The time has finally come! I’ve been waiting all semester to write this post but until now I’ve decided that my picture collection wasn’t quite complete. But now, I’m ready to tell you all about baobabs and more specifically how they’re the best trees ever.
Reasons Why Baobabs are the Best:
1. They look really cool like from some prehistoric age
Enough said I suppose.
2. Their fruits and leaves are edible
The fruits are called monkey bread and have an edible white powder around the seeds that can be eaten right out of the fruit or mixed with water and sugar to make a juice called bouye. . It tastes almost creamy and reminds me a little of a piña colada. It can also be eaten frozen as a popsicle called bouye crème. Yummm. Bouye is also used to make the beloved ngala, a peanut/bouye concoction that Catholics make for Easter and give out to everyone in the community including to their Muslim neighbors. It’s VERY sugary and delicious, but it often leads to a hearty stomachache if consumed in larger quantities than a cup. Finally, I’ve never tried it, but their leaves are also edible and have some medicinal properties.
|Baobab fruit called Monkey Bread|
|Baobab juice called bouye! The purplish drink is bissap.|
3. Their trunks are hollow
Their trunks can store rainwater and some are so huge several people can fit inside! While on a weekend trip to the Sine Saloum region, we stopped by a giant baobab that was so big, we fit at least 20 people inside at once. The entrance was a small hole that was such a tight squeeze you felt a little like you were being born from a baobab. A large colony (or would it be a community? A gang?) of bats had taken up residence on the ceiling of the hollow space. It was little creepy to see the hundreds of bats squirming around above our heads and the smell was not the loveliest!
|Being the Baobab|
|A poor quality, but I didn't want to use flash and upset the hundreds of bats above my head...eeee|
4. They can be very small or VERY LARGE
Aurora and I were big fans of the mini baobabs on Ile de Madeleine :-D
5. Their cultural significance in Senegal and in the rest of Africa
The Serer people used to bury the bones of their griots, who are the praise singers and oral historians of a community, in the baobab’s hollow trunk. Baobabs are also generally believed to be sacred and have magical powers.
On a different note,
Last weekend, I went on a program trip to Mar Lodj, which is an island in the Sine Saloum region. It was absolutely beautiful there and we got to stay in homey little bungalows by the water. Frankly, it looked a lot like Florida! We saw lots of mangroves, herons, egrets, pelicans, and cormorants on our boat tour. Women used to cut the mangrove roots for firewood, but once people realized it was decimating the mangrove population and ecological environment, the practice was banned and several women’s groups took the initiative to make mangrove nurseries and replant them in damaged areas. The weekend was super relaxing. We swam/floated in the super salty water, hung out on the beach, went for a rather uncomfortable tour of the local villages in horse-drawn carts, and watched some local wrestling matches.
|Dog days of Sine Saloum|
Today, I’m taking off again for a field trip with my Public Health class to visit a village in the Fatick region, where we will be conducting a study on malnutrition. More on than later!
I can’t believe I only have two more weeks left! This whole semester went by in a flash. I’m trying to take advantage of my last few days here to do as much as possible during the time that I’m not working on end of the year projects and papers. I feel so incorporated and accustomed to my daily life here it’s hard to believe that I’m leaving soon! I have a feeling I’m going to have more culture shock coming home than when I arrived in Senegal.