I found great fulfillment in a boat tour at the Zebrabar, even though it (admittedly) was geared more towards leisure that education or service. Riding on the water, I shifted my focus into the moment, away from the worries I usually indulge in. Between small conversations with my peers, I noticed the smoky gray color of the sky, the first cloud coverage I’d seen since the day I arrived in Dakar. The sky was very big – this was the first time I noticed – and revealed by an unobstructed horizon. I noticed the eerie quality of trees that lined the opposite shore. This atmosphere intensified as we landed at the sand bar, which was both barren of vegetation adn scattered with sea shells. It was otherwordly, how smoothly this flat beach stretched under our gray sky. The whole place echoed of solitude, while being its own accompanying presence. The sand was so soft that our feet sunk in several inches as we climbed out of the boat. It was like walking on the moon. We ran across the sand to the ocean-facing shore to take pictures with our ankles dipped into the Atlantic. We picked up the more ornate-looking sea shells. The look of the wind-swept sand bar, embedded with sea shells, was not unlike that of an Atlantic snow bank. We piled into the boat, to dock at a more wooded shore of the peninsula.
By now, the ambiance was noticeable. If you’ve ever seen the movie rendition of Where the Wild Things are, you’d notice the aged and burnt wood that scattered the landscape, creating an eerie atmosphere. This was similar. A small forest lay between us and the other shore, filled with barren and crusty windswept trees. The atmosphere could be downright forboding, but with an inexplicable tranquility. The area was weathered, but at the moment it was completely peaceful, like the was of a storm. At the other edge of the forest, we were greeted by a long, smooth beach bombarded by cinnamon-brown waves. The consistency of the sand was so fine, it was closer to powdered sugar than table salt. This kind of atmosphere usually gives me chils (Where the Wild Things are was about monsters, after all), but I consciously pushed that aside and ran to the shore to splash in the waves. I spent the next hour tagging along with my peers and trying to body surf, spitting out salt water at intervals. Allyson found calmness in the river at the opposite shore, and Charlie found some excellent shots to kickstart his photography experience.
It wasn’t perfect – I still felt like I was tagging along with my peers instead of really immersing myself in their banter, but I chose not to let that bother me. As we rode the boat back across the river in salt-sticky clothes, I realized that I felt more confident and at peace than I had earlier. This filled me with hope – marking my embarkment on an upward trend.