Live From Seashell Island, Joal-Fadiouth – Senegal Travel Diary #4

Today we went to Joal-Fadiouth, the Seashell Island and cemetery in Senegal. The Island is made entirely of seashells.

No, it’s not just covered in them. Fadeout is truly made of seashells. Clam shells to be exact.

More than 800 years ago, the claim harvesters started collecting all of the shells and over time built these 2 islands.

The main island holds 5000 residents. The other is home to their cemetery where Christians and Muslims rest side by side.

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In fact, the religious make-up of Faiouth is exactly opposite the rest of Senegal which is 90% Muslim. Fadeout is 90% Christian, mostly Catholic.

They all take pride in their shared religious tolerance and a total lack of conflict with these groups living side-by-side. They even share each others holidays.

That’s one reason the cemetery is a point of pride.

And yes, the bodies are simply buried under shells. Christians in coffins, Muslims in shrouds, all beneath layers of seashells.

Definitely put Joal-Fadiouth on your itinerary when you come to Senegal. You won’t regret it.

Video Transcript

  • That’s Sin.

He’s the owner of the
(indistinct) stand, (indistinct).

And this is Matthew,

our guide for the island,
Shell Island, Fadiouth.

  • [Matthew] Fadiouth.
  • And we just finished a
    tour and I gotta show you

what’s so cool about this,

  • [Trina] is this whole island

is built literally on shells.

It did not exist except for
the people that were here,

How long ago?

A thousand years?

  • [Matthew] 800 years ago,
  • [Trina] 800 years ago,
    they were harvesting clams

and they literally built
this island out of clams.

And it’s mixed in with
some roots and some dirt

but the whole island is like this.

I mean, and it goes deep.

  • Tim
  • [Trina] Bless you.
  • [Tim] Excuse me. Sorry.
  • And so we just wanted to

this is about 25 miles
south of Saly/M’bour.

And we’ve had, as I say,
wonderful guide and help,

and we had to let’s see, and he’s great.

I was gonna say no guide.

And then I’m really
glad I agreed to a guide

because he did a great job
and we had to come across.

  • [Trina] Now I’m gonna
    show you the bridge.

That bridge is a half kilometer bridge

and it goes all the way back.

And if you go follow it all the way back

it goes back to the
fishing village of Joal.

  • Yeah.
  • And that’s why the
    area is called, on a map,

you’ll see it referred to
as Joal, Joal Fadiouth.

And so, hey Tim, you sort
of sat out part of the tour.

  • [Tim] Yeah, I did.
  • But the bridge was fun.
  • My leg gave out.
  • Yeah, Tim has his own chair.
  • My eyes gave out.
  • Yeah. His eyes weren’t doing so good.

And the terrain is, the
shells get kind of deep

and so the terrain is fairly tricky.

And so he sat out part of the tour.

I’m all sweaty because I didn’t
sit out part of the tour.

But did you, have you had fun?

  • Oh Yeah.
  • You enjoyed it regardless
    of sitting a little bit out?
  • I got to see the donkeys and the horses

and the donkeys and the horses.

  • Did any pigs come visit?
  • No, not any.
  • There are pigs on the
    island because this island,

Fadiouth is entirely opposite
the entire population

of the rest of Senegal.

The rest of Senegal is 90% Muslim

and 10% Christian/Catholic.

And here it’s 90% Catholic and 10% Muslim.

They have a cemetery.

They have a Shell Island cemetery

which was really cool to go to.

But the bodies buried there
are both Catholic and Muslim

and it’s still an active cemetery.

And they have special ways they bury them

and I’m gonna explain that all
of the video I’m gonna make

of all the stuff we just did.

But because it’s mostly
Christian and Catholic,

they eat pork.

And so that’s why there’s a
bunch of pigs roaming around.

And Matthew told me that the pigs,

a lot of the pigs have names.

  • Yes. Most of them, they have names.
  • They know their owners.
  • Yes, they know the owners.

They recognize their voice
and they go everywhere

around the village.

At the moment they come back home,

and after eating, they go back,

they go back around the village.

  • So the pigs wander anywhere they want.
  • Yes.
  • And then they go home when
    they hear their owner call.
  • Yeah.
  • Yes.
  • [Emmanuel] They’re not just wandering.

Just a visit, but not wandering.

How are you doing?

  • Doing well.

We’re on YouTube now, we’re
broadcasting on YouTube.

  • Satisfied?
  • Yes. Very satisfied.
  • Very satisfied.
  • He’s an English Teacher.
  • I used to, I was, I’m retired.

When passing by, I heard
Matthew speaking English.

Let me tease her videos.

I’m sorry.

  • [Trina] That’s okay.
  • And what is your name?
  • What’s your name?
  • Emmanuel.
  • [Trina] Emmanuel, nice to meet you.
  • [Emmanuel] Nice to meet you too.

All the pleasure.

How your doing?

  • Doing great.
  • [Emmanuel] I saw you
    coming down from the bridge

in the morning when you back,
when you entering the village.

  • Yes. Yeah.
  • Yeah. It’s a nice walk.
  • [Emmanuel] The village?
  • Ah, the whole thing is interesting walk.
  • [Emmanuel] Whole thing is nice.
  • Yes.
  • [Emmanuel] Really?
  • Yes.
  • [Emmanuel] That means that
    you will have a remembrance

from our village, remembrance.

  • Yes.
  • [Emmanuel] Good remembering.
  • Yes.
  • [Emmanuel] Will you send
    back some other people

from the States?

  • [Trina] Yes. That’s why
    we’re making the video.
  • Oh yeah.
  • [Tim] When they come
    here, they’ll know you.
  • Okay. So now that we’ve made a promise,

all of you watching
when you come to Senegal

you’ve gotta come to Joal Fadiouth

and help us keep our word
that we just said we were

gonna send more people here.

  • Yes.
  • Whether you’re from the US
    or Europe or anywhere else.
  • Yeah.
  • Come see this place because
    it’s really interesting.

Anything else that you wanna say?

  • I think it is okay, you
    made a very, very good

publicity for us.

  • And I’ll make a longer
    video when I edit everything


That’s why I took all those pictures.

  • [Matthew] Yeah. It is very interesting.
  • [Trina] And then I’ll also come stay

at (indistinct) in Saly.

Saly, is it Saly or M’bour?

  • Saly.
  • And because it’s a great place to stay

and Sin really takes care of us.

And so we’re gonna say goodbye for now.

I wanted to keep you up to date as usual

with what we’re doing

and oh, something just,
oh, I got a message.

That’s not important.

Okay. And we will see you next time.

  • Bye.

Team Hazard

Old, fat and disabled and traveling the world anyway. Join Trina and Tim as they wander around the planet bringing you honest stories about the people and places they encounter.

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