|Posted by Couch Hoppers on April 4, 2011 at 4:12 PM|
Tyjon and UK board the plane, lounge in plush seats, eat fine meals, and converse with strangers. All the lavishness ends when they deplane. Welcome to Dakar, Senegal. They walk through a dilapidated airport and are greeted by an English speaking Senegalese. “How are you my sistahs? Is this your first trip to Dakar?” he questions them. The stranger telephones the host family and he takes them outside in the darkness to greet them.
The filmmakers get in a run-down car, with the back window held up by duct tape. The driver whips through the pitch-black town at 3 AM. He stops at a bakery for warm, fresh bread. Bumpy roads. Weird smells. They finally arrive at the host families’ home. The family, The Gaye's, greets them as they emerge from their rooms one by one. A mother. A husband. A son. A daughter. 3 little girls and their auntie. A maid.
The filmmakers eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner with the family. Intimate setting. Same plate. Use your fingers or silverware. They learn a few French and Wolof phrases. "Terenga" means hospitality in Wolof. The oldest son, Babacar, teaches them how to make homemade tea.
They sail on the Coumba Castel to Goree Island, an ex-Atlantic slave trade. A tour guide quiets them, "Don't say anything to guards. They think you Senegalese and you pay half fare." Frequented by tourists from all over the world, the island exhibits a slave mansion, restaurant, old church, and art galleries. Inside of the cave where thousands of slaves were housed, UK senses their presence. She looks out of the DOOR OF NO RETURN, a door where slaves were either thrown out to the sea in shackles or loaded onto ships but never returned to the island again. After the tour of the cave, the filmmakers cheer for the Senegalese handball (similar to American soccer) hometeam as a rowdy crowd gathers on weekends to watch them compete.
Tyjon and UK participate in a high school fashion and talent show. They try on beautiful garments and dance to the sounds of R&B artist and songwriter, Akon, and Mbaye Dieye Faye, singer and percussionist.
They board an upkept colorful bus with the Arabic words, "Alhamdoulilah," meaning "All Praise is due to Allah" painted on the front. A man sits behind a small cage, collecting bus fares. Once downtown, they stroll to the exterior of the president’s mansion and pose with a guard who appears mannequin-like. No smile. No movement.
Back in the village, Abdul, a well-spoken Senegalese banker and friend of the family, leads Tyjon and UK to the market. On the way, schoolchildren stop and pose with UK. They are fascinated by the still and video cameras. A witch doctor, wearing a towel on his head and sunglasses, spits loudly on the megaphone, chanting and praying.
Entering the market with tents and tents mashed together on a section of a corner, Tyjon and UK greet everyone. Merchants are on guard and ready to sell. Medicinal herbs bombard the shelves. Meat, ready to be eaten, hangs from wires in the booths. Clothing and shoes occupy one of the booths, while household products line the table next to it. Walking through the hustle and bustle of the markets, the filmmakers stop and taste a spicy fruit called “madeu.” Hot!
An educational and spiritual journey: DAKAR, SENEGAL, the westernmost tip of Africa. The Gaye family parts with hugs and kisses. Tyjon and UK depart the house as the mother of the family pours a bucket of water on the floor for their safe return and good fortune.