Day 8 |
Sep 23, 2012

Dakar, Senegal

By Christian Walter, Historian

Co-ordinates: 14° 40’ 31” N, 17° 25’ 31” W (Noon position, alongside in the Port of Dakar)
Weather: overcast with occasional short showers, turning to hot and only partially clouded

Today was already the eighth day of our voyage –where and how did the time go so fast?

After one week of sun and heat it seemed to be time for a change: during the early hours the sky was overcast and the Silver Explorer went through several very restricted squalls. Fortunately the sky opened more and more, and the rain only loomed in the distance.

As we were still on our way to Dakar during the morning, Stefan took the opportunity to talk about “Mining in Africa: Gold and Diamonds”. Using his background as a geologist, Stefan explained why gold and diamonds are where they are found, how they got there and about the feasibility to extract both items. Interesting facts were: 1 gram of gold in one ton of rock still yields profit, about 50% of all gold found is sold as jewelry in India, and, believe it or not, the biggest/largest gold nugget ever found (known as “Welcome Stranger”) was about 60x30 centimeters and held 62 kilograms of gold! I would have certainly welcomed that “Stranger”…

While Stefan talked we were already approaching Dakar, and shortly after 10 a.m. we could see Goree Island, our destination for this afternoon’s excursion.

We were just rounding the island to come into the harbor when Stefan finished his talk. Most everyone rushed back to their suites to get their cameras. Most clouds had disappeared and no sight of rain at all, therefore suntan lotion was “in”, rain-gear was “out”.

An early lunch permitted us to make most of the afternoon, and by 01:30 p.m. we were off to the ferry that was going to take us across to the UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Site of Goree Island.

It was just a five-minute drive to the ferry terminal and a thirty-minute wait for the ferry to be boarded. Some 250 locals joined us on the 20-minute ride to Goree –Sunday afternoon at the beach seemed to attract a lot of young Senegalese, plus many vendors of souvenirs. The sad side of Goree’s history, that the island used to be a minor holding station for slaves, did not seem to bother the local visitors.

On the small island (900x350 meters) we walked to the “Maison des Esclaves” (House of Slaves), the IFAN Historical Museum located within a former fort, and the Church St. Charles de Borromée. Unfortunately our presence did not go unnoticed, and we were constantly offered mass-produced souvenirs and trinkets by vendors surrounding our groups. During the walking-tour an art gallery was visited where sand-paintings were available and we could even see how they were “painted”.

As it was getting very hot during our walk we enjoyed refreshments at a local restaurant overlooking the still-overcrowded beach before it was time to relocate to the pier –just to make sure we would all fit onto the ferry.

Most everyone was happy to arrive back at the Silver Explorer for a cold drink and a hot shower, and Robin announced that Recap & Briefing would be postponed for tomorrow.

The Restaurant (and Galley team) had prepared a very tasty dinner and, as a surprise, had a special Senegalese selection of food based on rice, peanuts and chicken- a nice touch to be able to taste the local food….

At half past eight the Silver Explorer set sail for our next destination: Banjul in The Gambia.