Along the Corniche
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Guy got to check out the time-consuming process while in the Market.
There are no movie theaters or big grand malls or theme parks, but if you ask me if
there is anything to do in the Dakar – below is the detailed account of what I did last
Sunday, and loved every minute of it.
The temperature was perfect. It felt like OBX North Carolina in spring time. The
breeze was fresh, the sun was bright and the sky was perfect baby blue. Contrary
to my previous week’s note’s declaration that I would be running the marathon,
I didn’t. I stayed at home on Saturday, apart from a quick pizza at the Surf Shop
along Route les Almadies as we enjoy the view of the ocean, read books that
I’ve not had the chance to, and watched Modern Family like it was my job. So
cooped up the previous day, which I preferred, I decided to hit the road on Sunday!
I did not need to travel very far as everything was literally 2 minutes away.
We started at 10:30 am (It was a Sunday, obviously we slept in). My boys, husband
and child, hit the driving range at Hotel les Almadies. Never crowded, you are
guaranteed to get a spot most of the time. And if you are not a golfer and want to
learn, Levi – the golf pro – will be there to help. He also gives private lessons, and
could even take you to the course as your pro guide.
Since I am not a golfer, I went to the Nature SPA inside the hotel. Located below the hotel lobby reception on the right soon as you walk in, it is one of Dakar’s well kept secret (I find peace and tranquility when I visit – really!).
Heading towards the spa on a small ramp, you will find a little store of wellness treasures from candles, massage oils to perfume and scented products for home. These items come from France, and although a little pricey, they are guaranteed to be enjoyed. My first treatment was a mani-pedi. They do these treatments on a small porch facing the ocean, where you can relax and unwind whilst drinking a cup of tea on a comfortable lounge chair. That has already made my day. After that, I jumped straight into their ―Sportif‖ massage treatment. Like a tenderized meat, I was paper weight soon after.
Alas lunch time! Although we’ve discovered that Hotel Les Almadies is still doing Sunday Brunch buffet, which we marked for next time as it truly looked scrumptious, we all drove down to the boat stop for Ngor Island. We went to Maison de Italia, formerly Chez Carla, by boat, which was an experience by itself. Truly a paradise in Dakar! Someone even uttered that it felt like we were in the French Riviera, which I could not contest. It has a pier lined-up with lounge chairs, where you can relax and read a book and sun bathe (do not forget those sunscreens, though). We
had hearty meals of grilled seafood, huge fish and gambas, whilst my pasta lovers had Spaghetti Basil and Arrabi-
ata! As we wait for our meals, we played at a tide pool, which is perfect for a dip and playing for kids.
And of course, Ngor Island is perfect enough to explore by foot!
We made it back home at 5pm, having a mini-holiday just around the corner, which we didn’t need to drive or get stuck in traffic for – priceless! Try it sometime; it made us realize how amazing it is to be in Dakar this time of the year!
I’ll start by saying that this isn’t me and that these aren’t my photos from the trip. The are images from a Google search but are the same facility that I saw.
The Franciscan sisters have run this amazing orphanage since 1948 for children and infants under the age of two. We’ll be spending part of Saturday afternoons volunteering here after we move in August. Dakar La Pouponniere has been one of three charities that ISD has focused their outreach/service learning on.
I was pretty scared about what I was going to see when we went into La Pouponniere (French for nursery). There have been plenty of Dateline specials over the years about different orphanages around the world and none have necessarily been able to shine a positive light on any of them, at least that I have seen on television.
La Pouponniere is run by Franciscan nuns and is a bright and cheery place. The walls have been recently painted pink with Winnie the Poo mini-murals around (think pediatrician office waiting room). There are two sections-one for infants and one for toddlers under 24 months. All in all, there are currently ninety-three children in the Sister’s care. Guy and I had a chance to meet the nuns, as well as some of the many young women that they have working as “nannies-in-training” that help to care for the children. There is a small school for those young women that is part of the facility. My understanding is that the young women are from rural villages and that they receive education (think one-roomed school house) and job training that will be of help to them in finding paid employment upon adulthood. It’s also my understnading that the majority of the infants/toddlers are at La Pouponniere because the mother either died in childbirth in a area where they had no access to medical care or the infant was abandoned. Without a nursing mother, the families do not have access to formula or the ability to take care of the infant. The sisters take care of the infants until they are 2, eating table food and able to return to their family. Families can visit on Sundays if they are able to get to the city.
There are a few YouTube videos of La Pouponniere that different volunteers have made. It’s a pretty amazing place.
Guy started with the infants and I started with the toddlers. It was a hot day and there didn’t appear to be air conditioning, but there was a nice breeze coming through the windows. Guy ended up with some of the older toddlers outside with another volunteer playing with toys in a little courtyard. I stayed with the toddlers, played toddler games, gave hugs, rocked some, helped give a bottle to one (the bottles had little metal hang tags with numbers on them that identified which child got which bottle). The young women helpers were playing with children, handing out bottles, taking a couple at a time for a bath, etc. I’m sure they have many other things that keep them busy non-stop. While I didn’t have enough French to communicate with the girls, they were very smiley, sang and played music for the children and seemed very personable. My inability to communciate with the girls and nuns as well as I’d like to, will be one big reason that I keep brushing off my very rusty French.