Sunday, June 3, 2012

St Louis

After my Mid-Service stuff I had a couple free days so I headed up to St Louis for JazzFest, an annual music festival of jazz musicians from around the world. Some of the other Kédougou Volunteers and I got a room at a hostel on the island, right next to the Mairie on this map. (The mainland is on the right and that strip of land on the left is actually a peninsula that goes up and connects to Mauritania.) As an added bonus, Youssou N'Dour (the incredibly, unbelievable popular Senegalese musician-turned-Minister-of-Culture) paid for everyone’s entry into all of the shows, so it wound up being a bit like an African version of Hardly Strictly Bluegrass.
(Map courtesy of
As the name suggests, St Louis was a major hub of activity during French colonial times. It’s much more developed than Kédougou, and for those of us coming up from the South, everything felt very fancy and tourist-y. The city has a bustling, run-down but somehow distinctly European air about it, maybe kind of like a seldom-used guesthouse in a forgotten corner of Sicily.

In any case, we spent a couple days listening to a lot of really good (and some mediocre/really not very good at all) music, eating real cheese and other delicious foods, and relishing the fact that our hostel was right on the island, so we never had to walk more than a few blocks to get anywhere except the beach (which was littered with dead fish, a dead porpoise, two dolphin carcasses, and the bodies of several enormous rams, so no big loss there). There was a big Peace Corps turnout, so everywhere we went we ran into friends from other regions and stages (training groups), and it was really nice to see people and catch up.In the evenings there were band playing on a large boat parked (docked? moored?) just down the way, so we got to go listen to music and sip cool drinks on the upper decks while the sun went down. It was not a bad deal. 

So, there was all these lovely sunsets and scenery and music and whatnot and the only pictures I took were of us eating big wedges of brie, the wall of a broken-down building, and a few of my stage-mates and I in front of said wall, inexplicably and unintentionally dressed like two very match-y middle-aged couples on vacation. Good times! 

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