Friday, August 13, 2010
(As I said before, when every entry of a person's blog starts with "sorry it's been 2 months, but here's the latest..." isn't the best blogger.)
That said, here is the update of the past 2 months haha!
So it is now Friday, August 13th and I have been home in Salt Lake City for two weeks now. I thought it would be a lot weirder being home than it really is. It isn't that bad to be back in Utah. (And why would it be, Utah is great! What was I thinking?) Although I did have like 3 wedding receptions to attend in one evening. There was also a meteor shower last night! Some friends and I went up Millcreek Canyon to watch it.
So that last time I wrote was from Dakar, Senegal (wow that seems like SO long ago!) I stayed with my friend's family just outside of Dakar. They were soo wonderful and welcoming to me. I'm pretty sure after just 2 or 3 days of being treated like a king (and that includes, as the honored guest, being pretty much being forced to eat like king for breakfast, lunch, and dinner!) Don't get me wrong the food there is delicious and I do like to eat, but after two days of eating like a king (and sometimes I would have to eat TWO kingly lunches or dinners in a day because neighbors and friends would invite me to eat, I would come home and they would expect me to eat again. Saying you have already eaten is no excuse. You say "J'ai deja mange" and they say "mange" EAT!) so after 2 days of that I was already noticing a little bit of chubbiness creeping into midsection. After 10 days chez eux (or at their home) I was so ready to be able to eat like a poor student traveler again!
Senegal was so wonderful though, one of my favorite places was a small beach village called
Toubab Dialao where we made friends with the very generous Bifals. (Bifal is the equivalent of the rasta men in Ghana but they have a different religious leader.) They taught us drumming and fed us delicious grilled fish (right from the sea) and were pretty much awesome!
After Dakar, Senegal I had to say goodbye to my travel companion and then after my "home stay" I had to say goodbye (or rather see you next time) to my newly acquired family and friends, to brave the road to Mauritania and eventually to Morocco by myself.
I took the route from Dakar to St. Louis then to Rosso to cross the border (which was terrible by the way....least favorite border in the whole wide world!!!!) where I got really really ripped off by some money changer butt-head at the border. Anyway, that aside getting to Mauritania by myself was nothing but an adventure to say the least. We had to stop at probably 10 million patrol stations to check our passports, just from the border to Nouakchott--from Nouakchott to Nouadhibou is another 10 million, then Nouadhibou through Western Sahara and Morocco another 10 million. But I guess it was for our safety to make sure we didn't hit any landmines or get kidnapped in between any of them. I shared a bushtaxi with a nice Spanish lady, old Dutch dude, and a Mauritanian tour guide (who was married to the Spanish lady who spoke great English.)
All I can say is how happy I was to be through Mauritania and into Morocco (granted there are some really nice people there, but ever since my negative experience at the border it just wasn't my favorite of places, and I was in a hurry to get to Essaouira in time for the music festival.) I had to hitch-hike to get to Dahkla which was super fun.
The truck driver man only spoke Arabic but was apparently saying how he wanted to marry me and that I would not go to Dahkla but stay and marry him haha. But alas, I did go to Dahkla to get a bus to Boujdour where I stayed until I fought my way onto a bus to Agadir, where I could finally arrive in Essaouira for the Gnaoua Music Festival. June 25th-27th 3 days of free music
As I inched my way from Ghana back to the westernized world, I saw a strong European influence in Dakar, but an overwhelming one in Morocco. It was a big slap in the face when they told me I couldn't get on the next bus it was full (buses are never full in Africa...never) and I couldn't just sit in the isle or just strap my bag on the top of the bus, but that I had to PAY for it and I couldn't have it sit with me because of LAWS....what? laws? in Africa? I said this is AFRrica!! and he was very indignant that Nooo it was like Europe. And there you have it, my first slap in the face of the white man's world with laws and regulations and price tags on everything. From that moment onward there were rules and price tags and even garbage cans everywhere...it was crazy to me.
After crossing the Sahara desert, taking numerous ridiculous "european" (aka flippin expensive) buses with RULES and such, I finally arrived in Essaouira for this Gnaoua (a type of traditional Moroccan music) festival that would last 3 days. I saw the house of Jimi Hendrix that is still left there from the late 60s, saw Julian Marley (son of Bob Marley), drank moroccan mint tea too
many times, hung out in spice shops, made amazing moroccan (and other) friends, ate amazing food (couscous, bread, tajine, fruit, fresh squeezed juice...pastries! etc) and chilled on the beach. All in all it was amazing. I could never live there, but I definitely have to go back. I only got to see a tiny bit of Dahkla, Boujdour, I saw a ton of Essaouria--I pretty much lived there, a little bit of Marrakech, stayed in a Berber village in the Atlas Mountains, saw reggae legends and met tons of awesome people, ate amazing food, and had great times.
Marrakech--->London--->Scotland--->Ireland--->Liverpool--->London...--->Salt Lake City!
From Marrakech I flew to London to meet up with a close friend that I made in St. Etienne when I was in France for fall semester. From London we went to Edinburgh (the castle and Arthur's seat as well as an amazing picnic in the hills), Aberdeen (jam sessions are awesome!), Stonehaven (amazinnng castle there!), and Inverness (where we visited the Loch Ness and heard awesome traditional music) in Scotland, before going to Dublin Ireland. There we met up with good friends (again) from St. Etienne, then went to Belfast in Northern Ireland. We visited Armaugh and saw an amazing "Earth from the Air" exhibit by Yann Arthus-Bertrand ( http://earth.google.com/intl/en/earthfromabove/ ) and learned about St. Patrick and all of that stuff. We saw the Giant's Causeway and saw the northern coast. Headed back to England to visit another closer friend from St. Etienne.
Visited The Cavern where the Beatles first got big and just hung out with my friend. Headed back to London and did all of that stuff
(London bridge, the London eye, Westminster evensong, Big Ben, the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace, Hyde Park, Tower Bridge, the Globe theater, Portobello Market, Trafalgar square.....allllll that jazz) before saying "see you next time" to my dear dear friends, and finally heading back to good ol' Salt Lake City, Utah!
So at the end of this I say that traveling is like a drug, it is so addictive! I have learned so much in just a year and a few months of traveling and studying abroad than I have in all my years of university so far. I've learned a lot about myself and especially about the world around me. I miss learning so many languages--french, Twi (Ghana), Ewe (Ghana Togo and a little bit in Benin), Bambara (Burkina, Mali), Wolof (Senegal), and Arabic (Morocco) and seeing so many different cultures and beautiful people!