Friday is market day in Mpal, a bustling affair about 30K from Saint-Louis, that snakes and stretches throughout the small village. A mesmerizing sea of colors and a veritable feast for the eyes, Mpal sees very few tourists, which makes for a most interesting journey of back-and-forth staring and gazing. And on this day I am definitely the only toubab (white person) in town.
We begin our adventure with the women who are selling all kinds of vegetables, such as tomatoes, eggplant, carrots, and red hibiscus leaves, that when crushed are steeped to make the popular bissap juice that is ubiquitous in Senegal.
The colors and patterns of their dresses are even more dizzying than those of the vegetables. The looks in their eyes are calculating and curious, yet kind. “Toubab, viens,” they yell. (White lady, come here).