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Jasmine Dispatch

Lac Rose

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The beautiful Lac Rose

Once upon a time there was an Odyssey world trekker named Jasmine, but most everyone knew her as Jazzy. Like her nickname, she was pretty jazzy, with a bright personality, a unique style, and "Colgate" smiles everyone could always count on. Ever since she was a young child she loved seeing people interact, especially her family. There was always so much love, and the energy she felt when they all laughed, talked and ate together was one she always looked forward to. She was a lot like her grandfather, Poppy, that way. Poppy always made sure the Hamlett family had an open door policy. He and his wife, though they didn't have much money, always had lots of love that they gave freely, never expecting anything in return. Poppy was also a teacher, a quality Jazzy always admired in him, as she too loved the special qualities in children. As she got older she began to understand that teaching is more than just time her grandfather got to spend with young people each day. It is an opportunity for him to share his knowledge, to shape someone's mind, thoughts and ideals. "What a powerful position, what a huge and awesome responsibility that must be," she often thought to herself. Some days she would visit her grandfather's classroom and smile to herself as he made teaching look so easy. He had a way of engaging his students so much that they didn't realize he was teaching and they were learning. Poppy touched students that still come to visit him to this day. But after over twenty years of teaching there was no pupil who admired "Mr. Hamlett" as much as his granddaughter. She spent years watching, absorbing and learning from her favorite teacher. Even when he thought she wasn't paying attention, she was learning lessons that she would remember and draw from in time, the greatest of which was the lesson he taught in the example he set.

Today, Jazzy and the Odyssey World Trek team travel the world in search of the ultimate educational experience. Their quest takes them over deserts, through valleys, to small villages and bustling metropolitan cities, and through exotic cultures one after the next. The ultimate adventure - never knowing what to expect or what else there is to learn and discover! All of the precepts we pick up along life's journey, the stereotypes that so often cloud our judgement, and prevent us from stepping outside our own familiar world, are left behind. Each place is appreciated for its own unique flavor, as constant discovery unfolds with fascinating smells, foreign sounds, and delicious flavors. The trekkers wake up daily, not knowing if something completely fascinating is waiting to expand their world, not knowing whose path will cross theirs or how that person will touch and change their lives forever. Today was one of those days, a day that captivated Jazzy, and all she could do was be absorbed into the experience. Through floods of memories, she recounted all of the events up until now that had brought her here. The team had just left Mali, and she was in Dakar, Senegal. Mali had been hard - full of wonder, beautiful people, and unforgettable experiences, but hard. The sun always seemed so harsh, though somehow people still managed to function daily, sweating to sell you something or haggling over tourist- inflated prices. The mosquitoes had the team under constant attack, resulting in Kevin's malaria, which was pretty bad and scary too. But Mali was yesterday, and just as quickly as it came, it was gone. Today, there was Dakar, a city very different from Mali, more prosperous than Mali, and it showed. Life was different here. The air seemed different. The vibrations were different, almost airy, fresh, brightly colored and alive with activity.

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Dakar is just like every other big city
Senegal is bordered on the west by the Atlantic Ocean. Dakar, the coastal capital city of Senegal, is often referred to as the gateway to Africa. The international airport there connects flights to Europe and the U.S., arriving and departing to and from all parts of Africa. A modern metropolitan city, Dakar is similar to New York, Los Angeles or any of the big cities in the States. The team would have had plenty of time to explore the city, but not this day, not Jazzy. There was something special for her today, something she would always remember. Imagine a place, almost like a fairytale hideaway, a quiet village, nestled behind tall banana palms -- beautiful, lush and vivid green. She had seen it on postcards but it was even more breathtaking in person. The ground underfoot was all seashells, the sky was tinted powder blue, and small huts lined the banks of a lake that glistened against the sun. The water reflected the colors of the sun, but like magic, and unlike anything she'd ever seen, the waters were drenched in deep shades of pink. It was like the sun kissed the lake and left each wave to ripple its vivid color forever. Lac Rose, the Pink Lake, was an enchanting place.

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Jazzy and her friend Mamadou sat by the shore for what seemed like hours, lost in thought, in dreams, in the moment. The scenery took her back to childhood fairytales and the storybooks she used to read with Poppy. She thought back to all the things he had taught her over the years, and even though he was far from her, at that moment she felt his presence was near. He had always told her that she could do anything she dreamed she could do, and now, as she stared into a pink lake, she realized she was living her dreams. It was like a fairytale of her very own, except it was real. She was discovering new people, uncovering legends, reacquainting herself with lost history, and sharing them with children everywhere, making learning fun and exciting, just like Poppy had done before her. She smiled to herself, like she used to as she watched him in his classroom so many years ago. Memories came and went, washing in on the small pink waves, and floating away again. It wasn't long before the trickle of the waters as they brushed the banks began to call to her, inviting her to take a dip. She walked as close to the shore as she possibly could without getting her feet wet, examining the water. A novel idea, to actually get wet, but the thought caught her by surprise. It was one thing to see a pink lake but to actually swim in it, was unimaginable. "What types of creatures live in magic pink waters?," she wondered, tilting her head to see the color change at different angles. Then somehow after only a few small steps, her entire body sank slowly beneath the surface. The water was so warm she couldn't help but let herself disappear.

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Jasmine frolicking in the lake
She splashed in the waters for hours, and like children on a playground, she and Mamadou laughed and played all day long. It wasn't long before more friends joined them in the lake, and together they all watched as beautiful birds dipped in with them. The water was very salty, so much so that they could float across the top without even trying. After swimming they rinsed off in a natural spring of fresh water not too far from the lake, sipped coconut milk drinks, and dried off on the shore. The sun was beginning to set and soon it would be time to go. They packed their things to return to the city, and as she looked back at the waters one last time, Jazzy tucked the memory of this day into a special place in her heart. She left refreshed and excited to share the news of the day with the rest of the team. True, this was a welcome break from the long hot days of the weeks before - but it was also so much more.


p.s. - Please e-mail me at


Abeja - You think you've got problems? Try getting across the Sahara Desert sometime!
Team - Kevin Gets a Souvenir from Africa: Malaria
Kavitha - Jammin'.Groovin'.Diggin' the tunes!
Monica - The Ingredients of crossing the Sahara desert: Sand, Water and Landmines???
Monica - The People on the Bus Go Up and Down, Part II
Monica - Trying to sail the ocean blue!
Team - Bittersweet Recollections: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly of Mali
Making a Difference - Abeja gets M.A.D.-- she's Making a Difference

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