We arrived in La Somone and instantly felt like we were in a completely different part of Senegal. It was much more relaxed than Dakar, had more of a beach holiday vibe about it and we were greeted by Caroline, a Brussels school friend of David’s.
Caroline has settled in La Somone and was wonderful at giving us an insight into local life. Her husband is a reggae artist and knew exactly where to go that evening to listen to some live music. We went to a restaurant/bar to hear a Senegalese band and were entertained by the traditional dancers performing alongside. One of the best features of the night though was watching the local kids loving the band and creeping closer and closer to get a good view. Their excitement was infectious and rhythm perfect.
The next day we headed to the beach armed with sun lotion, water and a guitar. It was the first time we had been to an actual Senegalese beach south of Saint Louis. We walked along the sandy beach and soon came across a group of fishermen who were struggling to bring their boat away from the water. The fishing boats in Senegal are long wooden boats decorated with wonderful bright colours. It’s a fantastic sight seeing them all lined up at the start or end of a day.
The boat was clearly heavier than it looked and Moussa and David went over to help them drag the boat up onto the beach using a round piece of wood to act as a wheel to maneuver it.
We carried on walking to a beach hut where a friend of Moussa’s sells jewelry and instruments to passers by. The hut was a wood and reed construction with an idyllic view of the ocean creating perfect shade for an afternoon of hanging out on the beach.
After a number of cups of Senegalese tea (a delicious mix of green tea and mint which is oured back and forth between cups until a thick foam is created) which was being made over a charcoal fire in the sand, we rushed straight off into the sea and cooled off from the mid day sun by jumping the waves as they came in.
Under the hut, Moussa started to play the guitar and had us all singing and tapping to the reggae beats he was playing. Trust me, the rhythm and melodies of ‘I’m Mr Lion Man’ and ‘Salam Alaikum’ are contagious…! Caroline and Moussa (known as Lion Man) perform together and this was a great insight and private show of their work. While this was going on, Moussa’s friends were busy starting a charcoal fire on their metal cooking stove. A grill was washed in the sea, fish was brought back from the market, onions were being chopped and bags of condiments were added to the mix.
This all happened very seamlessly and before we knew it, a complete fish meal was put in front of us. The 7 of us sat around the dish, cross legged on the sand and eat the meal with our fingers. It was delicious!
After we had eaten and all evidence of any form of meal hidden away, Moussa brought back out his guitar and this time played accompanied by a djembe (a style of African drum). We couldn’t have asked for more. This was local La Somone life surrounded by amazingly hospitable people, beautiful scenery, the sea to cool off in and all while listening to talented musicians!
It was going to be difficult to leave La Somone…
We left the beach hut and walked back past the fishermen to pick up food for our evening meal. We came away with 1.5kg of thiof, a common fish in the area and David cooked up a second feast for the day, this time at home with just the five of us.