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Mark Moxon's Travel Writing

Senegal: Joal-Fadiout

A Christian graveyard on Fadiout island
Fadiout is an island that's made out of tiny sea shells, as the graves in this Christian graveyard show

One of the best aspects of the Peace Corps invasion of Sobo-Badé was the roundabout way in which it introduced me to Jeremy and Sarah. On the road as in normal life, people understandably tend to coalesce into groups that are bound by a common language, and my newfound Peace Corps friends soon introduced me to another American couple, who were planning to head south in the morning. I had a choice between sitting round for another day on the sun-soaked beaches of the Petite Côte, or latching on to the only moving company I could find, and the homesickness bug won; I wanted to share the road for a while, at least until I was firing on all cylinders, and Jeremy and Sarah were only too happy to let me tag along.


The wooden bridge to the island of Fadiout
The rickety wooden bridge to the island of Fadiout is tout heaven

The reason that Joal-Fadiout is on the tourist map is because Fadiout, the second half of this excitingly duplicitous town, is perched on an island that's made almost entirely of clam shells. This, coupled with a strong Christian influence, makes Fadiout a relatively off-key destination (for Senegal at least), and even more interesting is a second clam-shell island, linked to Fadiout by a second bridge, which is home to hundreds of Christian graves, each marked by a cross and a pile of shells. In such a predominantly Muslim country this whiff of Christianity is not only bizarre, it's positively welcoming.