This is the ancient village of Joal-Fadiouth in West Africa, southeast of Dakar in Senegal. Joal is part of the main land mass and Fadiouth is an island made of clam shells. Despite the consistent seasonal flooding of the entire landscape the residents still numbered nearly 40,000 in 2007.
The Mosque of Fadiouth Stands Like A Castle Made On Clams
The local population of Jaol-Fadiouth is comprised of strongly religious groups mainly Muslims (Joal) and Christians (Fadiouth). The total square area of the clam shell cluster is approximately 7,465 acres (or 3,021 hectares) and it is home to thick mangrove woods which are inhabited by a variety of sea birds, hyenas, monkeys.
Predominantly still considered a fishing village (since it hosts the largest fishing harbor of Senegal), but tourism and even agriculture have given rise to this calcium carbonate cay which remains frozen in time.
According to local legend the island began as a discard location for clam shells and to this day fishermen and women preparing shellfish discard the shells on the street. One tourist described the “standard of living albeit poor, appearance is one of the best in the country.”
Walking through the village, “the bright white ground cracks at every step”, and has among the only “decent” public toilets and showers, indicating they value their Western tourists.
The island is known (and most photographed) for the large cemetery where the cross headstone markers fill the horizon line and bulging piles of shells make it seem as if bodies may just be buried not very deep among the shells.
Feature image courtesy of Dreamstime, Shell collecting.