A Terrifying Time at an African Fish Market


it’s been a little bit and I feel like I
owe you guys a story so sit back cuz this one’s a doozy I was sitting on a beach in Senegal on
the continent of Africa for those of you guys who aren’t up on African geography
Senegal is the western side of Africa it’s actually one of the countries that
I think is like the most Western country and closest to the the Western
Hemisphere Americans don’t really think of Senegal as much of a tourist spot
there’s a lot of Europeans who like to go to the beaches of Senegal and hang
out and chill out and enjoy the time now I was personally sitting on that beach
in Africa at that time because I’d come over to visit my wife Allison Allison
had been away for about eight weeks she was working in Dakar and a couple of
other cities I was living in New York at time and I had a job and so I couldn’t
go over there with her and so she was over there it was like I think I was
like a four-month assignment this was like the two-month mark and what we had
done was coordinated so that I would take a vacation and come out and visit
her in the middle of her assignment we decided to go down to a place called
M’Bour it’s a really nice sort of beach town really world renowned for its
beaches and you know we figured it’d be a good place for us to kind of hang out
together and chill and enjoy each other’s company
one afternoon Allison had to deal with something I think it was related to her
job and so she wasn’t going to be able to hang out with me that afternoon so I
had an afternoon to myself and I was just basically sitting on the beach and
I’m the type of person who ever since I was like a little kid
I have Hey the beach I’ve always found it boring
it’s just not no natural habitat I mean look I thrive in a place like this you
know a sandy hot beach you know in in Africa is just it’s just not my thing
I just basically when I’m out there I just look like a sweaty panda bear a
beach and people look at me and wonder why the heck is this sweaty panda bear
lying on the beach it’s just not a good scene for me and I
was really bored gosh you know I’ve come halfway around the world I was hoping
for some fun I was hoping for some adventure and Here I am just bored
reading a copy of The Wall Street Journal on the beach and just not
feeling it one of the things though that Allison had suggested to me before she
went off to go or do her work stuff was that I could go visit the fish market
Bohr has this renowned fish market where you know hundreds and thousands of
people are coming to you know purchase fish and trade and exchange fish and you
know it’s just a bevy of activity it’s one of those things that people always
describe as a place of a lot of excitement and a lot of interest so I
kind of figured what the heck let me go down to this fish market I looked on a
map and it looked like it was only about a mile or so away from the hotel that we
were staying at and so you know I walked out the front door of the hotel and
started toward the direction of the fish market I didn’t walk maybe more than 15
steps past the barrier of the hotel it had this like fence and gate and you
know armed guards and you know kind of a standard foreigner Hotel in Africa type
of setting and I didn’t walk maybe 15 steps out of the hotel when I was
approached by a teenager really skinny kinda short he came right up to me and
introduced himself his name was the world-famous Gabby de maestro and he
wanted to know if I wanted to be taken on a tour to the fish market I don’t
know but this kid was like spot-on this was definitely what I was looking for
you know really number one Senegal is a country that primarily speaks French and
I don’t speak any French whatsoever and here this kid was coming right up to me
speaking in English I was like wow you know having a tour guide who knows the
area and speaks the language could be a really handy thing
so I asked him how much it would be for a tour he told me that for the
equivalent of five American dollars he would take me around for the afternoon
and show me the fish market and show me all the hidden places that they don’t
show the tourists and give all the inside views of everything given that I
was just lamenting how boring this afternoon was and how unhappy I was with
the experience I said sure now this is somewhat unlike me I don’t
necessarily look for adventure directly I’m usually I don’t know a little shy
about that type of stuff I you know very distrustful of strangers but I was
feeling a little bit bored and adventurous that afternoon but I said
okay sure let’s do it man so Gabby whistles and waves and then within about
thirty seconds a rickshaw that’s attached to this rickety old bicycle
pulls right up next to me and Gabby says hop in and so Gabby HAP’s it hops in the
back I have hop in the back and off we go down the street towards the fish
market Gabby’s talking a mile a minute about this and that and asking me
questions where you from what do you do blah blah blah blah but uh you know
going a mile a minute I’m just trying to keep up and make my sentence through his
accent and try to understand what he’s saying but I’m having a good time I’m
like really letting myself relax I’m really starting to enjoy being in a very
strange place a place that’s very different from where I had been living
as well as it plays very different from where I’d come from and it was just this
awesome experience and we eventually pull up to the fish market and we get
out and I was expecting it to be like I don’t know like a structure and like you
know a building and there’d be stalls and merchant stalls but really all it
was was a whole bunch of people congregating on a beach
there were blankets of women who had fish you know just out on the sand
sometimes on the blanket you know just all spread out different types of fish
piled in different clusters all over the beach there were men pulling these long
wooden boats up by hand and they were sort of carrying them off the water they
apparently go out like a couple of miles I’m talking they’re going in the
Atlantic Ocean and rowboats I’m just amazed seeing all the activity Gabby
takes to me to the place where they actually build the boats and shows me
that Gabby’s explaining to me the different role
and the different jobs that people have I’m like taking pictures and just
learning and observing and it was just this incredible incredible experience
the sights the sounds the energy there were like these Japanese guys in like
like hazmat suits who were trading cash with women and men on the beach buying
up fish and Gabby explained it to me that they buy it for sushi that they
ship all over the world you know I was just having like the best afternoon you
know Gabby and I walked up and down the boardwalk a little bit I needed a buying
I’m a coconut and I bought a coconut and we’re drinking coconut water right on
the beach and it was just awesome and we were just having such a good time
Gabby and I were really bonded man like I like this kids energy he’s just like a
real like natural ham he keyed in on the fact that because I was living in
Brooklyn at the time I must have known the wu-tang clan and we started talking
about hip hop and apparently you know in Senegal in the early 2000 teens their
hip hop knowledge really stopped in 90’s hip hop which is really good because
that’s about where my hip hop knowledge also stop and after about two hours
Gabby’s like so do you want to head back to your hotel and I’m like yeah let’s go
man this was awesome you did such a good job and so we hop in the back of the
rickshaw the rickshaw takes us back to the hotel but just as we’re getting you
know maybe two or three hundred feet from in front of the hotel the bike
stops and Gabby says that’ll be five dollars and I’m like dude you earned it
I give the rickshaw driver the equivalent of ten bucks
I give Gabby the equivalent of 20 bucks thank you so much this was incredible
you totally made my afternoon and just as I’m about to get out of the rickshaw
Gabby stops me and he pulls out a piece of paper from his pocket and he hands it
to me and I pull out the piece of paper and I unfold it and I look at it and as
I read it my heart just sinks to the bottom of my stomach because the note
says you are now our hostage I have two men with guns watching us please be
quiet while we go to the nearest ATM IIIi was like blown away by this I look
up I look at Gabi he looks really nervous and anxious like
you know he really fidgeting really anxious and I don’t quite know what to
do about this but I look at the note I look at Gabi I look at the rickshaw
driver who’s looking at me too and then I look at my hotel which again it’s
about 200 feet away you know they got the armed guards the whole nine yards
all of that and I take one last look at the note and I say okay close the note
up toss it at Gabi and immediately run in the opposite direction the guards
look at me like I I basically just try to explain to him this guy just tried to
kidnap me and and I I’m just trying to get away and the guards look at Gabby and
the rickshaw driver and me and you know again Here I am about you know two
hundred and fifty pounds you know and here he is like five foot three maybe a
hundred and ten pounds and they’re looking at me like they sort of chuckle
and one of the guards explains to me that that ransom technique is actually
this scam that had been going on for years and you know I was probably smart
to just right away and that was the best move but but they were just chuckling
and seeing my big portly frame running towards the hotel and well at first
after all this happened I was really mad because I was really mad at Gabi yeah
man we had bonded we’re friends we’ve been talking about 36 chambers but then as I thought about it I
realized look he’s just trying to make a buck I’m a guy who’s been blessed with
so much abundance in my life here he is trying to take just a little bit more of
that you know while I don’t have to yield to that I also shouldn’t resent it
and when it all comes down to it and made for quite the adventure here I had
been bored and bummed out that I was just sitting on a beach in in bore you
know feeling like no adventure ever comes my way and then BAM
here it comes there’s adventure so if you’re ever on a beach in M’Bour Senegal
and somebody approaches you about a tour to a fish market take him up on it but
you know maybe be a little bit careful so I had a little story I wanted to tell
you guys today it’s about the farmer who lives across the street from me oh shoot water doesn’t flow

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