Monday, 16 July 2012

Isles Madeleines

On Sunday, I got the boat to the Isles Madeleines, off the coast of Dakar. Dakar's more an 'experience' place than a 'things to do' place, and this was one of the few 'things to do' that I hadn't yet done, so when someone suggested it I jumped at the chance.

To get there, you go to the beach-where-they-bring-in-the-fish-next-to-the-market-for-the-tourists. It has an actual name, but I don't know what it is, but those instructions have always worked for me. You used to be able to get there on a legit boat, but after the national parks killed a fisherman there a few years ago while he was fishing illegally, the trips were stopped. So instead, you find a fisherman willing to take you over in his pirogue.

Ride negotiated, we got into the pirogue. On clapping eyes on it, I wouldn't sure we'd all fit (we were a group of 14), and considered refusing to go, but in the end I decided that they weren't so far out that I couldn't swim back if I needed to so it was worth the chance. Packed in, we chugged through the sea, with unexpectedly large waves throwing the boat around, and the bottom getting steadily fuller with water. I was with Elena, who was on the trip to Lac Rose, and we were literally clinging to one another till we got there.

Happily, we arrived safe, rounding the islands - volcanic rocks thrown out of the sea with a white frosting courtesy of the birds - and entering a small lagoon in the centre. We piled out onto the beach, explored a little, had a picnic, had a swim, then Elena and I headed off to explore. From the other side of the island you could see across to Dakar - but felt a million miles away. We climbed down to a tiny beach with massive breakers chasing us up onto the rocks, and with a baobab stretched out along the cliff seeking soil. Scrambling back up, we carried on around, climbing onto rocky outcrops and finding an abandoned building, with a yard and more baobabs.

Eventually we'd got all the way round, looking down on our friends in the lagoon, before scrambling down the rocks to walk around the base of the lagoon, getting back round to the beach for a nice cooling swim and some madeleines for the Isles Madeleine.

Later, we piled back into the pirogue and headed home. Somehow it wasn't as scary this time, though I'm not sure the waves were much smaller. Then my friend gave me a lift home, and I spent the evening reading Dickens and having a glass of wine. Perfect Dakar day, and I couldn't have asked for a better for my last Sunday in Senegal.

1 comment:

  1. I have an Isle! Woop! Last sunday in Senegal before the Mali adventure... exciting times. Very excited about having you home for a bit very soon :) x