Today we did one of the neatest things we’ve done since arriving in Dakar Senegal: a guided tour of Goree Island. I had been to the island once before to see my friend finish a marathon of a swim race, but I’d never really looked around. Getting the tour was the only way to go; our guide spoke awesome English and knew everything there was to know about the history of Goree. If we hadn’t used him, we wouldn’t have known anything about what we were looking at. If you’re planning a visit and want to learn some really cool stuff, send me an email or leave a comment and I’ll give you his contact information.
This baobab on Goree is “just a baby,” according to the guide. It’s about 150 years old and baobabs can live to be more than 1,000 years old. The tree is a sort of national symbol for Senegal and many people believe it possesses spiritual powers. Villages will often have a central baobab tree in which they cut a big hole used for both birth and death ceremonies. Newborn babies and people who have recently died are put into the center of the tree (er, not at the same time) and are blessed by the tree’s spirits.
Why is the bottom of the tree painted white? Both to keep out termites and so people won’t accidentally walk into at night.
Rachael Cullins is a twentysomething American girl living in Dakar, Senegal, with her husband and two dogs. She blogs about her adventures in Senegal and travels elsewhere in West Africa. She will reside in Dakar until summer 2013, when she and her family will move to another foreign post as part of her husband’s career with the U.S. government. In addition to West Africa, she has traveled to France, Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany, Italy and Costa Rica and plans to continually add to that list.