Notes on the Geography of Senegal: Barbarie
Time for a walk over to the beach.
We're looking across the Petit Bras from the island of Saint-Louis to the spit, the Langue de Barbarie. This "tongue" is mostly deserted but has a dense settlement facing Saint-Louis. The north half of the settlement is N'Dar Toute; the south half is Guet N'Dar.
Hundred of pirogues crowd both the sheltered and surf side of Barbarie. The boats vary from 7 to 24 meters, with crews of from 4 to 15 men. The name? Maybe a sufi leader.
Here's one of which we can be pretty confident: Ibrahima Fall was a disciple of the founder of Senegal's famous Mouride Brotherhood.
There are two bridges across to Barbarie. This is the newer of the two, the Chinese-built Masseck Ndiaye Bridge. It's named for a former mayor of Saint-Louis and opened in 2014. Earlier bridges go back to a footbridge of 1856.
View looking downstream from the lower bridge, a simple concrete post-and-beam structure.
A war memorial sits on the Barbarie side of that lower bridge. The ocean is at the skyline. This road is an exact extension of the Pont Faidherbe to the east and is also the divider between N'Dar Toute and Guet N'Dar.
No plaques or insignia but the imagery of French-and-Senegalese-together recalls the Demba and Dupont statue in Dakar.
Most of the streets on Barbarie make no effort to hide their underlying sand.
Trudge, trudge. The pirogues have been rolled the 50 meters or so from the water.
Houses crowd right up to the retaining wall.
What is it about the sea that makes people watch? The endless motion?
There's less than a meter of tide.
Getting ready to put out to sea.
The technique is about as simple as manhandling and palm logs can make it.
Off they go, now probably with cell phones in case they get into trouble.
Pirogues are still made here.
It's fishing season, and boats are arriving on the calm inside water of the Petit Bras.
Women do some of the buying.
They're a lot better dressed than the men.
Most of the fish are packed in ice trays.
Some go off in horse carts.
Most don't; this is big business.
Some of the traffic heads out internationally in refrigerated trucks.
The trucks are often in their second lives.
Such a come-down! From a Calatrava-designed Spanish opera house to carrying loads of fish.
A mess is left over.
If you just focus on the color, it's almost attractive.
Still farther down the spit, things get stark. All kinds of questions arise about now, beginning with "What do the cows and their herders find here?" Is it just bathing in the brine?
They're not talking.
Those buildings, now the site of a quiet dock, were once a seaplane base for Aéropostale, the predecessor of Air France.
That's why there's a monument here to Jean Mermoz, the general inspector of Air France, who was lost at sea in 1936 on a flight heading west to Natal, Brazil.
Fishermen die here, too. There's a cemetery just across the road from the fish-loading zone.
It's pretty basic.
In lieu of flowers, neatly raked sand.
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