May 31, 2012

Saint-Louis

Over the weekend, we traveled north to the Saint-Louis Jazz Festival. Saint-Louis is located in the northwest of Senegal where the mouth of the Senegal River meets the Atlantic Ocean. It sprawls over a number of small islands and served as an important trading post and eventually the capital of the French colony of Senegal until 1902 when the capital moved to Dakar. Narrow streets and colonial construction define the main island and tourism is a key element of the local economy. We came in particular to participate in the Jazz Festival, which was started in the early 1990s and has become the most important jazz festival in Africa.

After arriving on Saturday morning we had some lunch and took a tour of the city via horse drawn carts. The tour included a stop at the fish market, another important contributor to the local economy, where we learned something of the process involved in the smoking and drying of the fish. We checked into our hotel in the afternoon and had free time to spend on the beach and in the pool. After supper we returned to town for the festival, which began at 9:30 and included live performances by Roberto Ciotti, Elisabeth Kontomanou, and the Senegalese artist Habib Faye.

Sunday was a slow day of relaxation.

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