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Out Of Africa, Into Asia

February 9, 2013

In my last post, I mentioned the artful details on N’Gor Island, 700 meters off the coast of Dakar in Senegal. Walking around the island, you see many artists and their paintings, sculptures, glassworks, batiks, and other manifestations of creativity. There’s one path along the island that’s adorned 24 hours a day with the manifestations of some eccentric artist’s creativity, using found junk as their medium.

sculpture 3  sculpture 2

sculpture 1 sculpture 4

We had quite a few days of very fun swell, and tried several of the breaks in Dakar. One of our favorites was Ouakam, a fast and barrelling break with a right and a left, located directly in front of a distinctive mosque.

ouakam right

ouakam mosque

ouakam left

There are resident pelicans that hang around the fishermen beside the mosque. Locals don’t seem to even notice them. This guy was too intent on his text messaging to pay attention to the big bird.


One of Dakar’s big tourist draws is Gorée Island, which is famous for being a slave trade throughpoint during the 18th century. It was a very small slave trade center compared to some other West African towns (for example, St. Louis, further north in Senegal), but Gorée has become symbolic of Senegal’s remembrance of the past atrocities committed during the days of slave trade.

The House of Slaves was where the few hundred slaves that were channelled through Gorée during those times were kept before being shipped across the Atlantic. There is a door leading out to the sea, known as the Door Of No Return, which is said to be where the slaves were led when it was time for them to be loaded on ships. Whether all the history is factually correct or not, the House of Slaves is a moving and eery place.

no return

The Door Of No Return

When we visited Gorée, there were large works commissioned from artists interpreting the theme of “memories” of the slave trade past:


The paths of Gorée are free of motor vehicles, but full of old colonial houses and bougainvillea:

goree street 2 goree road

goree alley   bougainvillae


Creativity in Senegal extends to music as well as painting, sculpture and crafts. The music scene is very lively and wonderful to watch and listen to. From buskers to live music clubs, we enjoyed Senegalese music wherever we went. Here’s a busker with a beautiful smile, playing the kora:


One of the great joys of living on N’Gor Island for us was walking out our front door onto the beach, and ordering a huge platter of brochette de lotte (grilled monkfish skewers) accompanied by rice, salad, french fries and baguette, all for $4.00 (including home delivery!).

brochette de lotte

We were very fortunate to be staying in a house two doors down from an amazing group of people who were about to take off on a non-stop transatlantic (Dakar to Miami) rowing expedition: OAR Northwest. We became good friends with (below, from L to R) the rowers, Pat Fleming, Jordan Hanssen, Adam Kreek, and Markus Pukonen, as well as their photographer Erinn Hale, and their videographer (unfortunately not in the picture below), Christopher Yapp.


We got to hang out with them a lot during their preparatory month on N’Gor, and also had the chance to visit their rowboat once it arrived in Dakar. They set off from Dakar on January 23rd and you can check out where they are right now, as well as find out more about their incredible undertaking, on the OAR Northwest website here.



Michael hanging out in the incredibly close quarters where two men will sleep while the other two are rowing during each 2-to-4-hour shift.

rower men

The OAR Northwest rowers and their vessel.

One of my best interactions with the Senegalese locals was this day at a good surfing beach when a bunch of kids all wanted to participate in a photo shoot and kept asking me to take pictures and then show them the results. They were naturals!

kids 1 kids 4

kid 3

kids 2

kid 2kid 1

After Senegal, it was off to Sri Lanka for us. We landed in Colombo and spent one day exploring the city a little. Sri Lanka is 70% Buddhist, and there are many temples in Colombo that are open to visitors.



treasury of truth


The sacred elephant getting a wash at Gangaramaya Temple.

bride and groom

We were lucky to stumble upon this groom and bride in beautiful traditional costume at one of the temples we visited.

We’re staying in a small town called Midigama that has several fun breaks to surf. The first few days, we noticed turtles surfacing in the ocean each time we were out surfing. There’s an informal turtle hatchery right on the beach where we surf, and we were fortunate enough to be there at the time when the caretaker released hatchlings. We got to help release some turtle babies. So adorable!

turtle turtle run

surf 1surf 5surf 4surf 3surf 2

We surf from 6:30 to 8:30 each morning and then eat a huge breakfast. For $3, you can get a meal of scrambled eggs with onions and peppers, toast, tomatoes and avocado, and a giant chocolate coffee millkshake.



Some of the interesting things we’ve seen during our walks around Midigama:



Buddhist monks


Stilt fishermen


Spectacular sunsets

lanka sunset


We recently had a cool reminder of our time in Chile, back in May. We’d been interviewed by a film crew while we were surfing and camping in Portofino. The crew were filming an episode of Chile Conectado, a weekly tv show about different areas of Chile, and they were focusing on a character called Chico Cristian who’s the only full-time resident of the summer surf town of Portofino. We just found the link; check it out! We are at the 3:30 mark in the video:

3 Comments leave one →
  1. Uncle T permalink
    February 9, 2013 1:26 pm

    Best one so far. That was a wonderful journey and presentation of life. Loved the video of you two skimming along.
    Thanks, We need that. We got 45 cms of snow last night so it took two runs by the snow plow guy to get us plowed out. At 9pm and 9am this morning.
    Sunny but cold and rain on Monday. Why do we live here!

    Uncle T

    • February 9, 2013 9:48 pm

      Thanks for the lovely comments and support! Was it Nemo that sent all the snow your way? Hope it doesn’t make life too inconvenient — stay home if you can and enjoy some hot toddies!

  2. Janet and Murray permalink
    February 10, 2013 4:49 pm

    There are certainly no shortage of things to experience in this world. Thanks for sharing all your photos and blogs with us. One of the “OAR NORTHWEST” people you met in Dakar is quite a familiar name in Victoria BC, as he was a student at UVIC and did much of his rowing training at Elk Lake. He was also a gold medal winner at the Beijing 2008 summer Olympics. We wish you continued happiness in your travels…may your waves be big and your worries be small.

    Janet and Murray Drew

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