Travel Diary: Goree Island

As the ferry approached the shore, an idyllic scene stretched out before me: fishermen tending to their boats and colour - saturated buildings framed by exuberant bougainvillea trees. As I walked upon the beach, children played, their peels of laughter startling a flock of birds.Women sat cleaning fish. Clothes, hung to dry in the brilliant sun, danced to the gentle ocean breeze. It would have been reasonable to think that life here had always flown as easily as the tide. I knew differently. 

I knew that there was a history here that belied the pretty facade. Centuries ago, on Goree Island an ignoble industry presided. It decimated ages of tradition and tore families apart. It made this island the opposite of paradise for many. It was built upon the denial of humanity and it came to bear an immeasurable impact from West Africa to the so-called West Indies. Yet, not much seemed to exist now that betrayed that gruesome past.

 As I strolled through the narrow dirt roads, I wondered...maybe the walls, the only surviving witnesses, had chosen not to speak. Maybe the ocean had washed away the tears and the sun had bleached the anguish. Maybe children's laughter had silenced the ghosts. Maybe the beauty that surrounded me was a lasting salve to cruelty's wounds.

Photos of landscape and people taken by myself.
Photo of me taken by my guide, Suleiman.