An Island in a Sea of Shells

Recently, I had the opportunity to head to the village of Ndianda, where I will be living for the next two years. It is located outside of the city of Mbur in the Petite Côte region, south of Dakar and Thies. While there I spent time with my family, possible work partners, and explored my large village of 6000 people. I spent my days with Dellie and Gary, the couple currently serving in Ndianda who I will be replacing. They did a wonderful job of making me feel right at home and showing me all the cool sites in the area.

During the trip, I had the fortune to spend a few hours exploring the Island of Fadiouth. From the city of Joal, myself, Dellie and Gary walked on a long wooden bridge to Fadiouth. Glancing over the water, I noticed a strange sight: pigs. Stunned, I watched as twelve large pigs and six little piglets meandered through the calm waters off Joal. As the tide went out, the pigs dug their snouts into the mud flats searching for delicious bivalves and other tasty treats. Indeed, the pigs were some of the biggest, healthiest looking ones I have seen in Senegal.


Pigs in the low tide off the island of Fadiouth

Arriving on the island, I stepped onto a pathway made entirely from loose clam shells. Looking around, I saw that all the pathways were made of the same, small, white shells. Even much of the concrete used in the buildings contained the same shells. The island itself is made out of shells that have accumulated over the years. Leading theories suggest the island was primarily built up by people eating clams and leaving their shells on the island.


The bridge crossing from Joal to the island

Continuing through the winding seashell streets, we came to a large Church. Senegal has long been known for its tolerance of religion, and Fadiouth is a great example of this tolerance. While about 95% of Senegal is Muslim, about 90% of the residents of the island are Christian. The Church exists alongside a Mosque. Crossing to a second bridge brought me to the Fadiouth cemetery, also built on an island of seashells. It is shared by the two faiths. The beauty was stunning: shells everywhere, religious iconography intermingling, caretakers repairing burial sites, and the surrounding mangroves stretching out into the distance.


The burial grounds of Fadiouth

I can’t wait to return in December to my village and, what I think, is the most beautiful place in Senegal.



  1. tbunnyd · November 22, 2015

    Thanks, Bryce, for this lovely description. I enjoy reading your prose and look forward to the next update. I could almost hear the sounds of the shells under your feet and felt transfixed by your description of mosque and church, side by side, in coexisting in harmony. That is what our world needs. Val Lovelace.


  2. mom · November 22, 2015

    Hi Bryce,
    I hope you had a chance to swim with the pigs and I would love to see some photos if possible. It sounds like a beautiful, peaceful place and we can’t wait to visit. Keep on posting your adventures! XOXO Mom


  3. Wayne · November 23, 2015

    OMG, sounds wonderful. We think about you all the time, so glad you’re doing fine. Learning a new language, I still have trouble with English. Again, what is it that you will be teaching and working on. Something to do with agriculture? Miss you, love you and look forward to your next post. Sean’s Dad.


    • Bryce Leary · November 23, 2015

      Hi Wayne! Yes things are going great, we finish training in less than two weeks.

      I will be teaching sustainable agriculture techniques and work on increasing crop production in my village. But first I have to learn the language.

      My best to all of you back home! 🙂


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