranged a rental car, so we were able to drive away from the Disney-esque bus crowds and see the region on our own.…
More

Saint Martin, April, 2011

Maria was the number 1 salesperson in her group again last year, so we got to go to St. Martin on Iron Mountain. The event was from Thursday to Sunday; we traded our timeshare so we could go down the previous Sunday for some real vacation. We stayed on the Dutch side at Cupecoy. We rented a little Hyundai from a guy who met us at the airport. Windows down, we rolled off at 30 mph. Over the next several days, we went from beach to beach and dined on fabulous French cuisine. The awards festivities were very nice, though our hosts couldn’t be there (as it turns out they…
More

Tiny Village Near Dakar

Meisa took us to a little village that immediately was identified as without health care facilities or schools, leading us to think it was a donation opportunity. We were shown around the village by a son of the village chief, who we later met in person. He narrated in Wolof, which Meisa translated for us. We saw how they draw water, how they prepare food, some of their animals, some of their farming. Then, just like so many tours around the world, to the gift shop. The chief's son suddenly switched to French when exotic native time ended and sales time began. After some standard bargaining, we bought a couple…
More

Bandia Wildlife Refuge and Wrestlers

Guide Meisa and driver Mas took us to Bandia park for the day.  Mas is very devout, he was fingering prayer beads and murmuring prayers as he drove.  At a stop, he opened the trunk, got out his prayer rug and bowed toward Mecca. After Bandia, we stopped at the beach at Popenguine.  Kids were practicing wrestling, which is the Senegalese national sport. The Bandia Reserve has many animals roaming freely across a section of savanna of 3500 hectares (about 13 square miles). (more…)
More

St. Louis Fishing

After lunch Saturday, we returned to the center of town where Ismaila put us in the hands of an English-speaking guide and the 12 year old kid who drove a caleche, a horse drawn carriage, furthering our belief that he was looking for his next job. We figured we were in for the standard, kind of boring tour of St. Louis, the original capital of French West Africa, reminiscent of New Orleans. It started out that way as the guide pointed out the first mosque in St. Louis, with a bell because the French didn't like the call to prayer, and an old rusting crane used to unload boats, built…
More

Lunch in a Senegalese Home

Back in St. Louis, Ismaila took us to his house for lunch. We walked into a courtyard where he took us into a room with four women sitting and watching TV. We exchanged greetings and introductions and smiled at each other. One woman was braiding a young girls hair, the unbraided part was a tangled mess. The girl was in some pain, in tears at one point, but the finished part looked really good. Finally mom gave her a break and she left the room. (more…)
More

The Trip Redeems Itself at Djoudj

Friday was the worst day of our trip. Saturday was the best. Ismaila, the guide we met on the boat, who drove us up here to St. Louis, picked us up at the hotel at 8am. He was out on the street and introduced us to Nicholas who was coming with us to the Djoudj bird sanctuary. Turns out Nick is a New Yorker, living in London, who flew to Dakar and came straight to St. Louis. Brave guy drove himself in a rental car. We all piled into a taxi for the 60km drive to the sanctuary which is on the Mauritanian border. (more…)
More
Zigjuinchor, Casamance, Senegal

Now in Ziguinchor

Today we left the coast and drove to Ziguinchor, the capital of Casamance. When we arrived here some days ago, we negotiated a ride both ways with Madi, a nice young taxi driver. We agreed on 20,000cfa, West African Francs (about $40), each way. At the Maya hotel on the coast, Rosine, the hotel owner, told us that was really good, normally we should expect to pay 25-30,000 for that ride. (more…)
More
Diembering, Casamance, Senegal

Diembering

We are staying at a little hotel 2 miles off the main road, which itself is pretty deserted.  Nearby is a village called Diembering. We could almost walk there, but didn't want to just show up and walk around town. So the bartender here at the hotel, Aliou, arranged for a taxi to take us. (more…)
More
On the street in Dakar, Senegal

Senegal After 4 Days

Dakar: There is no reason to go to Dakar. It is a business and government hub for West Africa. Modern, high rise city in the center, surrounded by residential neighborhoods, some slums, but not as much as I would have predicted. Preparing for this trip, we read about touts and hustlers and beggars who won't leave you alone, but it doesn't seem that bad - we have seen these, but after a simple "no, merci" they have all gone away. Maybe because we're older. We found a patisserie where we sat and enjoyed cappuccinos and watching the traffic. [caption id="attachment_90" align="alignnone" width="640"] On the street in Dakar[/caption] Then we walked…
More

Why Africa?

Why Senegal? West African culture has contributed a lot to the Americas.  I see it in everyday life and in travels around Latin America and especially the Caribbean.  I wanted to see what it was like first-hand. (more…)
More

Istanbul – Shopping

A few short blocks away from the Istanbul Hippodrome is the Grand Bazaar, supposedly with 8000 shops. We were expecting / hoping for a rat’s nest of confusing narrow alleys packed with vendors selling all sorts of stuff. Like this: (Souk in Tunis) But instead we found a shopping mall: We did stop in to a leather shop, where Maria tried on some really beautiful red and black leather jackets, but could not find a size that worked. Upon exiting, we got a little bit of half-hearted hustling from the other leather vendors, but not the true Middle-Eastern harassment that is really part of the experience. We headed straight for…
More

Istanbul – Sultanahmet

We stayed just behind the Blue Mosque on a quiet side street, at the Kaftan Hotel. The location was great, an easy walk to the main sites, in a neighborhood with lots of restaurants and shops, yet on a quiet side street, so we didn’t get a lot of the racket we would have had we stayed in one of the many other nearby hotels. We were in Istanbul for 5 days and didn’t see everything we wanted to. We spent most of our time within walking distance of our hotel – there is a LOT to see all packed into a small area. The Blue Mosque and Hagia Sofia are…
More

Cappadocia

Upon arrival at Ataturk Airport in Istanbul, we hung around the domestic terminal for 5 hours to catch a flight to Cappadocia. Cappadocia is pretty rural, with beautiful landscapes that reminded us of Bryce Canyon in Utah. Instead of sandstone, the rocks are volcanic ash, not nearly as colorful, but the erosion effect is similar, as the “fairy chimneys” are eroded out of the surrounding material by the wind and rain. We stayed at the Cave Hotel Saksağan in Göreme. This was a cave room in a fairy chimney.    They arranged a rental car, so we were able to drive away from the Disney-esque bus crowds and see the region on our own.…
More

Saint Martin, April, 2011

Maria was the number 1 salesperson in her group again last year, so we got to go to St. Martin on Iron Mountain. The event was from Thursday to Sunday; we traded our timeshare so we could go down the previous Sunday for some real vacation. We stayed on the Dutch side at Cupecoy. We rented a little Hyundai from a guy who met us at the airport. Windows down, we rolled off at 30 mph. Over the next several days, we went from beach to beach and dined on fabulous French cuisine. The awards festivities were very nice, though our hosts couldn’t be there (as it turns out they…
More

Tiny Village Near Dakar

Meisa took us to a little village that immediately was identified as without health care facilities or schools, leading us to think it was a donation opportunity. We were shown around the village by a son of the village chief, who we later met in person. He narrated in Wolof, which Meisa translated for us. We saw how they draw water, how they prepare food, some of their animals, some of their farming. Then, just like so many tours around the world, to the gift shop. The chief's son suddenly switched to French when exotic native time ended and sales time began. After some standard bargaining, we bought a couple…
More

Bandia Wildlife Refuge and Wrestlers

Guide Meisa and driver Mas took us to Bandia park for the day.  Mas is very devout, he was fingering prayer beads and murmuring prayers as he drove.  At a stop, he opened the trunk, got out his prayer rug and bowed toward Mecca. After Bandia, we stopped at the beach at Popenguine.  Kids were practicing wrestling, which is the Senegalese national sport. The Bandia Reserve has many animals roaming freely across a section of savanna of 3500 hectares (about 13 square miles). (more…)
More

St. Louis Fishing

After lunch Saturday, we returned to the center of town where Ismaila put us in the hands of an English-speaking guide and the 12 year old kid who drove a caleche, a horse drawn carriage, furthering our belief that he was looking for his next job. We figured we were in for the standard, kind of boring tour of St. Louis, the original capital of French West Africa, reminiscent of New Orleans. It started out that way as the guide pointed out the first mosque in St. Louis, with a bell because the French didn't like the call to prayer, and an old rusting crane used to unload boats, built…
More

Lunch in a Senegalese Home

Back in St. Louis, Ismaila took us to his house for lunch. We walked into a courtyard where he took us into a room with four women sitting and watching TV. We exchanged greetings and introductions and smiled at each other. One woman was braiding a young girls hair, the unbraided part was a tangled mess. The girl was in some pain, in tears at one point, but the finished part looked really good. Finally mom gave her a break and she left the room. (more…)
More

The Trip Redeems Itself at Djoudj

Friday was the worst day of our trip. Saturday was the best. Ismaila, the guide we met on the boat, who drove us up here to St. Louis, picked us up at the hotel at 8am. He was out on the street and introduced us to Nicholas who was coming with us to the Djoudj bird sanctuary. Turns out Nick is a New Yorker, living in London, who flew to Dakar and came straight to St. Louis. Brave guy drove himself in a rental car. We all piled into a taxi for the 60km drive to the sanctuary which is on the Mauritanian border. (more…)
More
Zigjuinchor, Casamance, Senegal

Now in Ziguinchor

Today we left the coast and drove to Ziguinchor, the capital of Casamance. When we arrived here some days ago, we negotiated a ride both ways with Madi, a nice young taxi driver. We agreed on 20,000cfa, West African Francs (about $40), each way. At the Maya hotel on the coast, Rosine, the hotel owner, told us that was really good, normally we should expect to pay 25-30,000 for that ride. (more…)
More
Diembering, Casamance, Senegal

Diembering

We are staying at a little hotel 2 miles off the main road, which itself is pretty deserted.  Nearby is a village called Diembering. We could almost walk there, but didn't want to just show up and walk around town. So the bartender here at the hotel, Aliou, arranged for a taxi to take us. (more…)
More
On the street in Dakar, Senegal

Senegal After 4 Days

Dakar: There is no reason to go to Dakar. It is a business and government hub for West Africa. Modern, high rise city in the center, surrounded by residential neighborhoods, some slums, but not as much as I would have predicted. Preparing for this trip, we read about touts and hustlers and beggars who won't leave you alone, but it doesn't seem that bad - we have seen these, but after a simple "no, merci" they have all gone away. Maybe because we're older. We found a patisserie where we sat and enjoyed cappuccinos and watching the traffic. [caption id="attachment_90" align="alignnone" width="640"] On the street in Dakar[/caption] Then we walked…
More

Why Africa?

Why Senegal? West African culture has contributed a lot to the Americas.  I see it in everyday life and in travels around Latin America and especially the Caribbean.  I wanted to see what it was like first-hand. (more…)
More

Istanbul – Shopping

A few short blocks away from the Istanbul Hippodrome is the Grand Bazaar, supposedly with 8000 shops. We were expecting / hoping for a rat’s nest of confusing narrow alleys packed with vendors selling all sorts of stuff. Like this: (Souk in Tunis) But instead we found a shopping mall: We did stop in to a leather shop, where Maria tried on some really beautiful red and black leather jackets, but could not find a size that worked. Upon exiting, we got a little bit of half-hearted hustling from the other leather vendors, but not the true Middle-Eastern harassment that is really part of the experience. We headed straight for…
More

Istanbul – Sultanahmet

We stayed just behind the Blue Mosque on a quiet side street, at the Kaftan Hotel. The location was great, an easy walk to the main sites, in a neighborhood with lots of restaurants and shops, yet on a quiet side street, so we didn’t get a lot of the racket we would have had we stayed in one of the many other nearby hotels. We were in Istanbul for 5 days and didn’t see everything we wanted to. We spent most of our time within walking distance of our hotel – there is a LOT to see all packed into a small area. The Blue Mosque and Hagia Sofia are…
More

Cappadocia

Upon arrival at Ataturk Airport in Istanbul, we hung around the domestic terminal for 5 hours to catch a flight to Cappadocia. Cappadocia is pretty rural, with beautiful landscapes that reminded us of Bryce Canyon in Utah. Instead of sandstone, the rocks are volcanic ash, not nearly as colorful, but the erosion effect is similar, as the “fairy chimneys” are eroded out of the surrounding material by the wind and rain. We stayed at the Cave Hotel Saksağan in Göreme. This was a cave room in a fairy chimney.    They arranged a rental car, so we were able to drive away from the Disney-esque bus crowds and see the region on our own.…
More

Saint Martin, April, 2011

Maria was the number 1 salesperson in her group again last year, so we got to go to St. Martin on Iron Mountain. The event was from Thursday to Sunday; we traded our timeshare so we could go down the previous Sunday for some real vacation. We stayed on the Dutch side at Cupecoy. We rented a little Hyundai from a guy who met us at the airport. Windows down, we rolled off at 30 mph. Over the next several days, we went from beach to beach and dined on fabulous French cuisine. The awards festivities were very nice, though our hosts couldn’t be there (as it turns out they…
More

Tiny Village Near Dakar

Meisa took us to a little village that immediately was identified as without health care facilities or schools, leading us to think it was a donation opportunity. We were shown around the village by a son of the village chief, who we later met in person. He narrated in Wolof, which Meisa translated for us. We saw how they draw water, how they prepare food, some of their animals, some of their farming. Then, just like so many tours around the world, to the gift shop. The chief's son suddenly switched to French when exotic native time ended and sales time began. After some standard bargaining, we bought a couple…
More

Bandia Wildlife Refuge and Wrestlers

Guide Meisa and driver Mas took us to Bandia park for the day.  Mas is very devout, he was fingering prayer beads and murmuring prayers as he drove.  At a stop, he opened the trunk, got out his prayer rug and bowed toward Mecca. After Bandia, we stopped at the beach at Popenguine.  Kids were practicing wrestling, which is the Senegalese national sport. The Bandia Reserve has many animals roaming freely across a section of savanna of 3500 hectares (about 13 square miles). (more…)
More

St. Louis Fishing

After lunch Saturday, we returned to the center of town where Ismaila put us in the hands of an English-speaking guide and the 12 year old kid who drove a caleche, a horse drawn carriage, furthering our belief that he was looking for his next job. We figured we were in for the standard, kind of boring tour of St. Louis, the original capital of French West Africa, reminiscent of New Orleans. It started out that way as the guide pointed out the first mosque in St. Louis, with a bell because the French didn't like the call to prayer, and an old rusting crane used to unload boats, built…
More

Lunch in a Senegalese Home

Back in St. Louis, Ismaila took us to his house for lunch. We walked into a courtyard where he took us into a room with four women sitting and watching TV. We exchanged greetings and introductions and smiled at each other. One woman was braiding a young girls hair, the unbraided part was a tangled mess. The girl was in some pain, in tears at one point, but the finished part looked really good. Finally mom gave her a break and she left the room. (more…)
More

The Trip Redeems Itself at Djoudj

Friday was the worst day of our trip. Saturday was the best. Ismaila, the guide we met on the boat, who drove us up here to St. Louis, picked us up at the hotel at 8am. He was out on the street and introduced us to Nicholas who was coming with us to the Djoudj bird sanctuary. Turns out Nick is a New Yorker, living in London, who flew to Dakar and came straight to St. Louis. Brave guy drove himself in a rental car. We all piled into a taxi for the 60km drive to the sanctuary which is on the Mauritanian border. (more…)
More
Zigjuinchor, Casamance, Senegal

Now in Ziguinchor

Today we left the coast and drove to Ziguinchor, the capital of Casamance. When we arrived here some days ago, we negotiated a ride both ways with Madi, a nice young taxi driver. We agreed on 20,000cfa, West African Francs (about $40), each way. At the Maya hotel on the coast, Rosine, the hotel owner, told us that was really good, normally we should expect to pay 25-30,000 for that ride. (more…)
More
Diembering, Casamance, Senegal

Diembering

We are staying at a little hotel 2 miles off the main road, which itself is pretty deserted.  Nearby is a village called Diembering. We could almost walk there, but didn't want to just show up and walk around town. So the bartender here at the hotel, Aliou, arranged for a taxi to take us. (more…)
More
On the street in Dakar, Senegal

Senegal After 4 Days

Dakar: There is no reason to go to Dakar. It is a business and government hub for West Africa. Modern, high rise city in the center, surrounded by residential neighborhoods, some slums, but not as much as I would have predicted. Preparing for this trip, we read about touts and hustlers and beggars who won't leave you alone, but it doesn't seem that bad - we have seen these, but after a simple "no, merci" they have all gone away. Maybe because we're older. We found a patisserie where we sat and enjoyed cappuccinos and watching the traffic. [caption id="attachment_90" align="alignnone" width="640"] On the street in Dakar[/caption] Then we walked…
More

Why Africa?

Why Senegal? West African culture has contributed a lot to the Americas.  I see it in everyday life and in travels around Latin America and especially the Caribbean.  I wanted to see what it was like first-hand. (more…)
More

Istanbul – Shopping

A few short blocks away from the Istanbul Hippodrome is the Grand Bazaar, supposedly with 8000 shops. We were expecting / hoping for a rat’s nest of confusing narrow alleys packed with vendors selling all sorts of stuff. Like this: (Souk in Tunis) But instead we found a shopping mall: We did stop in to a leather shop, where Maria tried on some really beautiful red and black leather jackets, but could not find a size that worked. Upon exiting, we got a little bit of half-hearted hustling from the other leather vendors, but not the true Middle-Eastern harassment that is really part of the experience. We headed straight for…
More

Istanbul – Sultanahmet

We stayed just behind the Blue Mosque on a quiet side street, at the Kaftan Hotel. The location was great, an easy walk to the main sites, in a neighborhood with lots of restaurants and shops, yet on a quiet side street, so we didn’t get a lot of the racket we would have had we stayed in one of the many other nearby hotels. We were in Istanbul for 5 days and didn’t see everything we wanted to. We spent most of our time within walking distance of our hotel – there is a LOT to see all packed into a small area. The Blue Mosque and Hagia Sofia are…
More

Cappadocia

Upon arrival at Ataturk Airport in Istanbul, we hung around the domestic terminal for 5 hours to catch a flight to Cappadocia. Cappadocia is pretty rural, with beautiful landscapes that reminded us of Bryce Canyon in Utah. Instead of sandstone, the rocks are volcanic ash, not nearly as colorful, but the erosion effect is similar, as the “fairy chimneys” are eroded out of the surrounding material by the wind and rain. We stayed at the Cave Hotel Saksağan in Göreme. This was a cave room in a fairy chimney.    They arranged a rental car, so we were able to drive away from the Disney-esque bus crowds and see the region on our own.…
More

Saint Martin, April, 2011

Maria was the number 1 salesperson in her group again last year, so we got to go to St. Martin on Iron Mountain. The event was from Thursday to Sunday; we traded our timeshare so we could go down the previous Sunday for some real vacation. We stayed on the Dutch side at Cupecoy. We rented a little Hyundai from a guy who met us at the airport. Windows down, we rolled off at 30 mph. Over the next several days, we went from beach to beach and dined on fabulous French cuisine. The awards festivities were very nice, though our hosts couldn’t be there (as it turns out they…
More

Tiny Village Near Dakar

Meisa took us to a little village that immediately was identified as without health care facilities or schools, leading us to think it was a donation opportunity. We were shown around the village by a son of the village chief, who we later met in person. He narrated in Wolof, which Meisa translated for us. We saw how they draw water, how they prepare food, some of their animals, some of their farming. Then, just like so many tours around the world, to the gift shop. The chief's son suddenly switched to French when exotic native time ended and sales time began. After some standard bargaining, we bought a couple…
More

Bandia Wildlife Refuge and Wrestlers

Guide Meisa and driver Mas took us to Bandia park for the day.  Mas is very devout, he was fingering prayer beads and murmuring prayers as he drove.  At a stop, he opened the trunk, got out his prayer rug and bowed toward Mecca. After Bandia, we stopped at the beach at Popenguine.  Kids were practicing wrestling, which is the Senegalese national sport. The Bandia Reserve has many animals roaming freely across a section of savanna of 3500 hectares (about 13 square miles). (more…)
More

St. Louis Fishing

After lunch Saturday, we returned to the center of town where Ismaila put us in the hands of an English-speaking guide and the 12 year old kid who drove a caleche, a horse drawn carriage, furthering our belief that he was looking for his next job. We figured we were in for the standard, kind of boring tour of St. Louis, the original capital of French West Africa, reminiscent of New Orleans. It started out that way as the guide pointed out the first mosque in St. Louis, with a bell because the French didn't like the call to prayer, and an old rusting crane used to unload boats, built…
More

Lunch in a Senegalese Home

Back in St. Louis, Ismaila took us to his house for lunch. We walked into a courtyard where he took us into a room with four women sitting and watching TV. We exchanged greetings and introductions and smiled at each other. One woman was braiding a young girls hair, the unbraided part was a tangled mess. The girl was in some pain, in tears at one point, but the finished part looked really good. Finally mom gave her a break and she left the room. (more…)
More

The Trip Redeems Itself at Djoudj

Friday was the worst day of our trip. Saturday was the best. Ismaila, the guide we met on the boat, who drove us up here to St. Louis, picked us up at the hotel at 8am. He was out on the street and introduced us to Nicholas who was coming with us to the Djoudj bird sanctuary. Turns out Nick is a New Yorker, living in London, who flew to Dakar and came straight to St. Louis. Brave guy drove himself in a rental car. We all piled into a taxi for the 60km drive to the sanctuary which is on the Mauritanian border. (more…)
More
Zigjuinchor, Casamance, Senegal

Now in Ziguinchor

Today we left the coast and drove to Ziguinchor, the capital of Casamance. When we arrived here some days ago, we negotiated a ride both ways with Madi, a nice young taxi driver. We agreed on 20,000cfa, West African Francs (about $40), each way. At the Maya hotel on the coast, Rosine, the hotel owner, told us that was really good, normally we should expect to pay 25-30,000 for that ride. (more…)
More
Diembering, Casamance, Senegal

Diembering

We are staying at a little hotel 2 miles off the main road, which itself is pretty deserted.  Nearby is a village called Diembering. We could almost walk there, but didn't want to just show up and walk around town. So the bartender here at the hotel, Aliou, arranged for a taxi to take us. (more…)
More
On the street in Dakar, Senegal

Senegal After 4 Days

Dakar: There is no reason to go to Dakar. It is a business and government hub for West Africa. Modern, high rise city in the center, surrounded by residential neighborhoods, some slums, but not as much as I would have predicted. Preparing for this trip, we read about touts and hustlers and beggars who won't leave you alone, but it doesn't seem that bad - we have seen these, but after a simple "no, merci" they have all gone away. Maybe because we're older. We found a patisserie where we sat and enjoyed cappuccinos and watching the traffic. [caption id="attachment_90" align="alignnone" width="640"] On the street in Dakar[/caption] Then we walked…
More

Why Africa?

Why Senegal? West African culture has contributed a lot to the Americas.  I see it in everyday life and in travels around Latin America and especially the Caribbean.  I wanted to see what it was like first-hand. (more…)
More

Istanbul – Shopping

A few short blocks away from the Istanbul Hippodrome is the Grand Bazaar, supposedly with 8000 shops. We were expecting / hoping for a rat’s nest of confusing narrow alleys packed with vendors selling all sorts of stuff. Like this: (Souk in Tunis) But instead we found a shopping mall: We did stop in to a leather shop, where Maria tried on some really beautiful red and black leather jackets, but could not find a size that worked. Upon exiting, we got a little bit of half-hearted hustling from the other leather vendors, but not the true Middle-Eastern harassment that is really part of the experience. We headed straight for…
More

Istanbul – Sultanahmet

We stayed just behind the Blue Mosque on a quiet side street, at the Kaftan Hotel. The location was great, an easy walk to the main sites, in a neighborhood with lots of restaurants and shops, yet on a quiet side street, so we didn’t get a lot of the racket we would have had we stayed in one of the many other nearby hotels. We were in Istanbul for 5 days and didn’t see everything we wanted to. We spent most of our time within walking distance of our hotel – there is a LOT to see all packed into a small area. The Blue Mosque and Hagia Sofia are…
More

Cappadocia

Upon arrival at Ataturk Airport in Istanbul, we hung around the domestic terminal for 5 hours to catch a flight to Cappadocia. Cappadocia is pretty rural, with beautiful landscapes that reminded us of Bryce Canyon in Utah. Instead of sandstone, the rocks are volcanic ash, not nearly as colorful, but the erosion effect is similar, as the “fairy chimneys” are eroded out of the surrounding material by the wind and rain. We stayed at the Cave Hotel Saksağan in Göreme. This was a cave room in a fairy chimney.    They arranged a rental car, so we were able to drive away from the Disney-esque bus crowds and see the region on our own.…
More

Saint Martin, April, 2011

Maria was the number 1 salesperson in her group again last year, so we got to go to St. Martin on Iron Mountain. The event was from Thursday to Sunday; we traded our timeshare so we could go down the previous Sunday for some real vacation. We stayed on the Dutch side at Cupecoy. We rented a little Hyundai from a guy who met us at the airport. Windows down, we rolled off at 30 mph. Over the next several days, we went from beach to beach and dined on fabulous French cuisine. The awards festivities were very nice, though our hosts couldn’t be there (as it turns out they…
More

Tiny Village Near Dakar

Meisa took us to a little village that immediately was identified as without health care facilities or schools, leading us to think it was a donation opportunity. We were shown around the village by a son of the village chief, who we later met in person. He narrated in Wolof, which Meisa translated for us. We saw how they draw water, how they prepare food, some of their animals, some of their farming. Then, just like so many tours around the world, to the gift shop. The chief's son suddenly switched to French when exotic native time ended and sales time began. After some standard bargaining, we bought a couple…
More

Bandia Wildlife Refuge and Wrestlers

Guide Meisa and driver Mas took us to Bandia park for the day.  Mas is very devout, he was fingering prayer beads and murmuring prayers as he drove.  At a stop, he opened the trunk, got out his prayer rug and bowed toward Mecca. After Bandia, we stopped at the beach at Popenguine.  Kids were practicing wrestling, which is the Senegalese national sport. The Bandia Reserve has many animals roaming freely across a section of savanna of 3500 hectares (about 13 square miles). (more…)
More

St. Louis Fishing

After lunch Saturday, we returned to the center of town where Ismaila put us in the hands of an English-speaking guide and the 12 year old kid who drove a caleche, a horse drawn carriage, furthering our belief that he was looking for his next job. We figured we were in for the standard, kind of boring tour of St. Louis, the original capital of French West Africa, reminiscent of New Orleans. It started out that way as the guide pointed out the first mosque in St. Louis, with a bell because the French didn't like the call to prayer, and an old rusting crane used to unload boats, built…
More

Lunch in a Senegalese Home

Back in St. Louis, Ismaila took us to his house for lunch. We walked into a courtyard where he took us into a room with four women sitting and watching TV. We exchanged greetings and introductions and smiled at each other. One woman was braiding a young girls hair, the unbraided part was a tangled mess. The girl was in some pain, in tears at one point, but the finished part looked really good. Finally mom gave her a break and she left the room. (more…)
More

The Trip Redeems Itself at Djoudj

Friday was the worst day of our trip. Saturday was the best. Ismaila, the guide we met on the boat, who drove us up here to St. Louis, picked us up at the hotel at 8am. He was out on the street and introduced us to Nicholas who was coming with us to the Djoudj bird sanctuary. Turns out Nick is a New Yorker, living in London, who flew to Dakar and came straight to St. Louis. Brave guy drove himself in a rental car. We all piled into a taxi for the 60km drive to the sanctuary which is on the Mauritanian border. (more…)
More
Zigjuinchor, Casamance, Senegal

Now in Ziguinchor

Today we left the coast and drove to Ziguinchor, the capital of Casamance. When we arrived here some days ago, we negotiated a ride both ways with Madi, a nice young taxi driver. We agreed on 20,000cfa, West African Francs (about $40), each way. At the Maya hotel on the coast, Rosine, the hotel owner, told us that was really good, normally we should expect to pay 25-30,000 for that ride. (more…)
More
Diembering, Casamance, Senegal

Diembering

We are staying at a little hotel 2 miles off the main road, which itself is pretty deserted.  Nearby is a village called Diembering. We could almost walk there, but didn't want to just show up and walk around town. So the bartender here at the hotel, Aliou, arranged for a taxi to take us. (more…)
More
On the street in Dakar, Senegal

Senegal After 4 Days

Dakar: There is no reason to go to Dakar. It is a business and government hub for West Africa. Modern, high rise city in the center, surrounded by residential neighborhoods, some slums, but not as much as I would have predicted. Preparing for this trip, we read about touts and hustlers and beggars who won't leave you alone, but it doesn't seem that bad - we have seen these, but after a simple "no, merci" they have all gone away. Maybe because we're older. We found a patisserie where we sat and enjoyed cappuccinos and watching the traffic. [caption id="attachment_90" align="alignnone" width="640"] On the street in Dakar[/caption] Then we walked…
More

Why Africa?

Why Senegal? West African culture has contributed a lot to the Americas.  I see it in everyday life and in travels around Latin America and especially the Caribbean.  I wanted to see what it was like first-hand. (more…)
More

Istanbul – Shopping

A few short blocks away from the Istanbul Hippodrome is the Grand Bazaar, supposedly with 8000 shops. We were expecting / hoping for a rat’s nest of confusing narrow alleys packed with vendors selling all sorts of stuff. Like this: (Souk in Tunis) But instead we found a shopping mall: We did stop in to a leather shop, where Maria tried on some really beautiful red and black leather jackets, but could not find a size that worked. Upon exiting, we got a little bit of half-hearted hustling from the other leather vendors, but not the true Middle-Eastern harassment that is really part of the experience. We headed straight for…
More

Istanbul – Sultanahmet

We stayed just behind the Blue Mosque on a quiet side street, at the Kaftan Hotel. The location was great, an easy walk to the main sites, in a neighborhood with lots of restaurants and shops, yet on a quiet side street, so we didn’t get a lot of the racket we would have had we stayed in one of the many other nearby hotels. We were in Istanbul for 5 days and didn’t see everything we wanted to. We spent most of our time within walking distance of our hotel – there is a LOT to see all packed into a small area. The Blue Mosque and Hagia Sofia are…
More

Cappadocia

Upon arrival at Ataturk Airport in Istanbul, we hung around the domestic terminal for 5 hours to catch a flight to Cappadocia. Cappadocia is pretty rural, with beautiful landscapes that reminded us of Bryce Canyon in Utah. Instead of sandstone, the rocks are volcanic ash, not nearly as colorful, but the erosion effect is similar, as the “fairy chimneys” are eroded out of the surrounding material by the wind and rain. We stayed at the Cave Hotel Saksağan in Göreme. This was a cave room in a fairy chimney.    They arranged a rental car, so we were able to drive away from the Disney-esque bus crowds and see the region on our own.…
More

Saint Martin, April, 2011

Maria was the number 1 salesperson in her group again last year, so we got to go to St. Martin on Iron Mountain. The event was from Thursday to Sunday; we traded our timeshare so we could go down the previous Sunday for some real vacation. We stayed on the Dutch side at Cupecoy. We rented a little Hyundai from a guy who met us at the airport. Windows down, we rolled off at 30 mph. Over the next several days, we went from beach to beach and dined on fabulous French cuisine. The awards festivities were very nice, though our hosts couldn’t be there (as it turns out they…
More

Tiny Village Near Dakar

Meisa took us to a little village that immediately was identified as without health care facilities or schools, leading us to think it was a donation opportunity. We were shown around the village by a son of the village chief, who we later met in person. He narrated in Wolof, which Meisa translated for us. We saw how they draw water, how they prepare food, some of their animals, some of their farming. Then, just like so many tours around the world, to the gift shop. The chief's son suddenly switched to French when exotic native time ended and sales time began. After some standard bargaining, we bought a couple…
More

Bandia Wildlife Refuge and Wrestlers

Guide Meisa and driver Mas took us to Bandia park for the day.  Mas is very devout, he was fingering prayer beads and murmuring prayers as he drove.  At a stop, he opened the trunk, got out his prayer rug and bowed toward Mecca. After Bandia, we stopped at the beach at Popenguine.  Kids were practicing wrestling, which is the Senegalese national sport. The Bandia Reserve has many animals roaming freely across a section of savanna of 3500 hectares (about 13 square miles). (more…)
More

St. Louis Fishing

After lunch Saturday, we returned to the center of town where Ismaila put us in the hands of an English-speaking guide and the 12 year old kid who drove a caleche, a horse drawn carriage, furthering our belief that he was looking for his next job. We figured we were in for the standard, kind of boring tour of St. Louis, the original capital of French West Africa, reminiscent of New Orleans. It started out that way as the guide pointed out the first mosque in St. Louis, with a bell because the French didn't like the call to prayer, and an old rusting crane used to unload boats, built…
More

Lunch in a Senegalese Home

Back in St. Louis, Ismaila took us to his house for lunch. We walked into a courtyard where he took us into a room with four women sitting and watching TV. We exchanged greetings and introductions and smiled at each other. One woman was braiding a young girls hair, the unbraided part was a tangled mess. The girl was in some pain, in tears at one point, but the finished part looked really good. Finally mom gave her a break and she left the room. (more…)
More

The Trip Redeems Itself at Djoudj

Friday was the worst day of our trip. Saturday was the best. Ismaila, the guide we met on the boat, who drove us up here to St. Louis, picked us up at the hotel at 8am. He was out on the street and introduced us to Nicholas who was coming with us to the Djoudj bird sanctuary. Turns out Nick is a New Yorker, living in London, who flew to Dakar and came straight to St. Louis. Brave guy drove himself in a rental car. We all piled into a taxi for the 60km drive to the sanctuary which is on the Mauritanian border. (more…)
More
Zigjuinchor, Casamance, Senegal

Now in Ziguinchor

Today we left the coast and drove to Ziguinchor, the capital of Casamance. When we arrived here some days ago, we negotiated a ride both ways with Madi, a nice young taxi driver. We agreed on 20,000cfa, West African Francs (about $40), each way. At the Maya hotel on the coast, Rosine, the hotel owner, told us that was really good, normally we should expect to pay 25-30,000 for that ride. (more…)
More
Diembering, Casamance, Senegal

Diembering

We are staying at a little hotel 2 miles off the main road, which itself is pretty deserted.  Nearby is a village called Diembering. We could almost walk there, but didn't want to just show up and walk around town. So the bartender here at the hotel, Aliou, arranged for a taxi to take us. (more…)
More
On the street in Dakar, Senegal

Senegal After 4 Days

Dakar: There is no reason to go to Dakar. It is a business and government hub for West Africa. Modern, high rise city in the center, surrounded by residential neighborhoods, some slums, but not as much as I would have predicted. Preparing for this trip, we read about touts and hustlers and beggars who won't leave you alone, but it doesn't seem that bad - we have seen these, but after a simple "no, merci" they have all gone away. Maybe because we're older. We found a patisserie where we sat and enjoyed cappuccinos and watching the traffic. [caption id="attachment_90" align="alignnone" width="640"] On the street in Dakar[/caption] Then we walked…
More

Why Africa?

Why Senegal? West African culture has contributed a lot to the Americas.  I see it in everyday life and in travels around Latin America and especially the Caribbean.  I wanted to see what it was like first-hand. (more…)
More

Istanbul – Shopping

A few short blocks away from the Istanbul Hippodrome is the Grand Bazaar, supposedly with 8000 shops. We were expecting / hoping for a rat’s nest of confusing narrow alleys packed with vendors selling all sorts of stuff. Like this: (Souk in Tunis) But instead we found a shopping mall: We did stop in to a leather shop, where Maria tried on some really beautiful red and black leather jackets, but could not find a size that worked. Upon exiting, we got a little bit of half-hearted hustling from the other leather vendors, but not the true Middle-Eastern harassment that is really part of the experience. We headed straight for…
More

Istanbul – Sultanahmet

We stayed just behind the Blue Mosque on a quiet side street, at the Kaftan Hotel. The location was great, an easy walk to the main sites, in a neighborhood with lots of restaurants and shops, yet on a quiet side street, so we didn’t get a lot of the racket we would have had we stayed in one of the many other nearby hotels. We were in Istanbul for 5 days and didn’t see everything we wanted to. We spent most of our time within walking distance of our hotel – there is a LOT to see all packed into a small area. The Blue Mosque and Hagia Sofia are…
More

Cappadocia

Upon arrival at Ataturk Airport in Istanbul, we hung around the domestic terminal for 5 hours to catch a flight to Cappadocia. Cappadocia is pretty rural, with beautiful landscapes that reminded us of Bryce Canyon in Utah. Instead of sandstone, the rocks are volcanic ash, not nearly as colorful, but the erosion effect is similar, as the “fairy chimneys” are eroded out of the surrounding material by the wind and rain. We stayed at the Cave Hotel Saksağan in Göreme. This was a cave room in a fairy chimney.    They arranged a rental car, so we were able to drive away from the Disney-esque bus crowds and see the region on our own.…
More

Saint Martin, April, 2011

Maria was the number 1 salesperson in her group again last year, so we got to go to St. Martin on Iron Mountain. The event was from Thursday to Sunday; we traded our timeshare so we could go down the previous Sunday for some real vacation. We stayed on the Dutch side at Cupecoy. We rented a little Hyundai from a guy who met us at the airport. Windows down, we rolled off at 30 mph. Over the next several days, we went from beach to beach and dined on fabulous French cuisine. The awards festivities were very nice, though our hosts couldn’t be there (as it turns out they…
More

Tiny Village Near Dakar

Meisa took us to a little village that immediately was identified as without health care facilities or schools, leading us to think it was a donation opportunity. We were shown around the village by a son of the village chief, who we later met in person. He narrated in Wolof, which Meisa translated for us. We saw how they draw water, how they prepare food, some of their animals, some of their farming. Then, just like so many tours around the world, to the gift shop. The chief's son suddenly switched to French when exotic native time ended and sales time began. After some standard bargaining, we bought a couple…
More

Bandia Wildlife Refuge and Wrestlers

Guide Meisa and driver Mas took us to Bandia park for the day.  Mas is very devout, he was fingering prayer beads and murmuring prayers as he drove.  At a stop, he opened the trunk, got out his prayer rug and bowed toward Mecca. After Bandia, we stopped at the beach at Popenguine.  Kids were practicing wrestling, which is the Senegalese national sport. The Bandia Reserve has many animals roaming freely across a section of savanna of 3500 hectares (about 13 square miles). (more…)
More

St. Louis Fishing

After lunch Saturday, we returned to the center of town where Ismaila put us in the hands of an English-speaking guide and the 12 year old kid who drove a caleche, a horse drawn carriage, furthering our belief that he was looking for his next job. We figured we were in for the standard, kind of boring tour of St. Louis, the original capital of French West Africa, reminiscent of New Orleans. It started out that way as the guide pointed out the first mosque in St. Louis, with a bell because the French didn't like the call to prayer, and an old rusting crane used to unload boats, built…
More

Lunch in a Senegalese Home

Back in St. Louis, Ismaila took us to his house for lunch. We walked into a courtyard where he took us into a room with four women sitting and watching TV. We exchanged greetings and introductions and smiled at each other. One woman was braiding a young girls hair, the unbraided part was a tangled mess. The girl was in some pain, in tears at one point, but the finished part looked really good. Finally mom gave her a break and she left the room. (more…)
More

The Trip Redeems Itself at Djoudj

Friday was the worst day of our trip. Saturday was the best. Ismaila, the guide we met on the boat, who drove us up here to St. Louis, picked us up at the hotel at 8am. He was out on the street and introduced us to Nicholas who was coming with us to the Djoudj bird sanctuary. Turns out Nick is a New Yorker, living in London, who flew to Dakar and came straight to St. Louis. Brave guy drove himself in a rental car. We all piled into a taxi for the 60km drive to the sanctuary which is on the Mauritanian border. (more…)
More
Zigjuinchor, Casamance, Senegal

Now in Ziguinchor

Today we left the coast and drove to Ziguinchor, the capital of Casamance. When we arrived here some days ago, we negotiated a ride both ways with Madi, a nice young taxi driver. We agreed on 20,000cfa, West African Francs (about $40), each way. At the Maya hotel on the coast, Rosine, the hotel owner, told us that was really good, normally we should expect to pay 25-30,000 for that ride. (more…)
More
Diembering, Casamance, Senegal

Diembering

We are staying at a little hotel 2 miles off the main road, which itself is pretty deserted.  Nearby is a village called Diembering. We could almost walk there, but didn't want to just show up and walk around town. So the bartender here at the hotel, Aliou, arranged for a taxi to take us. (more…)
More
On the street in Dakar, Senegal

Senegal After 4 Days

Dakar: There is no reason to go to Dakar. It is a business and government hub for West Africa. Modern, high rise city in the center, surrounded by residential neighborhoods, some slums, but not as much as I would have predicted. Preparing for this trip, we read about touts and hustlers and beggars who won't leave you alone, but it doesn't seem that bad - we have seen these, but after a simple "no, merci" they have all gone away. Maybe because we're older. We found a patisserie where we sat and enjoyed cappuccinos and watching the traffic. [caption id="attachment_90" align="alignnone" width="640"] On the street in Dakar[/caption] Then we walked…
More

Why Africa?

Why Senegal? West African culture has contributed a lot to the Americas.  I see it in everyday life and in travels around Latin America and especially the Caribbean.  I wanted to see what it was like first-hand. (more…)
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Istanbul – Shopping

A few short blocks away from the Istanbul Hippodrome is the Grand Bazaar, supposedly with 8000 shops. We were expecting / hoping for a rat’s nest of confusing narrow alleys packed with vendors selling all sorts of stuff. Like this: (Souk in Tunis) But instead we found a shopping mall: We did stop in to a leather shop, where Maria tried on some really beautiful red and black leather jackets, but could not find a size that worked. Upon exiting, we got a little bit of half-hearted hustling from the other leather vendors, but not the true Middle-Eastern harassment that is really part of the experience. We headed straight for…
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Istanbul – Sultanahmet

We stayed just behind the Blue Mosque on a quiet side street, at the Kaftan Hotel. The location was great, an easy walk to the main sites, in a neighborhood with lots of restaurants and shops, yet on a quiet side street, so we didn’t get a lot of the racket we would have had we stayed in one of the many other nearby hotels. We were in Istanbul for 5 days and didn’t see everything we wanted to. We spent most of our time within walking distance of our hotel – there is a LOT to see all packed into a small area. The Blue Mosque and Hagia Sofia are…
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Cappadocia

Upon arrival at Ataturk Airport in Istanbul, we hung around the domestic terminal for 5 hours to catch a flight to Cappadocia. Cappadocia is pretty rural, with beautiful landscapes that reminded us of Bryce Canyon in Utah. Instead of sandstone, the rocks are volcanic ash, not nearly as colorful, but the erosion effect is similar, as the “fairy chimneys” are eroded out of the surrounding material by the wind and rain. We stayed at the Cave Hotel Saksağan in Göreme. This was a cave room in a fairy chimney.    They arranged a rental car, so we were able to drive away from the Disney-esque bus crowds and see the region on our own.…
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Saint Martin, April, 2011

Maria was the number 1 salesperson in her group again last year, so we got to go to St. Martin on Iron Mountain. The event was from Thursday to Sunday; we traded our timeshare so we could go down the previous Sunday for some real vacation. We stayed on the Dutch side at Cupecoy. We rented a little Hyundai from a guy who met us at the airport. Windows down, we rolled off at 30 mph. Over the next several days, we went from beach to beach and dined on fabulous French cuisine. The awards festivities were very nice, though our hosts couldn’t be there (as it turns out they…
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Tiny Village Near Dakar

Meisa took us to a little village that immediately was identified as without health care facilities or schools, leading us to think it was a donation opportunity. We were shown around the village by a son of the village chief, who we later met in person. He narrated in Wolof, which Meisa translated for us. We saw how they draw water, how they prepare food, some of their animals, some of their farming. Then, just like so many tours around the world, to the gift shop. The chief's son suddenly switched to French when exotic native time ended and sales time began. After some standard bargaining, we bought a couple…
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Bandia Wildlife Refuge and Wrestlers

Guide Meisa and driver Mas took us to Bandia park for the day.  Mas is very devout, he was fingering prayer beads and murmuring prayers as he drove.  At a stop, he opened the trunk, got out his prayer rug and bowed toward Mecca. After Bandia, we stopped at the beach at Popenguine.  Kids were practicing wrestling, which is the Senegalese national sport. The Bandia Reserve has many animals roaming freely across a section of savanna of 3500 hectares (about 13 square miles). (more…)
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St. Louis Fishing

After lunch Saturday, we returned to the center of town where Ismaila put us in the hands of an English-speaking guide and the 12 year old kid who drove a caleche, a horse drawn carriage, furthering our belief that he was looking for his next job. We figured we were in for the standard, kind of boring tour of St. Louis, the original capital of French West Africa, reminiscent of New Orleans. It started out that way as the guide pointed out the first mosque in St. Louis, with a bell because the French didn't like the call to prayer, and an old rusting crane used to unload boats, built…
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Lunch in a Senegalese Home

Back in St. Louis, Ismaila took us to his house for lunch. We walked into a courtyard where he took us into a room with four women sitting and watching TV. We exchanged greetings and introductions and smiled at each other. One woman was braiding a young girls hair, the unbraided part was a tangled mess. The girl was in some pain, in tears at one point, but the finished part looked really good. Finally mom gave her a break and she left the room. (more…)
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The Trip Redeems Itself at Djoudj

Friday was the worst day of our trip. Saturday was the best. Ismaila, the guide we met on the boat, who drove us up here to St. Louis, picked us up at the hotel at 8am. He was out on the street and introduced us to Nicholas who was coming with us to the Djoudj bird sanctuary. Turns out Nick is a New Yorker, living in London, who flew to Dakar and came straight to St. Louis. Brave guy drove himself in a rental car. We all piled into a taxi for the 60km drive to the sanctuary which is on the Mauritanian border. (more…)
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Zigjuinchor, Casamance, Senegal

Now in Ziguinchor

Today we left the coast and drove to Ziguinchor, the capital of Casamance. When we arrived here some days ago, we negotiated a ride both ways with Madi, a nice young taxi driver. We agreed on 20,000cfa, West African Francs (about $40), each way. At the Maya hotel on the coast, Rosine, the hotel owner, told us that was really good, normally we should expect to pay 25-30,000 for that ride. (more…)
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Diembering, Casamance, Senegal

Diembering

We are staying at a little hotel 2 miles off the main road, which itself is pretty deserted.  Nearby is a village called Diembering. We could almost walk there, but didn't want to just show up and walk around town. So the bartender here at the hotel, Aliou, arranged for a taxi to take us. (more…)
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On the street in Dakar, Senegal

Senegal After 4 Days

Dakar: There is no reason to go to Dakar. It is a business and government hub for West Africa. Modern, high rise city in the center, surrounded by residential neighborhoods, some slums, but not as much as I would have predicted. Preparing for this trip, we read about touts and hustlers and beggars who won't leave you alone, but it doesn't seem that bad - we have seen these, but after a simple "no, merci" they have all gone away. Maybe because we're older. We found a patisserie where we sat and enjoyed cappuccinos and watching the traffic. [caption id="attachment_90" align="alignnone" width="640"] On the street in Dakar[/caption] Then we walked…
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Why Africa?

Why Senegal? West African culture has contributed a lot to the Americas.  I see it in everyday life and in travels around Latin America and especially the Caribbean.  I wanted to see what it was like first-hand. (more…)
More

Istanbul – Shopping

A few short blocks away from the Istanbul Hippodrome is the Grand Bazaar, supposedly with 8000 shops. We were expecting / hoping for a rat’s nest of confusing narrow alleys packed with vendors selling all sorts of stuff. Like this: (Souk in Tunis) But instead we found a shopping mall: We did stop in to a leather shop, where Maria tried on some really beautiful red and black leather jackets, but could not find a size that worked. Upon exiting, we got a little bit of half-hearted hustling from the other leather vendors, but not the true Middle-Eastern harassment that is really part of the experience. We headed straight for…
More

Istanbul – Sultanahmet

We stayed just behind the Blue Mosque on a quiet side street, at the Kaftan Hotel. The location was great, an easy walk to the main sites, in a neighborhood with lots of restaurants and shops, yet on a quiet side street, so we didn’t get a lot of the racket we would have had we stayed in one of the many other nearby hotels. We were in Istanbul for 5 days and didn’t see everything we wanted to. We spent most of our time within walking distance of our hotel – there is a LOT to see all packed into a small area. The Blue Mosque and Hagia Sofia are…
More

Cappadocia

Upon arrival at Ataturk Airport in Istanbul, we hung around the domestic terminal for 5 hours to catch a flight to Cappadocia. Cappadocia is pretty rural, with beautiful landscapes that reminded us of Bryce Canyon in Utah. Instead of sandstone, the rocks are volcanic ash, not nearly as colorful, but the erosion effect is similar, as the “fairy chimneys” are eroded out of the surrounding material by the wind and rain. We stayed at the Cave Hotel Saksağan in Göreme. This was a cave room in a fairy chimney.    They arranged a rental car, so we were able to drive away from the Disney-esque bus crowds and see the region on our own.…
More

Saint Martin, April, 2011

Maria was the number 1 salesperson in her group again last year, so we got to go to St. Martin on Iron Mountain. The event was from Thursday to Sunday; we traded our timeshare so we could go down the previous Sunday for some real vacation. We stayed on the Dutch side at Cupecoy. We rented a little Hyundai from a guy who met us at the airport. Windows down, we rolled off at 30 mph. Over the next several days, we went from beach to beach and dined on fabulous French cuisine. The awards festivities were very nice, though our hosts couldn’t be there (as it turns out they…
More