Traveling – Sine Saloum

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…I hadn’t truly taken the time to explore all that the country had to offer.

About 2.5 – 3 hours away from Dakar, Senegal’s capital city, is a tranquil, restful community known as Sine Saloum. I have been living in Senegal for 5 years and needless to say, I hadn’t truly taken the time to explore all that the country had to offer. Part of the reason was/is because I love to be at home – when I am not working, exercising or spending time with friends and family – I am home. Second – I generally don’t like to drive; I do it because well I need to get where I am going and its easier and convenient to be able to jump into your car and go – but I would LOVE to have someone driving me around wherever I need to go and not have to worry about how I am feeling or being fatigued because I’ve driven all day to get there. Third – traveling costs money and sometimes I need to save my ducketts and not come off of them so willy nilly.

With any adventure, you have options to go with an experience i.e. budget friendly or you can opt to spend a little more, for a stay in a nicer place. I realized a long time ago (I’ve been traveling since I was 4) that I like comfort. Now – if given the chance, I will always pay a little extra for where I lay my head to have a peace of mind that is unmatched, sheets/towels warm water to bathe and food that makes me drool. This was brought on with a travel experience from long ago to Paris to see Youssou Ndour in concert for a fun filled couple of days only to have to stay literally at a roach motel because I left the accommodations planning to someone else………topic for another post – don’t let that happen to you. Fourth – I am an educator and my time off is tied to the school calendar. Summers are always a free time for me – but then it’s also quite hotttttt in Senegal and frankly I weighed where I’d like to be during this time and 9 times out of 10 visiting my mom and siblings in NYC generally wins out along with traveling and exploring some parts unknown around the globe (RIP Anthony).

So what is a girl to do? Well! Take advantage of a weekend or mid-week break and plan a get away. And that is exactly what I did!

Where Did I Go?

Tee and I decided that we would go to Fimela. Fimela is located in Sine Saloum. Sine Saloum is a region in Senegal located between The Gambia and the Petit Cote (Saly, Mbour area). Approximately 1,000,000 inhabitants call this region home. The area is about 12,000 KM in size. Sine Saloum were the two kingdoms of the Serer people who were competitors long ago. The Saloum Delta along with the Saloum National Park are designated UNESCO Heritage sites.

More notably tourists tend to head to Joal-Fadiouth – famous for being the home to Senegal’s first president Léopold Sédar Senghor and clam shell covered island and cemetery with Muslims and Christians buried alongside each other. Mar Lodj was also a consideration, especially to be able to explore the rural communities that we don’t see given our life in Dakar.

We opted for the less obvious places that many people may not travel to which was Fimela. After asking around to all of our friends who had visited the area and considering their recommendations – we settled on Souimanga Hotel.  As I said, I enjoy comfort – and for a bit extra, that’s exactly what I got. The pictures probably don’t do the place justice. It was GORG! As TERANGA is a key component in what makes Dakar/Senegal special – we got an abundance of hospitality from the wait staff down to the maintenance personnel to the owner of the establishment.

We were tired from the drive and decided to have lunch, lay around and check out the facilities.  Our exploration took place of Sine Saloum would have to take place early the next day as it was HOTTTT. 108*F to be exact when we arrived.

We changed into our swimwear and proceeded to lay around the pool and just indulge in some self care….which included for me reading a book and taking in what the environment had to offer. I must admit, I don’t do enough of this and it was nice to literally lie around the pool and do nothing. Sometimes in our desire to get all that we’ve planned for ourselves within a day, week, month completed – we miss the point that it is also important to take some time – even if it’s an hour or two – to check in with ourselves.

Some of my self-care rituals include:

  • A mani or pedi
  • A facial – usually at home
  • Crying
  • Volunteering at the orphanage and spending time with those cuteeeee babies
  • Visiting my grandma and listening to her stories of what life was like when she was a 20 something year old
  • Calling my sister in North Carolina and laughing out loud just because
  • Dancing around my house without the constraints of clothes
  • Listening to good music
  • Spending time with friends over a home cooked meal
  • Being Still and in the moment as much as possible
  • Putting my phone away
  • Re-examining and re-evaluating where I am and where I wanna go

Our visit to Fimela allowed me to – take a day. The next morning we rose and went on our personal tour of the Sine Saloum Delta. We encountered nature and its elements and were marveled at the beauty and stillness that is the open air. We strolled slowly down the delta in our 3 person pirogue – stopped to observe, chat, take pics and enjoy the scene. We learned about our guide Dame Ndiaye and his company and what ties him to share his piece of Senegal with tourists. I definitely would say that Tee and I were in the moment – and maybe that’s what we needed.

When you find yourself in Senegal – and I do hope you come for a visit – check out Fimela.

Here are some pics of our Saloum adventure:

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