The best part about our outing to le Lac Rose was discovering the beach located about a half-mile away from the lake. Just past the little cluster of lean-to shacks that served as boutiques for the local artisans, the savannah gives way to sand dunes. This particular area of Senegal serves as part of the race course for the Paris-Dakar motorcycle race that happens every other year. Dan decided to stay with the car while the rest of us sallied forth to see what the beach held in store. We didn’t have to wait long until vendors swarmed around us trying to get us to buy something. In fact they hovered around the car until we got out and then closed in once the doors shut. Most of them left us alone after a little while, but we ended up having a personal escort to and from the beach: one particular guy was determined to make a sale and never left our side. After a while we just ignored him. There were even camels that we could rent for an hour – I’ve never ridden a camel before and some day I’d like to do so, but since there were 7 of us, we decided just to walk.
The best part about the walk down to the shore was listening to little 5-year-old Cecilia’s running commentary on the lake, the sand, the camels, etc, etc, etc. At one point she wasn’t paying attention and almost stepped in some camel droppings. She grabbed on to her mother’s hand and made a disgusted little face while turning her head to watch the pile go out of sight. She kept looking behind her and finally she said to Darla, “Mom, I never want to be a camel.” In response to the inevitable question of ‘why not?’ she replied in a matter-of-fact voice that was slightly annoyed with our stupidity, “Because they poop!!” It was clear by the tone of her voice that she was thinking, Duh, you guys are so dumb. Isn’t it obvious? All of us busted up laughing and I had a really hard time getting myself to stop. It was hilarious.
When we finally crested one of the dunes and looked down at the ocean, I was surprised at how pretty the water was. It was a pale turquoise and since there was a lot of wind that day, there were a lot of white breakers, too. So beautiful!
It was quite a contrast to the beaches in Dakar. There the beaches have large outcroppings of rocks and the water is a much darker blue and turquoise. Here the sand was white, hard-packed, and stretched for miles. In fact that beach extends the 30 km to Dakar. It’s been awhile since I’ve been on such a beautiful beach, and I couldn’t get enough of the water. We waded a fair distance into the water. It stays quite shallow for a while and then gets deep really quickly. The waves were very high and rolled in really fast. At one point Darla asked me to take pictures of her and the kids, and while I was doing that a HUGE wave came in. It startled Darla a bit and much to her chagrin, I caught her expression on camera. And now it’s on the internet. Hahahahahahahaha!
After playing in the water for about 30-45 minutes, we headed back for the car. It wasn’t long until Cecilia decided that she was too tired to walk the half mile back to the car. She insisted that we carry her back, but when we all declined to have her drip all over us, she promptly decided that there was nothing else to do but drag her back to the car. So she plopped down on the ground and wouldn’t budge until her mom got the hint that she was serious. Cecilia literally wanted to be dragged through the sand. Serge and I laughed our heads off – I don’t know if Darla did or not – but I just got a kick out of that child’s problem-solving skills! Of course plowing through thick layers of sand is less tiring than walking! No one could reason with her – she had her mind made up. She went limp on the ground and looked at her mother with a face that said, Well, what are you waiting for?? Drag me!! Darla stared at her, willing her to get back up, but Cecilia just stayed where she was and stared right back at her. Darla shook her head, grabbed her daughter’s arm and off they went. Cecilia left a little furrow in the sand behind her. And she was quite happy doing it. I’d never seen anything like it and I laughed and laughed. After about 30 seconds Darla made Cecilia walk, and she did manage to make it back to the car in one piece (she even ran a bit, so she was definitely fine). She had so much sand caked on her that she looked like a little sand fairy. Fortunately she had a change of clothes in the car, so she didn’t have to sit on a huge pile of sand the whole ride back to Dakar. Ah, that kid makes me smile 🙂
When we got back on the road Dan proudly (and in good humor) informed us that he’d found 3 men who were willing to marry me… all I had to do was pick which one was going to be the lucky guy. One even gave him his card. I couldn’t decide which one I liked the best, so I ended up turning all of them down. It was a hard thing to do – especially since I didn’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings. Plus, I have a Cameroonian friend back at UW who insists upon approving my choice of fiancé, and since I didn’t have an internet connection at the time, I couldn’t get his two cents worth on the subject. So I had to leave them all behind. Shucks.