Thursday, 14 March 2013

Unthinking In Nature

Due to lack of efficient internet access recently on my trip through Africa, I will no longer post photos on the blog. Instead, you can follow this link to see the photos on Facebook.

A short bus ride took me from the chaos of Dakar city [click] to the chaos of one of only two roads exiting Dakar city.  My backpack and Eugene the Ukulele sat beside me as I accidentally flagged down a hundred taxis until I finally stopped a car.  When I say finally, I mean just five minutes later.  I'm obviously not tanned enough yet if I easily stand out in a jumble of people and traffic that large!

Mohammed was driving straight to Mbour, perfect for me as this was my planned stop for the night.  He bought us both lunch along the way and then tried to help me find a spot for my tent.  His worry got the better of him as he couldn't settle until he had found a place with security surrounding it.  As I was just winging it myself, I didn't object to his mind track.
"Just a quick stop to get my cheque from work, then I can carry on helping you."
We drove almost half way back to Dakar where he worked as a middle-man in a Dutch-owned agriculture business.  There were hundreds of women picking, planting and caring for the acres and acres of crops, each earning just 2000CFA (approximately 3 euros) for 8 hours work, every day of the week.  Mohammed got his cheque, but then had to cash it; resulting in a busy rush-hour drive all the way back to Dakar.  I was so frustrated at my politeness and inability to say no, until we drove back to Mbour and right into a posh hotel room for the night.

A police checkpoint was the key to hitching to Kaolack the following morning.  I just sat back in the shade as they asked each vehicle for me.  Upon arrival, I was dropped at the edge of town where I walked to the secluded beach side in the sweltering midday sun.  I pitched my tent under a tree right there on the edge of the Saloum River.

Silence was everywhere.  Only the sound of the water, the occasional tree blowing in the wind, and birds and insects singing their songs.  For me it was a time to think and to un-think.  Our minds are so cluttered with old and new information, we are always talking or listening but never really appreciating.  One final treat was on my last morning there; I brushed my teeth at the edge of the sea whilst a flock of a thousand birds flew past skimming the water.

After two nights there I moved on to the border of Gambia.  The border town was busy and loud, and I still hadn't finished with spending time alone in the nature, so I walked to the next small village called Fass.  At the edge of the village I found an empty half-built mosque which could provide shade for my tent over the next few days.  I filled up my water bag at the village's tap and bought some bread at a shop where some women were sitting outside.  They asked what I was doing and where I was staying.  I didn't tell them so much; I didn't want curious people trying to find me.  I spent the next two days looking out onto the vast, untouched landscape, thinking, unthinking, writing, reading, appreciating.

The early evening of the second day was when it all changed.  The women from the shop found me.  We talked, they offered me food, they offered me a bath... and that's when I accepted.  I had been dirty and sweaty for five days.  I couldn't say no.

My time in the nature ended there; it turned out to be more difficult to put into practise than I first thought.  People were just too kind and hospitable.

A bath and some dinner later, the Jonga family were convincing me to stay the night.  I stayed for almost two weeks...

Click here to see the photos for this post on Facebook