The Maiden Factor Blog

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Goree Island Visit

By Louise Brown, photo captions by Sharon Ferris-Choat

We were meeting Yacine, our wonderful DP World liaison translator, organiser, and all-round amazing woman who has helped us so much during our time in Dakar, at the port terminal for our trip to Goree Island. We got their first and as we are lucky to have two fluent French speakers on the crew, Molly and Jenna, we thought we’d have to go and buy the tickets ourselves, but it was still a bit tricky!  We managed to buy the tax tickets to go to the island but were very grateful when Yacine arrived to help us with the actual ferry tickets! 

We boarded the ferry and took the 30 minute trip across to Goree island, the island was used for FOUR centuries during the slave trade as a holding house for the men, women and children of this brutal system. We visited a slave house;  it was harrowing, but so important for us and future generations to understand the history and consequences. Our guide was incredibly matter-of-fact. A lot of what we heard that day we had never heard before. We walked around the cells and saw the ‘door of no return’ where they stepped out into small rowing boats that would take them out to the ships. It was truly awful to picture this, but it happened and we mustn’t ever forget. All of us were very emotional during the tour.

We then walked down the small streets to the large church. There are huge trees in the courtyard that are amazing, and the church itself is very beautiful. There was a metal ornate spiral staircase that Heather and Greg tried out – it looked very wobbly as they went up it but they managed to go up and back down again safely (after surprising a pigeon in the roof!). The font is a huge clamshell, which was a size I had never seen before.

The Church

After visiting the church we went across to the museum which used to be a fort. The French built this during their occupation of the island. Again, the museum depicted all the horrors that went on for centuries. On the way back to the ferry, we wandered through the town and bought small gifts for friends and family at the various stalls and street sellers.  It was a sombre and very quiet ferry ride back to Dakar.

Back in Dakar Yacine took us to a local restaurant for lunch. The food was great and the lunch was extra special as Senegal were playing in the World Cup on a huge screen. Every time they scored the place erupted this really helped shift the teams mood to one of celebration.