The bus departed the hotel at 4am for the airport. After a few hassles at the airport we were off for our long flight (about 6 1/2 hours) to "Jo-burg". The flight was relatively easy as it wasnt as full as our flight over to Dakar. I caught up on some sleep!
Arriving in Jo-burg several things stuck out:
- I saw pools in the yards as we were landing.
- English was the language of choice here as all the billboards and signs were in English
- It was a modern airport.
- It was dark outside at 5:30pm!
- It was cold.
- We flew across the equator, so now we were in a place where it was winter.
- The bus was the most modern bus I have seen.
- We drove on the left side of the road.
- The roads were modern.
After checking into our new Holiday Inn we had a team meal that was really good and went to our rooms. It is 11:30pm now as I am about to complete this entry. Tomorrow is a busy day as we have a clinic to conduct in the morning then we tour Pretoria in the afternoon.
After that we raced each other up and down sand dunes. It was a blast. At one point we stopped and lined the three trucks up side-by-side for a photo opportunity. Then the funniest thing happened, two street merchants came running up to our trucks and quickly lined up their goods to sell us. Where the heck did they come from in the middle of this huge beach? Those guys are unbelievable! The Senegalese street merchants are the most persistent people I have ever met! They would be great recruiters!!!!
Then we took to the most spectacular beach I have ever seen. Driving through the water as it reached the beach and seeing the sun starting to set was a wonderful time. We continued to race along the shore until we came upon a big tent, the kind you would picture in a movie that takes place in a desert. As we pulled up I noticed that our dinner was set up inside the tent, low tables set with white plates and clothe napkins, foot stool type cushions to sit on and a buffet set up with a "great spread". However, before we ate we had to continue with some fun. Wrestling is a huge sport in Senegal and the biggest kid on the team, Papa, starting prancing around looking for a challenger. Who jumps out to challenge him, but his old coach! What was I thinking? I don't know, but I was having a blast. I jumped out in the imaginary circle and squared up to Pap. We circled and circled, slapping at each other like they do on TV here. Pap straightened up to take something off and as he turned to place it on the ground I jumped him! I got him by the leg and took him to the sand for the win!!!!! We all laughed and the next match was on!!!! Pap took on Mo and lost again! There were merchants hovering around our tent and one was a pro wrestler....a real wrestler, not the fake kind. We got him out to challenge Pap and Pap lost again!!! 0-3! Malcolm's brother, Douglas, challenged Malcolm to a match. I think the younger brother may have had some pent up frustration going on???? Several other guys wrestled, but the best match was between Jon Killen and Mike Walker. Mike was reluctant to wrestle, but the peer pressure was too strong! He and JK went at it. Mike dropped Jon, but Jon quickly spun him around sending Mike face first into the sand. When Mike got up his face was full of sand, like it was painted on everywhere, but his eyes. After we cleaned him off, the potential nicknames started to fly, "Sandman" and "Sandy" were the best.....I think they will stick!!!!
Dinner was very good....relaxing and delicious. I had a great feeling about these guys as we really enjoyed the day. After dinner we walked down to the water for a team picture with the sun setting in the background.
We then drove back towards Dakar for a visit to Mo's house. His family was there to greet us. They even had a birthday cake for Bamba, since his birthday was a few days earlier. We sat around and got to know his parents and two sisters. (He has a brother in Arizona.) Both of Mo's parents are doctors and his three older siblings all graduated from college! It was another great experience as we got to spend time with the family of another player from Senegal.
We got back to the hotel about 11:00pm. We needed to pack and get ready for the bus to roll at 4am as we fly to Johannesburg in the morning.
Special thanks go out to the following people for our visit to Senegal:
- Kine she set up our trip from the Senegal side, working closely with Malcolm in making sure all the many details were covered. She is a beautiful lady that brings a wonderful personality to every day.
- Mactar Ndiaye he is the Director of Marketing at SEEDS. He was with us every step of the way. I highly educated man who loves the young people of Senegal. Mactar is a special man.
- Barra our trusty bus driver. He honks his horn with the best NY cabbies I ever saw as he navigated us through the busy traffic of Dakar!
- Laye he was our tour guide. Laye was awesome as his English was terrific. He was good at taking care of little things that made the trip special like the ferry ride to Goree Island and the four wheel rides at Pink Lake. Ironically, his wife is from Rocky Mount, NC. I couldn't believe it!
- Dongo he should be an Ambassador for Senegal. He played at the University of Delaware and is still playing professionally in Japan. He had a special touch with everyone he meets.
Closing thoughts of Senegal:
- Great weather
- Beautiful coastline
- Wonderful people
- Willing workforce
- Good location with a good airport