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Island Time In Africa

January 9, 2013

We left Morocco for our next destination, Senegal, but not before being invited to our landlord Mhand’s home for lamb couscous.

mohamed tea

Mhand’s daughter Nadia graciously prepared a large couscous meal for me, Michael, Mhand, and two other guests at the house where we’d rented an apartment.

nadia cooking

nadias tagine

After the meal, Nadia made amlou for us to take home: a kind of peanut butter made of peanuts ground up with argan oil and honey. She used a stone grinder that has been in Mhand’s family for 200 years.

nadia amlou

We had waves almost every single day we were in the little fishing village in Morocco, but we were still looking forward to getting to Senegal, where the weather and water is a little warmer this time of year.

point 6point 5 point 4point 3 point 2point 1

sandbars working well

We splurged a little and stayed at the best surf camp in Senegal for the first two weeks we were here: N’gor Island Surf Camp.

ngor island surf camp

surf camp

It’s on tiny N’gor Island, which is only 800 meters long, and has no cars. There are two surf breaks on the island; one on each side. The right works more often than the left, and can hold large swells. The right is also the wave that was featured in the classic surf movie The Endless Summer, and there’s a hand-painted sign above the wave proudly announcing this fact:

endless summer sign

endless summer

ngor rights

delphine ngor right

Me on N’gor Right

There are many other excellent waves within a 30-minute walk of the mainland beach that faces N’gor Island. To get across, we have to take one of the pirogues, which cross the 700-meter channel every 10 or 15 minutes:


While staying at the surf camp, the entire camp took a little trip to a secluded surf spot called Spot X and surfed some fun, long and clean head high peelers:

loaded up

senegal wave

goats and surfboards

hanging out


These kids made a fully functional foosball table out of a cardboard box and twigs!

The beaches on N’gor Island are small but pretty, with little restaurants and places renting mats for sunbathing and makeshift cabanas for privacy:

beach tents

second beach

The island’s sandy footpaths are lined with palms and wind past cute houses:

path 2


The island is full of artful details and colorful characters:



elephant door carving

general store

keur bibou



tea fire

There are many skilful spear fishermen who ply their trade every day in the waters around the island and then sell the fish fresh off their spears:

spear fishing

spear fisherman

trumpet fish

These crazy creatures are called trumpet fish

We’ve rented a cute little bungalow where we spend any non-surf time sitting on our veranda, reading and writing or hanging out with friends.


We’ve ventured into downtown Dakar several times, once to visit the markets selling produce, fish, clothing, handicrafts and fabulously colored fabrics. The local women wear matching headwraps and dresses in gorgeous African prints. We weren’t buying, but were happy to feast our eyes on the lovely colors while one of our friends shopped for fabric.

fabric salesman


We’ve gotten to spend a couple of afternoons hanging out with two surfing friends from New York, Elie and Nate, who moved to N’gor Island one year ago. They work in consulting for development projects in several African countries, and are also social entrepreneurs. One of Elie’s many projects is Mama Liberia, a women’s co-op based in Liberia that produces beautiful, handcrafted bags and duvet covers from amazingly printed African fabrics. They can be shipped anywhere in the world, and the hand stitching is super durable. This is my Mama Liberia bag, which has quickly become my favorite carry-all:

mama liberia

7 Comments leave one →
  1. Ted and Elizabeth permalink
    January 9, 2013 6:54 pm

    Uncle T says that what a great tale you weave as we slog through the snow. Not to fret, it is going to 7 Deg C and rain for our annual Jan thaw.
    I think one should skip Florida and head to Senegal once in a life time.
    Keep these great accounts coming.

    • January 10, 2013 5:15 am

      Oh that sounds cold! We are keeping warm thoughts in our hearts for you and Elizabeth. We love hearing from you, so as long as we keep the posts going, please keep those updates coming as well!

  2. January 9, 2013 9:02 pm

    officially really jealous…and i would have bought and mailed the fabric home. i love african fabric. i am very impressed with your surfing in the pictures.

    • January 10, 2013 5:18 am

      Haha that’s exactly what the fabric vendors tried to convince us to do. They have a solution for every excuse! By the way, I fell on that wave right after the photo was taken 🙂 It’s nice to hear from you P. Claire!

  3. Mar permalink
    January 9, 2013 11:08 pm

    love you guys!! Looks so beautiful!

  4. January 10, 2013 7:53 am

    I’m BACK! This is a wonderful Blog story. I Love the 200 year old stone grinder. Wow! Also love the beautiful faces. You are developing a truly world family, with friends all around the world. Love you GO MUX! Momma

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