Wednesday, January 06, 2016

Senegalese Hustling, Continued

Well we walked out of our hotel, ready to start a new day in the shining sun of Dakar, Senegal. And who was there to greet us? Ibrahim the taxicab barnacle from yesterday fame! The Guinness World Record holder for worst hint taker ever. He tried to spit more game but I was not having that. We walked away from him while saying no multiple times and hopped in a cab. He tried to get in but we weren’t having that neither. Ibrahim you suck.

I put on my local African disguise in preparation for the journey. You can never be too careful.

Today we decided to take a little touristy trip to Île de Gorée. Our taxi driver stopped at the docks where the ferry would leave but also took the additional step of walking us over to an English speaking guide.

We had little lunch while we waited for the next ferry.

There was a very amusing African music video channel on.

The ferry was rocking that foreigner punishing pricing scheme I’ve come to admire. Can you imagine public transport in the US charging non US citizens quadruple the normal fare? Oh the fun that would ensue.

We’re sitting on the ferry and a lady comes over and strikes up a conversation. Where are you from, what’s your name, etc. At the end she’s like, “oh I have a souvenir shop. You should stop by.”
Optimistic Evan thinks that was a nice conversation with a local. And it was nice, I would agree, but it what it really was was a commercial. He went on about his 24 hour deep understanding of the local culture but five minutes later we have the exact same conversation with another woman about her little trinket shop. I’d say we had this talk five or six times before we reached our destination.

The island was very pretty with a bit of a Caribbean vibe, with colonial style buildings with bright pastel exteriors. There were narrow streets bright with color and flanked by flowers.

There is a building in particular called the House of Slaves (Maison des Esclaves) where supposedly many slaves passed through. It was definitely worth it to have the guide because there were few signs on the island and what did exist was in French. The house's Wikipedia page downplays its importance in the slave trade: it seems to be more of a symbolic place. There was a Senegalese guy with his Finnish wife (predictably they met in Spain). The house brought him to tears.

We stopped at an artist’s little hut where he was making like paintings with different colored sand.

The other couple that joined us while we were walking bought one, but neither of us did. I would say this was the moment where my trip to Gorée took a turn for the worst. I swear I was asked 10 times by our guide and by the minions working there which one I wanted. Thing was, I wanted zero of them. I’m trekking across Africa and the last thing I need is a damn painting made out of SAND in my bag jacking up my stuff.

The flag is of the Sovereign Military Hospitaller Order of Saint John of Jerusalem of Rhodes and of Malta, and the other is Senegal.

As we continued walking more and more of these women selling trinkets were following us asking us to buy their crap. Again, I bet I told individual women no 20 times, no joking. They followed us all the way back to the damn beach where we got our ferry back. And they knew our names! The damn ladies who were chatting us up on the ferry were all waiting for us. It was sort of like a hell where you have to meet everyone you crossed in your previous life. We did get there by ferry... hmm.. “Why won’t you buy something from me, John? You promised. It will be very bad for me if you don’t buy something.” “John you said you’d come to my shop. I talked to you first remember?” Our horrible guide just stood by and watched this mayhem that he had purposefully walked us into. I was at the point where I was starting to get those adrenaline shakes you get when you think you’re about to get in a fight.

Perhaps most horrible of all was our guide’s name was Papy. Not pronounced pappy either, where at least I could pretend that I was a young Oklahoman farm hand. Nope. Pronounced papi, like I was a Cuban man’s young boyfriend.

Here’s his card if you hate yourself and would like to be shown where you can buy 300 necklaces made out of coconut shells.

I saw the one lady that I had legitimately enjoyed talking to on the ferry named Kumba and I was actually like relieved to see her. She still wanted me to buy her crap, but she was much more human about it so I bought something from her. That didn’t deter the other little mosquitoes. One demanded that I buy something with the change she saw Kumba hand me. And the price I paid for those trinkets was pretty laughably high, I was just so brow beaten that I didn’t have the willpower to complain much. Loyal readers, do yourself a damn favor and do not go to Gorée Island. IT MAY BE THE WORST TOURIST EXPERIENCE I HAVE EVER HAD.

How I felt after leaving Gorée Island.

You can see the African Renaissance Monument all the way from the hotel. It’s pretty darn big. Bigger than the Statue of Liberty I understand. The tallest statue in Africa. Much more awesome than that is that it was built by the North Koreans. Tell you what, those Northies know how to build giant Soviet looking statues.

On the drive over there Cheikhou Ndiaye our cab driver was pulling all sorts of antics. At one point he pulled the key out of the ignition in order to unlock the glove compartment… while he was still driving the car. A hubcap popped off and went rolling down a hill, so he jumped out and went after it. Oh the fun we have. We liked the guy enough that we booked him to drive us to Gambia in the morning. Plus the parts that were falling off of his taxi seemed to be only minor inconveniences.

Cheikhou's English wasn't so great so when he parked the car on the side of the road and started running I was a bit alarmed.

Slate's "The Controversial Senegalese Monument Built by North Korean Propaganda Artists" (here):

"So how did members of North Korea's propaganda art factory wind up sculpting a monument in Senegal? Simple: it was all about the money. Mansudae Overseas Projects can build mammoth statues relatively cheaply, and has done so for 18 cash-strapped African and Asian nations thus far."

Well we saw the giants and headed back to the hotel.

We were about to leave Dakar possibly (hopefully) forever, so I wanted to give the bars another chance and not have that nasty one from yesterday ruin my impression. Well I picked one from the Lonely Planet that sounded decent called Le Viking. Vikings never hurt anyone, right? We went through the whole spiel, bargained with the new taxi driver outside the hotel, drove all the way over there, walked took five steps into the bar, noted the prostitutes, and turned around and walked out. I’ve been calling them P-Toots to save time since the subject comes up in conversation so often these days. Can’t catch me dirty ol p-toots!

We had an interesting dinner next door at a shawarma place called Ali Baba and then went back to the hotel with another solid mission failure under our belts.

1 comment:

  1. The Guinness World Record holder for worst hint taker ever. - nice.