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Ω2

Senegal: Swimming in the Atlantic Ocean!

   There were some interesting places around Dakar that we wanted to visit. On Sunday morning we attended the renowned service at Keur Moussa Catholic Monastery. It was so crowded that people were standing even on the courtyard! The service was quite interesting, with melodies played in some parts, while the choirs were chanting. It was such a peaceful and harmonious tune…

   Then we visited the fishing village of Kayar, where we saw hundreds of colorful pirogues, some lying on the beach and some inside the sea! People were unloading piles of fish. We didn’t miss the chance to buy some for the family that was hosting us. Fish is the cheapest food you can buy in Senegal and most people eat for lunch, as well as dinner, rice with fish and vegetables. The menu is almost always the same. At least, they have some tropical vegetables and fruits, which they use for making various sauces that make the dishes tastier.

Fishermen just returned with fresh fish at the beach of Kayar village.

   With the locals depending on fish so much, imagine how cruel it is when huge fishing boats from Europe, China and other countries grab this vital wealth from the sea of Senegal, Mauritania and the neighboring countries. In the last few years this situation has created enormous problems to the fishermen of these area, who are unable to find enough fish and are sinking to the poverty furthermore…

   Don’t think that Greece does not have a piece of this pie. At the port of Dakar we met a Senegalese guy who knew a few Greek phrases. He told us that he had picked them up by Greek sailors who come down here with fishing ships. Indeed, just a walk around a Greek fish market is enough to verify that the Senegalese fish is being sold there. Of course, all of these would not be possible without the blessings of the corrupted governments of the African states. Good news is that just a few days ago the Senegalese government withdrew the license of some boats that were fishing in the area illegally. Unfortunately there are many others that keep on doing their dirty business. You can watch a relative, very interesting documentary made by Small Planet on: http://www.smallplanet.gr

Exploring the gorgeous Siné-Saloum Delta…

   It was time to continue our trip to the south. We visited some lovely villages around the Siné-Saloum Delta, where the scenery began to seem more tropical. There were rivers and lakes everywhere, while the flora was blooming! It was there where we wild camped under the shade of a baobab for the first time. Baobabis (my motorbike) was finally at home! We really love these trees with the huge trunk!

Wild camping under the shade of a baobab for the first time! Baobabis (my motorbike) was finally at home 😉

   We decided to avoid entering Gambia and go the long way around this country. First of all it is a tiny country full of tourist resorts, something we don’t really enjoy. We would also have to pay for a visa again and for passing through the customs offices twice, once for entering Gambia from Senegal and then for re-entering Senegal. Too much fuss for nothing…

Shepherds are bringing their animals to the water holes.

   We decided to ride 900 kilometers (559 miles) around Gambia. This road took us three days, as a big part of it was just a network of huge potholes. There were some parts literally without even one meter of solid tarmac, which made us ride on first or second gear. In some parts of the road there was some dirt on the side of it and that was where everybody chose to drive on as it was more smooth. That’s what we did too. At least there was little traffic.

We needed three days to cover the 900 kilometers (559 miles) to Ziguinchor, since a big part of the road was just a network of huge potholes.

   Nevertheless, we enjoyed the ride as the landscape was very intriguing! When you hear about tropical Africa, what pictures do you bring in mind? That is exactly what we laid eyes on for the first time: thick vegetation of tall palm trees, magnificent baobabs, stunning fromager trees, rivers, ponds, colorful, exotic birds and enormous lizards! This jungle was regularly scattered with round huts built of mud with a  thatched roof. Friendly peasants were walking or riding their bicycles from one settlement to another, while women were carrying goodies balancing them gracefully on their head.

In South Senegal it was the first time we saw the images we had in mind about tropical Africa…

   That was how we entered the region of Casamance, which is quite distinctive from the rest of Senegal, being the jewel on her crown. It was once the main tourist destination of the country. Then, the struggle for independence of the region started, soon evolving into a civil war. The last truce was signed and sealed in 2004 and since then the situation in the area is quite calm.

   In Ziguinchor we were hosted by Alioune, an open-minded school teacher who was born in Casamance and has experienced the difficulties of the past years. He lives with his wife, his two adorable kids, his brother and his elder mother.

Eating with Alioune’s family the everyday dish of Senegalese people: rice with fish, vegetables and sauce made of tropical fruits.

   Christina could not wait to visit the notorious beaches of the region! We rode at the villages around Cap Skiring and explored the endless beaches meter by meter. Nowadays they are quite deserted, so we rode on the beach for many kilometers in order to find the nicest spot. That is where we wild camped for two nights, under the shade of some trees. The sea was just a stone-throw away and it was time to enjoy our first dip in the Atlantic Ocean! We were playing with the huge waves and Christina was thrilled!

On the Atlantic Coast a huge lizard and a team of vultures were trying to share a big fish which had been washed ashore!

   By our return to Ziguinchor, we were feeling some muscle aching and had a little fever. We were planning to leave for Guinea-Bissau but we thought it would be wiser to check it out first, in case we had caught some disease. We went to a doctor who immediately confirmed us what we had in mind… it was malaria, both for me and Christina. Don’t be scared though! It was not something serious. It is so common here, that locals deal with it as if it was a flu. Many people fall sick with malaria almost every year, but most commonly during the rainy season. Of course it can happen in the dry season as well, as it was the case for us.

Christina made tresses on her hair! She looks like a Senegalese now!

   Most of the locals cannot afford to visit a doctor and buy medicines. They grow a low tree which they call “doctor”. They put four or five leaves in a mug with boiling water and drink this twice a day. They say that this can cure malaria within a week. Nevertheless, we did not want to take any chances and have further problems while on the road. So, we were drinking our tea but also taking the anti-malarian medicine prescribed by the doctor (40 mg Artemether + 240 mg Lumefantrine). It looks like we were at the first stages of malaria, so after three days we were both completely healthy again! Even though we carry all the necessary medicines with us, we did not take any chemoprophylaxis to prevent malaria. When I was travelling in Asia, I was on mefloquine continuously for one year. I had no apparent side effects, but I did not want to take so strong drugs for such a long time again.

 

Here you can watch the video about our adventures in Senegal:

Soundtracks (Senegalese music):
Ismaël Lô – Tajabone
Konté Lamine – Negritude (Extrait de Cahier d’un retour au pays natal)
Youssou N’Dour – Tan Bi (Heat, Breeze, Tenderness)
Sonar Senghor & His Troupe – Sibi Saba
Youssou N’Dour – Mbëggéél Noonu La (Because Love’s Like That)
Agami Thite – At the Pothole (Greek music)
Youssou N’Dour – Moor Ndaje (Mr. Everywhere)
Youssou N’Dour – Li Ma Weesu (As In A Mirror)

 

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