February 2nd, 2016. Pape Ndiaye picked us up in Dakar to take us to the heart of Sine Saloum, at La Source aux Lamantins. We didn’t know yet at that time, but we finaly stayed one month to contribute as much as we can to the missions we have been asked for by Anne-Catherine, owner of the … EcoPlace of Africa !…
January 2015, Anne-Catherine Senghor-Beye was contacting Hopineo, eager to welcome HopTripers at her place and join the network. The contact was made. A year later, when we decided to make a HopTour in West Africa, it was obvious that La Source aux Lamantins was on top of the list of #Swaps we were about to do.
Many events and activities
It is 5pm when we arrive this February 2nd at La Source Aux Lamantins, in the Childhood’s Kingdom of… Senghor ! After a “wow!” moment in the main hut of the hotel, a cultural testimony from Casamance, Therese takes us to our room, or rather our huge suite with a fantastic view on the Sine Saloum delta.
The first contacts with the team are warm and it will be so for the 28 days that we will spend in the EcoPlace. Les premiers contacts avec l’équipe sont chaleureux, et il en sera ainsi pendant les 28 jours que nous passerons dans l’EcoLieu. We never stayed that long with a host. But the main task entrusted by Anne-Catherine needed at least that lenght: contribute to the promotion of the Djilor destination…
Guided tours !
This is why she placed us into the hands of Djiby Diouf, EcoGuide, passionated by what he is doing, his region, the nature, the birds, and common good. General interest. The friendship that grew up during this month between this man and us is probably one of those that roots in the heart, regardless the distance and the frequency of our future exchanges (he unfortunatly doesn’t have email) and meetings.
During two weeks, we traveled around ; walking or with a horse carriage (especially with Hassan the coachman), sometimes with a car. We met so many tourism local actors, visited the main facilities of the village and around.
And then, as it was made on purpose, on February 13 and 14, happened in Djilor the first regional fair of tourism and culture of the region of Fatick. More than a fair, it was a forum, where collectivities, authorities and actors talked about several predefined topics. The day was mainly about culture, Senghor and Serere.
And for good reason: Djilor is the village that saw Leopold Sedar Senghor grow for his first 7 years.
We couldn’t resist to make a short video on those two beautiful days.
In the front row of the show…
Right after the fair, the day after, the team of La Source aux Lamantins welcomed the 55 “furets” of the athletic club of the company Eiffage (construction company). We said La Source aux Lamantins but it is actually the whole village that welcomed them because:
- Anne-Catherine gave work to 3 other hotels and campsites of the village. All of them actually!
- The women of the village made tradionnal welcome songs and dances ; obvious, when we know that Eiffage financed the new buildings for the women that make the food processing (jams, juices, etc…). However, we assume that the traditionnal welcoming was paid extra.
- A school of the village, that has been managed for 25 years now by an extraorninary woman, Marthe, who welcomes without distinction orphans and disabled children of the village, received the group for a whole day to paint the classrooms, prepare a vegetable garden (organic?) for the school cafeteria, fix a switch board, etc. Humanitarian. Or rather CSR. or…
We mentionned this episode in the article published earlier “One white, one black”.
Well, but one entire month, to do what?!
In addition of the mission we were asked for, we had time to do many other different things, and hopefully, usefull!
One of the advantag of staying one entire month, is that we can actually “do” some of the recommendations we make. As we are in Senegal (it is well known, “in Africa, everything is possible“), and as Anne-Catherine could have been called “Miss Action-Reaction”, we had the chance to see the signage of the place and the laying out of the main hut evolve and, invaluable reward, get the positive feedback of the regular customers and other partners…
It has been the ocasion for us to “do” a little bit more than usual, thanks to Anne-Catherine, and to collaborate with a diversity of people of the village. Awesome!
Higgledy-piggledy, we also:
- Proposed, designed and written the welcome booklet.
- Wrote a quality manual dedicated to small facilities, that we will soon put online.
- Made a list of good practices, social and environmental, that could be implemented for not much money.
- Made recommendations on online and offline marketing strategy.
- Made the design for “derivated products”: postacards, bookmarks, logo adjustments, and so on…
Last but not least, we have fullfilled our main mission making two movies called “I Love Djilor” with the participation of our friend Djiby Diouf who has been a fantastic actor.
The first video is a 2 minutes teaser for the full video of 6 minutes that shows “my day in Djilor“. Those videos, that we showed to different actors the day before we left, during a lunch that we cooked (for once!), are made to be spread by all the tourism facilities of the destination and information offices, or even by the regional tourism board… But it no longer depends on us…
As always, we leave richer than we arrived. More than usual, we this time have the feeling to leave on a trip, to leave home, when we get in the car with Thiaw to go to Dakar. Djiby comes with us for a little part of the trip. Hard to leave…
At the same time, we are happy to hit the road. And most of all, we are more and more convinced by the maximum duration of the HopTrip of 30 days. More, it would be an other story that start…