Hey everyone.. hope you are safe and happy and enjoying your world. The time just flies.. I can't believe this will be over in a month. I have finally put some pictures up on this program called "facebook". Pictures aren't really my thing.. what I can't describe are the sounds and all the little things.
A few more stories.. After pushing past a thousand drivers and their lackeys in the sprawling Gare Routiere (road terminal), our group split up for the trek north to St. Louis. I like escaping from the city- you breathe fresh air again and hear no noise but the wind ripping past the open windows of the half-dead bush taxi. Moving north I suddenly realise I'm in Africa. We pass giant baobab trees, villages, grandfathers on scooters, desert, baraks (wooden shacks) lined beside the railway that doesn't run anymore, and so on.. when you stop old women race up to your windows with peanuts andbag water and fruit. Dropped off in St. Louis at sunset and wandered around to find our hostel. There were two exciting journeys here.
Jon and I were walking across the "boardwalk" and an old drunk man leaning on his cane pleaded with us to talk with him. After "blessing" us with sand and a bottle cap he demanded a gift. He pushed Jon's coins away, reached into his wallet, took out a 10,000CFA bill (about $20) and ripped it in half, saying money means nothing. Needless to say Jon was enraged, but the man's friends ran away with the money, probably to give to their marabout. (while the talibe children collect coins, and you might think it charitable to help them, as Scott told me, chances are they're just going to give it to their marabout and get beat up). Anyway, to make a long story short, Jon left to find a gendarme and told me to watch over the man to make sure he didn't escape. He tried to flee, and I felt compelled to help him.. he had a bum leg. I looked away while he urinated on a broken truck. He accused me of various things, I accused him of being a drunk old man. He wandered away, and he never left my sight (easy in St. Louis where the streets are in a grid and never far from water and suddenly I hear someone yell my name. I turn around to see Jon sitting up front sandwiched between three officers in a huge paddywagon. They pulled up beside me.
"Where is he?" I looked away. I tell them "..il vaut pas la peine. Mungi dof !" (It's not worth it. he's crazy!) Nevertheless, I directed them to the steps he was resting on, floated in between the small, cheering crowd that had gathered as the officer beat him into the back. The police insisted that I get in the back too because I was a witness. So I climbed in beside him, and he yelled in anger all the way as we drove around St. Louis picking up the rest of his crew, one by one. We were dropped off at the gendarmerie where they were locked behind bars in front of us and Jon gave a deposition. It was fantastic.
The second adventure came when Omar (a random friend we made) insisted we join him on bikes to a wildlife reserve, about 15km away. And us crazy canucks followed him. The mountain bikes could not really change gears, many seized up, two flat tires, and Megan got heatstroke. Once or twice, I saw monkeys beside the road as we rode. The park was abandoned. Indeed, what animals would wander around at noon with the sun beating down and no shade for miles? We were too hot to laugh. We saw some rare gazelles, and giant turtles burrowing in the ground, trying to escape from our stupidity. I asked the guide if there was a river nearby. He told me yes, but when we got there it was a dried up wasteland. I kept walking towards it, but the cracks in the earth got wider, and my feet sank in the mud, so it was probably a mirage. We got high, drank overpriced water and gained strength for the ride back. It was better with the wind behind us, but my lips were cracked and peeling by the time we made it to an ice cream store to recover.
This weekend I went to the Senegal-Tanzanie match at the stadium, and it was my favourite experience so far.. drinking cafe touba and buying biscuits from vendors as the sun set behind us, Senegal triumphed 4 nil and I felt lots of pity for Tanzanie, who managed maybe 3 decent shots on net. It was great to yell football chants and hear advice shouted from all directions in every language, along with dancing and drumming throughout the game. I will try to add my friends' pictures. I got a ride home in a tiny stalling Renault with reggae blasting and no gas. Here is the best part. The driver (Abdul-Karim), a host brother of one of the Canadians, is from Casamance, and his grandmother has a farm about 5km from Kafoutine. I was about to call this off because I'd be going solo, but I have decided to drive with him across the Gambia to their endless tropical forest. [This did not happen, I went to Gambia instead, but it would be cool to go someday] Unfortunately, no one is coming with me, they are scared of Casamance but I know this place will be the best to come. Free mangos and mandarins on the trees, campements, bikes only.. I will spend most of my time in Kafoutine, floating on the ocean, where everything is baba cool, mon. I'm leaving friday and I don't know how long I'll stay. I also want to see Ziguinchor and Bignona, the current and colonial capitals of Casamance. Here's hoping I don't encounter any rebels. Without technology I have a lot more time to read. Finished Wind Sand and Stars,by Antoine St Exupery, it was difficult to put down, the writing was wonderful. I have also finished a few other French books, right now reading Une Si Longue Lettre by Mariama BÄ. A while back finished The Great Shark Hunt by Hunter S Thompson, along with other articles of his, very entertaining, an amazing journey. Finished the Old Testament and now I'm reading the Qu'rân. I also bought a flowing green boubou which I may or may not wear to the airport. Don't know where I'll go after this.. maybe Morocco or Spain for a few weeks to ease the transition to real life and work, which I am dreading but not thinking about.. how can I change this pace of life? Hope to hear from you. Love, Adam