Pictures from Senegal

Sunday, April 4


There are quite a lot of fish consumed in Senegal. Not by me, of course, but it’s a huge part of the country’s economy. So it’s only natural that fishing becomes a part of the tourism world as well. And although I wouldn’t call it a patriotic duty or anything, I definitely felt I had to try it out for myself.

Last weekend, my fellow volunteers and I rented another amazing house on the ocean front coast in the town of Popenguine. The volunteer that lives there organized a fishing trip with some of his friends in town. We woke up early on a Sunday morning and hiked across town to their launching point.

Set back a hundred feet from the shore were the wooden boats resting on logs in the sand between two houses. The boats are long and narrow, like gondolas. I’m sure there’s a better name for them, but I don’t know it. They’re painted vibrant primary colors with the name of the person who owns the boat and a year. A small motor, like the kind you’d use for canoe fishing, was brought out and attached to the back of the boat. It was secured with rope. With the help of about 20 Senegalese men, we pushed two boats out with 5 Americans and 2 Senegalese guides per boat into a very black ocean.

Motoring 12 kilometers west and directly into the ocean, we could hardly make out the shore between the mists. What looked like a four large hooks welded together to be thrown over a medieval castle wall yet to be scaled was actually thrown down to act as an anchor. I couldn’t tell you if it worked.

We sat neatly aligned up the middle of the boat on slabs of wood resting on ledges carved on each side. Leaning to one side caused the whole boat to rock; making movement a coordinated effort. 8x10 pieces of plywood were passed out which contained yards of fishing line wrapped lengthwise around it. At the end was a hook, followed by a weight, and another hook. Raw fish was brought as bait, diced up, and passed out. Luckily, I was able to ask a friend to bait for me.

We dropped our lines and started catching fish about 10 minutes later. I couldn’t tell you what kind, but they were grey and white and about 8 inches long. A line only stayed in for about 4 minutes before it would have to be brought up either with a fish or to remedy a lack of bait.

To pass the time, we chatted or spotted jelly fish floating by. They jelly fish were the size of an upside down cereal bowl. They were mostly red with white spots and white looking tentacles only a few inches long. They could only be seen when they were basically at the surface. They seemed to travel relatively alone- or we couldn’t see the others. And every time we saw one the camera couldn’t be unburied from its waterproof protection fast enough to catch the evidence.

We were told there was quite a current that prevented us from catching the big fish and in larger quantities… so we changed locations every so often. But the water was choppy, so within a short period of time 4 out of 5 Americans on our boat felt seasick and we decided to head back a bit early.

The rest of the afternoon was spent swimming, napping, and drinking beers on the porch while admiring the view. In the evening, we gutted and grilled the fish (about 9 total), and made yassa poulet (onion and vinegar sauce with white rice and chicken) and meatballs to soak up all the beer. In the evening we built a bonfire pit, took several attempts to create a roaring fire, set off rocket fireworks out of the empty beer bottles, and played beer pong. It was hands-down one of my favorite days in Senegal.

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