Friday, April 22, 2011


A giraffe in Bandia Nature Preserve

Traveling and guests have been the name of the game in the Thies region as of late and today was just another day of meeting the fam. Today I met Kerry's daughter and son-in-law on the last day of their 6 day whirl wind tour of Senegal! Today's agenda? Bandia Nature Preserve. I must admit that I was highly skeptical of today's itinerary. I've drive past Bandia many times on my to the Petite Cote and down to Mar Lodj to see Tamar and I haven't been very impressed. It's also the idea that Senegal used to have big game and the exotic animals that you think of when you think of Africa, but now doesn't because of poaching. The vast majority of the animals at Bandia have been imported from east and south Africa.

Kerry, Jeanine, Brian, and I set out from Thies for Bandia early this morning and we had a lot of fun at the park. Bandia is actually much nicer than I expected and riding around in a big jeep while looking at animals in Africa is pretty cool...even if those animals are no longer native to the area. We had a great time riding around and seeing some rhinos, zebras, giraffes, warthogs, ostriches, buffalo, and a lot of birds native to Senegal. Our jeep excursion was followed by a delicious lunch at the park's restaurant where some monkeys were getting a little bit too brave and a little too close to our table! There are some pictures posted of the animals we saw today in the Cape Verde album.

On our way back to Thies I called Dioss to see if he was at home so we could swing by the gallery... he was obviously in Dakar so we went straight to Mme. Ly's. I love Madame Ly. I honestly can't say enough good things about the woman. She was really excited to meet Kerry's family and was a very nice host while Kerry's daughter looked around. Unfortunately, Kerry and crew were exhausted after a week of traveling and sightseeing so they left and I stayed to talk and work with Mme. Ly and Khady.

Mme. Ly and Khady are work horses. They constantly impress me with how much they can get done when equipped with beads and electricity. Last weekend they went to Dakar for an expo which they both agreed was the worst run expo they've ever been to (while stroking my ego by reminding me just how great the Peace Corps expo was in December), but they did find some new and AWESOME beads. Since then, they've been going to town and have some really cool new pieces. I'm quite proud with how far they're pushing themselves. I wasn't even allowed to sit down today before I had to go and look at the new pieces and take pictures of everything. They are really starting to understand different lengths, color combinations, and that bigger is most definitely better. The only problem is me.

Mme. Ly and Khady want me to approve/ critique every piece. They also want me to be a fit model. I do enjoy the playing dress up aspect of this activity, but for those of you who know me well, you know that I have freakishly small hands and wrists. There are currently plethora of bracelets that fit me and small children...only. Hopefully this will be fixed next week.

Some of my concerns and fears about the artisan association for the spring/ summer season were also soothed by Mme. Ly's no nonsense "this is what I'm going to tell people," approach to her presidency so that's good. We are full steam ahead for the St. Louis Jazz fest and showing at a gallery. I'm trying to take some classier pictures for the gallery owner/ WATH so let me know which one of these pictures you like more or if you think they're both bad!

This is the necklace in a wood bowl.

This is the necklace on a whitewashed bench.

After a lovely afternoon talking jewelry with Mme. Ly and Khady, I walked home with a quick detour to the post office. Shout out to Shirley for another amazing card. Made my day as usual. Erin happened to be stopping by picking up some packages on her way back to site from an Ag summit Kolda. We caught up while she waited for the customs agent to materialize. The best part about this wait other than the exchange of gossip? Definitely when one of my post office friends called the customs agent and told him that one of my friends needed to pick up a package so he needed to come in even though he had already left for the day. Score. The post office men are back in my good graces!

I'm having problems uploading pictures so check back tomorrow for updated photos.


  1. I like the photo on the whitewashed bench best!

  2. Alyssa, I love the necklace both ways. Hope I can buy one when you get home. Happy Holidays! Love Ma., Their jewelry is amazing. I've seen some your Mom has and love it. Love Ma

  3. I agree with Kaitlyn somehow the white wash bench looks very professional(reminds me of the Sundance catalogue) but I think I get a much better ida of the "heft"/quality of the necklace on the wood bowl. It looks heavy and rich. Which would your audience prefer?
    Have you thought about taking Ahmed to the animal park? You have written that he is fascinated by animals. He might be very interested to see the animals that are native to his country but have been lost to the ecological nightmare that is much of Africa. He is such a bright boy who knows how this kind of exposure
    might inspire him.

  4. Alyssa,

    Being the fashion expert that I am, you could charge a higher price for the bowl piece than the white board, but they will attract different shoppers. I hope that Tamar looks at your blog because the frozen picture of her in the car is a classic.


  5. I like the necklace displayed in the bowl better. You can see the details more clearly and it looks "rich" to me.