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Photo by Elke Schmidt, Senegal Bridge Year Program.

Walking in a Winter Wonderland (Dec 28 – Jan 10)

Dear Friends, Families, and Fans of BY Senegal 2017-18,

We hope this note finds you well and enjoying the holiday season. December for us has been filled with great food, family, and lots of delicious ataaya. After all of this feasting we are preparing to set out on one of the biggest excursions of the year— a journey to the culturally distinct and geographically gorgeous southern Senegal, where the singsong cadence of the Pulaar language mixes with many other minorities languages and dialects, where green vegetation replaces the golden sand of our home here in Yoff, and where people farming millet and fuñio will invite us into their beautiful homes of mud and straw to get to know a beautiful village way of life that is still thriving and gives us a glimpse of the seeds of how humans could perhaps thrive again on this planet in the future. Like so many people in rural Senegal, we will walk from village to village carrying our possessions on our backs or heads. We will stop in small hamlets to take water from the local forage, mingle with Fulaani cattle herders, and explore waterfalls hidden in oases of mango and cashew trees that are home to Senegal’s last remaining chimpanzees. After our trek to the famed waterfall of Dindefelo, we will head to the Kolda region in the southwest for a homestay in the Pulaar village of our beloved support instructor and language teacher, Samba Sow.

Our winter excursion will feature cameos from old friends and new. During our travels On-Site Director Babacar Mbaye will take a few days out for vacation with his wife and daughters and our group will be supported by Dragons instructor Rishi Bhandari, who is visiting us from Nepal and is excited to trek somewhere very different from his home in the Himalayas. We will also be working with our long-time friend and trekking guide Saliou Diallo in Kedougou, and with our friend and local support staff Mamoudou Ndieye, an accomplished djembe teacher, kora player, and homestay coordinator. For a time we will also hopefully have the company of support instructor Samba Sow as we visit his village (called Temanto Samba) near the town of Kolda.

As we sit out under millions of stars and eat peanuts fresh from the ground in our host families’ fields, we plug into a different rhythm of life and as such will be a bit unplugged from our usual rhythm of Skype dates and phone calls to loved ones back home. We appreciate your patience with us as we are out of contact— you can expect to hear more from us again when we return to Dakar on January 10th. Know that instructors will be reachable and in contact with the Dragons administration via local cell phones should any urgent communication needs arise. We will do our very best after the fact to post some lovely photos and reflections on this Yak Board, inshallah.

Here is the itinerary for our winter excursion:
Itinerary (be sure to check out the map in the photos)
December 28 – Travel to the bustling southern mining town of Kedougou
December 29 – Spend morning in Kedougou, drive to the village of Bandafassi
December 30 – Trekking (Bandafassi to Ibel)
December 31 – Trekking (Ibel to Dindefelo)
January 1 – Trekking (camping and hiking around Dindefelo)
January 2 – Trekking (camping and hiking around Dindefelo)
January 3 – Travel to Kolda
January 4 – Spend the day and night in Kolda getting ready for our rural homestay
January 5 – Travel to Temanto Samba (BY support staff Samba Sow’s village)
January 6 – Temanto Samba homestays
January 7 – Temanto Samba homestays
January 8 – Temanto Samba homestays
January 9 – Begin travel back to Dakar
January 10 – Arrive back in Dakar

Wishing you a very happy holiday season from Yoff!

Babacar, Jenny, & the BY Senegal Crew