The four hour ride to the old city of St. Louis, the first french settlement in Africa and Senegal’s orginal capital gave us a taste of African countryside. Passing through small towns we had a chance to see the local crafts and taste the juice of fruit endemic to Senegal.

Arriving  in St. Louis, a city surrounded by water but sheltered from the ocean by it’s sand banks, we were taken into a neighborhood with small concrete homes where Karim’s family resides. Through the fabric draped doors we were  greeted  warmly by Karim’s mom , sister and nieces.

Karim had just married a month ago and we awaited the entrance of his bride who eventually appeared draped in veiled in beautiful white Senegalese fabric.

We then shared a traditional meal of Ceebu Jen prepared by the women,  fresh fish and rice with a variety of vegetables. While they offered us small stools to be comfortable we insisted upon joining them cross  legged on the floor …not an easy task for Joel. The meal was delicious. Joel especially loved the crispy rice scrapings that were presented in a seperate bowl as treat.

After photos, gifts and good byes we left for the other side of St. Louis. On horse and buggy we rode through the narrow streets, markets.

Traveling through the centuries old fishing village is not for the faint of heart. The overpopulated street swarms of  young unattended children, ramshackle homes made from sticks and sheets of steel and drying fish that makes the air almost unbreathable.

But as we turn the corner again we are back in the old cobblestone street planked by terracotta stucco buildings and artists crafting everything from wood furniture to shoes. St. Louise impresses a sense of the past from every step taken down it’s long narrow streets.

Next was a visit into the crevices of St Louis to purchase fabric.

We were  disappointed not to find a small dress for our new niece Alyma in the market but  little did I know that a custom dress was being made for her as we shopped and was presented by the tailor, the shopkeeper, within 5 minutes in a beautiful African fabric. A little big…but she’ll grow into it.

Heading back to Dakar after an incredible day. The experience totally worth the drive. Thanks to our driver, and now friend, Babs and of course…Karim!