Friday, August 6, 2010

Fisherman's Village in St. Louis

The Senegal River acts as part of the border between Senegal and Mauritania. It separates a thin strip of land called the Langue de Barbarie (Tongue of Barbary). Here salt water from the sea and fresh water from the river mix resulting in a both a positive and negative environment for the fishermen of Guet Ndar, a fishing village within the city of St. Louis. A kind of dam has been created in order to use the fresh water from the river, which in turn, creates a salt water area that is so full of concentrated salt that it is damaging to local plants. The young men of the village set out in pirouges, or a dugout-type of boat, into the Atlantic each morning to fish. As they return in the afternoon, families and wholesalers converge to make deals on the catch of the day. This photo looks toward the fishing village from across the river.
At the fishing village, baskets wait for use in the process of buying and selling fish.
For the most part, people at Guet-Ndar do not like to have their pictures taken. As a guest in their land, I tried to be respectful of that, while at the same time getting photos of the buildings and geographic features. However, these young boys found our tour group amusing and enjoyed showing off for the cameras. The attention from villagers was not exclusive to the children. There was a man of around twenty-something who was particularly interested in our bags and backpacks. We were told to hold them tight.
On the tables between the beach and the road, fish are set out to dry, nets and other fishing equipment are mended and stored, older men gather to talk and reflect as they wait to see what the day's catch will bring, and women process the fish, using every part to its greatest potential. The fisher folk are very resourceful. Our guide wanted us to know that the appearance of the homes, is not really an indication of poverty. He said that inside one might find several televisions and other material portents of economic security. There are many paintings of marabout, or religious teachers on the walls of buildings and boats on the shore, revealing the Muslim faith strongly held by the majority here.

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