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Photo by Elke Schmidt, Senegal Bridge Year Program.

“Where everyone knows their neighbors and there are no cars…”

This morning we sat under a baobab tree and reviewed some basic sayings in Wolof.  After a few days on the peaceful island of Niodior, where everyone knows their neighbors and there are no cars, we are starting to settle into a slower and simpler rhythm of life.  The stress and business of our lives back home has started to fall away, throwing into sharp relief what’s really important in life.  We’ve been reflecting on the bigger questions: What are we really here to do with our time on Earth?  How much do you actually need to live a good life?  and What are we going to bring from Niodior to our lives back home?

Before lunch, we heard from a local Quranic teacher, who discussed the basic tenants and philosophies of Islam with us.  After lunch we took a horse cart ride to the far end of the island with a woman named Salymata who runs the community mangrove protection project here.  We helped plant some mangrove trees, which oxygenate the waters and creates an important haven for fish to reproduce.  We also met a young man who, like many men on the island, now lives and works in Spain.  He talked to us (in fluent Spanish) about the hardships of clandestine immigration, the seven-day passage he made in a wooden boat at the age of seventeen, and his current job there as a fruit picker.