It takes me five long impatient days until my manic insecurity dies down, during this time I revisit every single angle and crook of low self esteem, self doubt, and bunches of other guck that surface on the edge of aloneness, unemployment, stillness. Withdrawal symptoms from the constant purposefully, meaninglessly busy of the last three years.
Saint Louis is a perfect place to recover from the multiple neurosis of western big city life. The town in chaotic and serene, lined with trash, and sweeping water views of river and ocean. The historic town has beautiful large houses with bourganvillas spilling over the sides, restful eateries, boulangeries and bars, a mosque lined with praying men along the wall towards the river, art and craft galleries, an antique cruise ship, and loads of sweet, sweet nothing to do. It is an incredibly historic place which used to be capital, when the wind blows a certain way, I can almost think I am in Salvador for a second. There is a similar sense of dignity and place in the world, slow liveliness and communion with the sea.
The historical town is attached to the town on the mainland on one side and to the hydrobase island on the other side.
I stay in hydrobase, with ocean view and a 45 minutes walk into town through bustling streets with everything for sale, weaving through children who want to touch your hand, horse carts, taxis, busses, women in wax print dresses, men in squeaky white shirts contrasting ebony skin, motos, lots and lots of goats, kittens and dogs napping in the shade, laundry drying on lines, a myriad of shops and street vendors selling mangos, mobile credit, electronics, jewelry, milk, baguette, spices, horse food, construction material, and anything else ur heart may desire (no photos from town, too much to take in without whipping out the camera)
I hang around in town with Babacar who arranged a pirogue tour for me the first day, and get to know duzins of people in the span of a few hours and two coffees. Taranga, hospitality, means stories and smiles. There are also a few puppy eyed disbelievers when I return an unfortunate answer to the question ‘madam ou mademoiselle?’
After a few days the hostel fills up. I spend one day roaming around with and translating between two guys who met on bicycle in Morocco and joined paths to cross all the way through Mauritania without having a common language. Another girl is planning for adventures in the Sine Saloum delta and I decide to tag along for a few days before heading back to Dakar. On my last day I can’t shake the melancholy of saying goodbye, there is something tender, thick and sweet in the air, that molasses that makes up the feeling of home.