Today was a bit less fun-packed than days past. Kat came down with some stomach trouble overnight, and we spent most of the day in the car traveling from Saint Louis to Kaolack, via Touba. All the car time didn’t help Kat much, with plenty of jostling to fight with.
Our one big stop was Touba, a religious center for member’s of the country’s Sufi sect of Islam. It’s home to a large mosque (which routinely has 10,000 worshippers) and is the destination for a major pilgrimage which attracts two million people each year.
While we couldn’t enter every part of the mosque, we were able to walk around the perimeter and peer in. It’s been undergoing major renovation essentially since it was built in the early 20th century. Each Caliph expands or revises it. Currently, there’s also a lot of preservation underway. They’ve brought in new marble from all over Europe, and artisan from Morocco are doing the intricate plasterwork.
After visiting the mosque, it was back in the car for the trek to Kaolack. Kaolack is described in our guidebook as the “armpit of Senegal”. It’s the center of the peanut industry for the country, the number one agricultural export. Driving in, we saw literal mountains of peanuts, and the air was full of the smell of peanuts. Which is pretty nice.
We settled in at our hotel so Kat could rest and convalesce a bit. I went with our guide Alex to see about finding some plain white rice for her (failed) and then to the market down the street. It’s packed with everything you could need, including lots of peanut products.
Eventually, our hotel’s restaurant was able to supply some rice, and Kat is feeling a bit better. Here’s hoping a good night’s sleep will see her back to mobile tomorrow.