Back From Africa

I’ve been out of the country for a while and busy for longer than that.
I deployed to Senegal Africa with the National Guard and had a grand old time.
Senegal was interesting. Among other things it was almost entirely populated with black people. Who knew? Coming from Utah, this was quite a difference. It wasn’t long though, before it became apparent that most things were still very much the same. The Senegalese seem to be primarily concerned with putting food on the table and generally making their way in the world.
Among other things, Senegal is very proud that their country has never had a military coup. Also, they have the largest Baobab forest in the world. This forest was, apparently, about 10 kilometers south of where we were in Thies. I wouldn’t know as we were too busy to make it there. I did get to go into downtown Thies on several occasions as well as see a bit of Dakar but raw tourism was pretty much off the table.
There were some trinket vendors just outside the section of the Senegalese military base we were on, well, not really trinkets, most of it was nicer than trinkets but you get the idea.
I determined that I wasn’t going to buy statues of any exotic animals unless I saw those animals during my stay. As it ended up, I could have bought a statue of a goat, a pig, a horse, or maybe a cow. The elephants, lions, giraffes and monkeys were not in evidence. Very exciting. So next I asked if I could get a wooden piece made from baobab wood. I was sternly informed by a women manning one of the tables that baobab wood was no good for carving. It’s really not even good for making fires. You can make rope or clothes out of it if you’re really desperate. Instead I wanted some nice teak pieces. Yes?
I don’t know if baobab wood got such a bad rep because the woman didn’t have any to sell me or if it’s really no good for carving.
Gris Gris were no good either. Gris Gris are charms, good luck charms in particular. I asked if they had a gris gris specifically for luck in battle. Nope, just luck in life in general. I went back and asked for a battle specific gris gris a couple of times until finally it became apparent that they would probably hand me one the next time I came back and tell me it was for battle just so I’d shut up.
I did see a nifty mask though.┬áIt’s an ugly little thing, totally unlike the other masks on the table. Upon questioning the woman told me that it was a bird mask of the Seti people in the old style. It was so ugly it kind of grew on me in only a few minutes so I bought it.

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