Feb 22, 2009
Wow, so as of yesterday I have been in Africa for 8 months...and i have 17 more to go...thats so much and so little at the same time! So how is everyone? I hope you're all well! I've heard from a few of you, Aunt Jen and Sandi and Cory (Le garcon court...hahaha) and I love to get updates so keep them coming! Here's what i've been up to:
I just got back from my little mini vaca...a week backpacking in Senegal. We walked through the countryside village to village, swam under 300ft waterfalls in deep ravines, watched monkies play and saw baboons and warthogs out the car windows, slept in grass huts under giant mango trees, and made tons of new friends! After a week of non-stop walking i threw the towel in, admitted defeat, and went home on my own because of my blistered feet, while the others continued on foot to Guinea. I had a fantastic time though and I was starting to feel that "get back to work guilt" anyway, I'm not here to just abandon my projects and head out on vacation whenever I want and I needed to get back to do some actual work because I don't have mine quite as figured out as my traveling companions did and I felt like i had left some loose ends.
While traveling my cell phone was stolen so I have already gotten a new one but I need to buy a new SIM card for it for Mauritania before I can recieve phone calls, so mom, dad, and cory, when I get it I will call one of you to give you the number so we can talk again! I miss my weekly calls!
I'm trying to think of some fun stories from my travels to share, the whole thing was absolutely one of the greatest adventures I have ever been on in my whole life. I was seriously sad to call it quits early, not to mention terrified of traveling alone back to Selibaby but I ended up really enjoying the trip. When I opted to start back we were staying at a village campement in Dindefelo, Senegal, a little village with a gorgeous waterfall and a decent amount of tourism (for a small senegalese village) with no real regular transport into town short of renting an entire 4x4 which was way out of our price range. This was the leg of the trip that scared me to do alone, we had walked to 35k out there from the nearest city and I had absolutely no interest in walking it back alone. Fortunatly the manager of the campement found me an extremely nice french couple who were passing through on their own vacation and had rented a 4x4 that was planning on leaving the same day i was, the catch: they weren't going all the way back to the city. They gave me a free ride out to the main road, knocking 25k through barely there and confusing criss-crossing roads off my walk and deposited me on a wide well traveled roadway 10k outside of town. I started walking hoping to get picked up by a taxi brousse coming from somewhere else and heading into town but it was not to be. Only one vehicle passed me on my whole entire walk and he had no interest in picking me up, although there was steady bicycle traffic and i was offered several rides on the backs of those (i turned them down though, i had a big bag and walked seemed less likely to end in disaster). I reached town with much of the day left ahead of me so i continued on to the garage and caught a car to the next city on my route back to Selibaby. It was a hot, sticky, miserable car ride with a woman getting sik in a bucket in the seat behind me that left me feeling queasy and dirty and when I arrived at the garage in Tamba I grabbed a town taxi, climbed in and said "take me to a nice hotel, really nice, but not too expensive...preferably with a pool." The driver said he knew three and would take me to each until I found one within my price range. I splurged on the first one we stopped at, wasted no time booking my room, deposited my bags on the ground and made use of the first hot shower i've seen since new years. The hotel staff were incredibly friendly and fammilliar with peace corps. They all called me by my local name, greeted me like an old friend in Pulaar each time I saw them and were sad to see me go so early the next morning to catch my car to Bakel. I loved it there, I felt like i wasn't a tourist at all, just a friend passing through.
My car trip to Bakel was much more pleasant than the previous days voyage. Igot the first place in a car that i thought would take hours to fill (it won't leave until the 6 other places are all sold) when a family of 6 showed up headed the same diretion as me to attend a religious ceremony for a family member. Perfect! They were a friendly and fun pulaar family of the surname Diallo (the bean eating cousins of the Ba's so for the duration of the trip they changed my name to Amineta Diallo and would refer to me only as such). They shared their bread and I gave them all pieces of chewing gum i had gotten from the states. They told me that if I ever go back to Tamba I am to find their house and pay them a visit (impossible as Tamba is a huge city and probably 1/3 of the population are Diallo's, but the thoughts very sweet!) and we parted ways as I got my town taxi to the river and they got their car to their destination city. My taxi brought me right to the banks of the river where I passed through the police post more easily then it ever is when traveling in groups and bought my place in the wooden dugout canoes to Gouraye, on the otehr side of the river. Once in Gouraye I had an eaqually pleasant time with the gendarme post over there (unheard of in mauritania, they just love to give us a hard time!) and easily found my place in a car to Selibaby, without even trying, in fact my place came and found me before i had even reached the garage, the ticket man knew exactly where i was going.
When all was said and done, I was shocked to learn that I absolutely LOVED traveling alone, that said I probably won't do much more of it but it wasn't the scary experience that I had thought it would be. It was fun and easy and strangely empowering! I ate in a restaurant by myself, stayed in a hotel alone, haggled taxi prices, made new friends, crossed borders and rivers, walked 10k, and turned down 4 marriage proposals. If i can do that, i can do anything!
Now i'm back at home and completly out of internet time but I miss and love you allllll and i'll write more soon!
Pay it Forward
1 year ago