Ndangane is a rural village in the Fatick region of Senegal. The village resides on the Marigot de Djilor river. Access to water provides the natural landscape with lush green vegetation giving the desert vibrant color. The economy of Ndangane is comprised of two main sectors, tourism and fishing. Boutiques bustling with business from the locals and hotels full of tourists populate the main road of the village creating a downtown feel. We (Caleb and Birch) have been welcomed into this busy community. Finding our own place in the village of Ndangene has involved making friends, working, and exploring the beautiful lush landscape.
The Work Day
Our work day begins with a ride to Felwine Farm via motorcycle. One at a time, we hop aboard the bike and travel five minutes on a narrow road twisting and turning through fields of millet and trees harboring mangoes and coconuts. Upon arrival, we greet our two coworkers, Ibou and Daga, and try our best to communicate. Our duties involve planting and nurturing a market garden, watering lots of trees, and refilling water jugs for our families to drink from. After we finish our work for the day, we have time off to explore the village.
Exploring the Country
After we eat a splendidly prepared lunch with our host families, we often explore the village and the surrounding natural environment. Several times we have followed a path leading us away from the village into vast agricultural land shaded by towering coconut trees. The desert turns from dusty light brown to green before our eyes as we enter the fields. On one occasion wandering through this land, we found a spot to rest under a grand old tree. We sat and talked reminiscing on our SST experience so far.
We sat for an hour or so in solitude. Then a lone farmer greeted us as he walked down the dirt road followed by about 50 cattle. He approached us, we greeted each other apprehensive that we were encroaching on his land. His name was Ibraham, a tall, old man with a welcoming smile. We asked him in broken French if it was ok that we were sitting under this tree in his field. He responded with enthusiasm welcoming us to stay. After we thanked him for his generosity he showed us the millet planted in perfect rows in his field. Ibraham soon wandered off, his cattle following close behind leaving a warm feeling in our hearts.
Exploring the Town
As well as exploring more isolated areas, we often stroll down the main road of the Ndangane. Business activity in the village is centralized on one street. We walk this street regularly. On our walks we get to know several familiar faces. We stop and chat with the owner of a larger grocery store, and later on our walk we run into the charming and kind peanut saleswoman who never hesitates to ask us about our days. When they first met us, some locals treated us like the many other tourists in the area. After seeing us for a few weeks, many now recognized us as “The Americans” because of our prolonged stay.
There are only a couple weeks left to live and learn here in Ndangane. We will miss it and never forget it, once we are gone.