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Wednesday, February 25, 2015

St. Lucia

 View from the porch at our "Avocado" Cottage at Natures's Paradise

 Overlooking Soufriere and the Pitons

 at the Rainforest Hideaway restaurant, Marigot Bay

 relaxing with a rum punch

 view from the pool at Nature's Paradise, Marigot Bay

Janet's pet for the day, a friendly boa constrictor

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Kaolack and Sobo Badé / L'Engouement

On the way from Sedhiou north to Kaolack we stopped in a village for the driver of our "Taxi Brousse" (vintage 7-passenger Peugeot station wagon) to pick up a large bag of charcoal to take to his family. Charcoal is used to cook. We just wish that solar cooking would take hold at least to reduce somewhat the toll on the forests which are fast disappearing. Where there were dense forests fifty years ago, now there are fields and many fewer
trees in most places, even in the Casamance region of Senegal.

(below: what we want to see, right: trees cut down for cooking)


Baptism celebration in Kaolack

At Sobo Badé we enjoy the sea-side restaurant as well as the sculpture garden and beautiful architecture of this dance recital space and artists' retreat.

Intercultural Dimensions participant Prof. Jay Lutz discusses African literature with Gérard Chenet at the L'Engouement artists' space (see dance stage below)

Intercultural Dimensions at Home in Sedhiou

Our home in Sedhiou is Diedhioucounda. John lived and worked with Alioune Diedhiou fifty years ago and we have kept close ties with the Diedhiou family since then. Senegalese tea (attaya) is a wonderful institution, at least it seems so. See,

Gabbing and drinking Attaya under the Mango tree.


Preparing Attaya in the afternoon

A mid-day meal of scrumptious Maafe was prepared by Néné Diedhiou


(Above) A security person is in charge of seeing that people wash and disinfect their hands before entering the City Hall of Sedhiou. There is no Ebola in Senegal but hygiene is getting a boost all over the country. For example, here is a wall poster about the importance of washing our hands regularly.

Samba Diedhiou surfs the web with a clé d'internet with Ibou Diedhiou's suggestions

Tabokoto's new house to raise chickens

It is not easy for a young man to find a job in Senegal, even a bright, get up-and-go fellow with a college degree. After a year of frustration, Bouly Diedhiou, the youngest of Alioune Diedhiou's children decided to start a business. So, with help from several comrades he founded and directs an association named Tabokoto to raise and sell chickens. The name is taken from a tree where people gather. Tabokoto succeeded in getting grant money to begin their project with a building and a hundred chicks purchased from a source in the Netherlands and necessary supplies.

So far the chicks are thriving.

a meeting of Tabokoto's members

(above and below) Bouly organized a neighborhood clean-up with the Tabokota members.


(Above) Imam 
Janet Diedhiou, named after our Janet

Monday, January 19, 2015

On the Road to Sedhiou, Senegal

Where is Sedhiou?

Map of Senegal

Sedhiou is a town of about 20,000 people located just a little north of the border with Guinea-Bissau; It is on the west side of the Casamance Estuary, a bit north of where it turns northward. You can see it on this map.
Leaving Dakar, our breakfast stop was at Chez Anwar in Kaolack. They generally do not offer breakfast but they kindly made an exception for us. We pushed on to Tamabcounda for a lunch of grilled chicken and fries at Chez Francis, going around The Gambia rather than through it due to the numerous problems presented by crossing that slim country. Tambacounda is known for its extreme heat during much of the year. It is said that it is so hot that a goat and a lion will sleep under the same tree. Tamba is the name of a tree found in the area and "counda" means "home of" in Mandinka. When we passed through, it was not hot but this is the coolest period of the year.

It was actually a bit chilly at Kaolack in the early morning.

Janet does some marketing in Velingara.

We turned south at Tambacounda and passed through the town of Velingara and on to a small village between Velingara and Kolda, in the south of Senegal, (known as the Haute Casamance). There, we had a delightful visit with two Peace Corps volunteers who live and work in the area. The family of one of the volunteers prepared a delicious dinner for us. Velingara gives its name to a meteor that struck the earth millions of years ago and created a crater thirty miles in diameter, known as the Velingara Circular Structure. The remnants of the crater are not visible today except from space.

At her village's health facility, Peace Corps Volunteer Barbara Michel discussed efforts to improve post-natal child nutrition.

Janet Ghattas, an early '60s Peace Corps volunteer in Senegal, and current PCV Barbara Michel exchanged stories and ideas about Peace Corps then and now -- the changes are great and fascinating.

This is "funio," a food found in southern Senegal that is very nutritious and tastes a bit like quinoa. It is expensive in Senegal because of the difficulty in preparing the grain for cooking. We first learned of this food when we visited Kedougou in the extreme southeast of Senegal, but it can be purchased in other areas of southern Senegal. We brought some home. Below is a link that explains more and offers a recipe:

Janet gets a hug from the owner of Chez Bintou in Kolda -- we can always count on Bintou to provide a hearty lunch, perhaps a Maafe. What is Maafe? It's a delicious Mandinka dish involving peanuts that Janet makes at home from time to time. Here's a link to a recipe:
It can be made with just vegetables or with chicken as well as with beef.

Intercultural Dimensions 2015 in Senegal -- Dakar area

A half dozen or so years ago, our late friend Bill Griff gave the financial support needed to begin a school garden at the Lycée Thiaroye outside of Dakar. The then principal Abdou Salam Deme was enthusiastic about the possibilities of a garden especially as there was a significant amount of land available for this use and the students and faculty were equally enthusiastic. As the garden grew, support was forthcoming from a European organization and the municipality, so a pump and a water basin were installed as well as drip irrigation. The garden has flourished with technical assistance provided by the Peace Corps.

At the Lycée Thiaroye school garden the Principal, Mr. Kao Diaby explains the importance of the co-curricular educational benefits of the garden as well the economic and health aspects of the project

The Lycée Thiaroye Garden Club with Peace Corps members and ID

Ben Diogaye Beye noted journalist, cineast met with the ID team to discuss his work and that of Ousmane Sembene with whom he collaborated.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Another Poem that I like: about John Kennedy

[I do not know the name of the author]

It wasn't what he was,
But what he represented.
It wasn't what he did,
But what he inspired.
It wasn't who he was,
But what he made us think we were.
It wasn't how he lived,
Bur how he changed the way
We lived.

2 Poems by Paul Verlaine

“Chanson de l’Automne,” Paul Verlaine
Listen to this song in French by Marlène Dietrich for perfection of sound. (Scroll down for translation.)
Les sanglots longs
Des violons
De l’automne
Blessent mon coeur
D’une langueur
Tout suffocant
Et blême, quand
Sonne l’heure,
Je me souviens
Des jours anciens
Et je pleure
Et je m’en vais
Au vent mauvais
Qui m’emporte
Deçà, delà,
Pareil à la
Feuille morte.

Spoken by Marlene Dietrich at


La lune blanche luit dans les bois by Paul Verlaine

La lune blanche
Luit dans les bois ;
De chaque branche
Part une voix
Sous la ramée1...

O bien-aimée.

L'étang reflète,
Profond miroir,
La silhouette
Du saule noir
Où le vent pleure... 

Rêvons, c'est l'heure.

Un vaste et tendre
Semble descendre
Du firmament
Que l'astre irise... 

C'est l'heure exquise

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Brunch in Southern Morocco

Once upon a time, two Peace Corps volunteers took a trip through the anti-Atlas mountains. On the third day they found themselves very hungry having not eaten since the day before. As they left the mountains and began to cross a broad valley toward the city of Taroudant, they spied a shack by the road with a Coca Cola sign. As they approached the shack, a car speeding along from the opposite direction stopped. Six men in the car descended, greeted the volunteers and insisted on presenting them with a meal of chicken, bread and dates. This delicious, generous gift they shared with two fellows who were just hanging out there. Alas, they had no Coca Cola to go with it.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

a few favorite sunsets and sunrise shots

Sunset near Arches National Park, Utah

Sunset at Beirut 

Sunset, Georgetown, Maine

Sunrise over the Casamance River, Sedhiou, Senegal

Sunset at Sedhiou

Sunset on Boulder Mountain, Utah

Sunset at Waikiki Beach

Sunset at Temento Samba, Kolda, Senegal