It was a rough flight heading down to Dakar, Senegal this morning. I was seated next to a mother with two children – she was having trouble getting them buckled in so a flight attendant came over – leaned over me and when she straightened out, mashed her elbow into my face. Then after we were in the air, the mother called the same flight attendant over to open the overhead compartment and when she did so my laptop immediately fell down, with one of the corners dropping straight onto my head. That one really hurt. Then to top if off, I opened the vinegar packet to use on my salad and the vinegar squirted all over my face and into my eyes. That one also hurt.
They moved me to an exit row where none of the seats reclined but luckily it was empty so I just stretched out – not wanting to attract any more attention!
Rough start aside, I am now in Senegal. I find the people here extremely warm and welcoming. We visited the island of Goree where we found crowds of people – many of whom were singing and some dancing – especially on and around the pier and on the ferry (about 20 minute ride from the mainland). Colorful in character, some of these people were brilliantly dressed, with a vivid array of colors brightening a rather dull day.
Goree also goes by the name, house of slaves and a visit here is a visceral reminder of those horrific times. The island was first settled in 1444 by the Portuguese. Today reminders of the slave trade are preserved – absolute horrific conditions for those enslaved including dark small rooms which were filled with people for days on end.
We walked through the ‘door of no return’ where millions before us walked – except in their case this was the last door before being forced on a boat, ripped away from their homeland and family – never to see the African continent again. And one can visit a number of the destination forts in the Caribbean where the slaves were brutally tortured.