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    Posted August 19, 2014 by
    Dakar, Senegal
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    A Taste of Senegal on Île de Gorée

    Senegal is colorful, lively, artistic, musical, and poetic. The people are warm and friendly and the food is a marvelous fusion of French cooking techniques and West African ingredients.

    I got a chance to visit on a layover on my way to a work assignment in Mali. I spent a day visiting Île de Gorée (Gorée Island) where I found a wonderful slice of Senegalese life.

    Gorée lies a short 20 minute ferry ride from the Liaison Maritime Dakar-Gorée ferry terminal in Dakar. The ferry docks in front of a small beach that is ringed with outdoor restaurants that are perfect for catching a taste of the seafood that Senegal is so well known for. The island itself is small and because vehicular traffic is not allowed, it is very walkable. Colorful stone buildings with terracotta roofs make up the town area. As you walk towards the center of the island, it gets hillier and when you reach the top, you have wonderful views of the Atlantic Ocean and Dakar in the far horizon. The island is a bit of an artists’ colony – there are creative works on display all around the island. Pops of vibrant colors and creative West African designs surround you everywhere you go!

    Gorée Island is a UNESCO World Heritage site and its most famous cultural landmark is the Maison des Esclaves (House of Slaves) with its infamous Door of No Return. Looking at the bright colors of the building and hearing the sound of laughter of a family that was standing nearby, it was somehow hard for me to believe that I was standing near rooms where African men, women, and children were purportedly enslaved before being boarded onto ships and sent off to lands unknown. Whether or not the House of Slaves actually played a role in the Atlantic slave trade is a matter of controversy - a dispute between those who assert that countless slaves spent time here and those who believe that the house was the home of a wealthy trader and nothing more. Whatever the truth is, the House of Slaves, which is now a museum, serves as a powerful symbol of a very painful time in human history - one that should never be re-lived. For that reason alone, I encourage others to go and visit it.

    Image #1. View of Gorée Island from the ferry arriving over from Dakar.
    Image #2. Statue of a freed man and a woman slave. He’s just broken his chains.
    Images #3 and #4. Views of the House of Slaves.
    Images #5 and #6. Views walking the island.
    Image #7. World War II Monument.
    Image #8. View of Île de Gorée, the Atlantic Ocean, and in the far distance, the city of Dakar.
    Image #9. Saint Charles Borromée, the oldest church in Senegal.
    Image #10. Some of my favorite moments spent on the island were with the adorable young children whose giggles always brought a big smile to my face.
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