Once you visit Africa you know you have to go back there again. Such a huge continent must be visited more than once to have an idea of all the traditions, tribes, wildlife…Maybe it’s because of the wildlife, or the landscapes or the ancestral traditions but I fell in love last year, and this love is forever. Welcome to the start of my adventure in Senegal.
Last year we visited Namibia, this year was the moment to visit Senegal. A total different country where meeting people is the way to understand the idiosyncrasy of the back continent.
The arrival at night to Dakar was at least bewildering. We were too tired to negociate the change of money and we accepted the first offer we got. Went to the a hovel to sleep and took to plane to go south. The Casamance is often considered dangerous. It’s the southest region of Senegal, separated from the rest of the country by Gambia. The independentists are now in their weakest moments so we were told it was safe to travel there. The medias speak more about death that life in that place maybe because they don’t go there so often. We never felt the danger during our trip. Anyway, we contacted a local guide in order to avoid problems. Leaving this matters behind, Casamance is maybe the most beautiful region of the country: lushy tropical forests, fertil ground for thousands of species, lots of river waterways and the unique and rich culture of the Diola tribe make this region be considered the most beautiful place in Senegal.
When we discovered how we were going to fly, it was shocking. A little propeller aircraft was waiting for us on the landing strip. There was no hold there so the luggage was placed just behind the seats. There was no space for more. My seat was the first on the front. It was funny how the pilots turned their heads back several times to ask me if everything was going good. Anyway, the landscape on the other side of the window was so beautiful I forgot to temble with fear.
Zinguinchor, the capital city of Casamance is the entrance to the region. Some colonial houses recalls better moments of the past. The first feeling is that everything is a complete disaster. The streets are full of plastic, no walking paths, no asphalt, poverty… but then I realised I was in Africa. You get used to that in few minutes. We left our luggage in our hotel and walked the city. The markets and street stalls of all kind of things and all those colours are wonderful. Old trucks, car rapides make the streets full of colourful life. Then I had already changed our minds and perfection about the city.
After a long walk, conversations with local people, price negotiations, we arrived to the Alliance Franco-Sénégalaise, the most beautiful biulding in town. A huge impluvium house decorated with colourful shapes of the Casamance and ndebele from South Africa. Inside, there are art exhibitions, concert halls and a restaurant. The garden was the best place to stay while the sun hit us. My t-shirt was already my second skin, my neck was burning and my hands were sweating blood.
In the evening the temperature was still high and the humidity didn’t let us be on the streets. Waling on the streets was like being in hell. Even then, we had time to learn more about the local species of trees, fruits and traditions.
With every step, someone came to us to say hello and shake hands. They asked us about Spain and how happy they were when Spain won the Wold Cup. They were in love with Spain and it was no strange to see people wearing the red shirt of our national team or old and rugged shirts of Barcelona or Madrid football teams.Lots of kids came out and touched our arms. They wanted to know what our white skin was made up with. Just Any joke made them laugh. Their smile, made me think that, even when they live in poverty, they keep smiling. I wish we could see they same smiles in Europe.
Finally, we went to our guide’s family house and after that, we took a taxi to the hotel. In Senegal it’s necessary to negotiate everything and it takes take from the first price to the final agreement. The taxi was like an old school tunning actino. Dozens of family pictures inside, broken windscreen, stickers and loud music. We reached our destinations in seconds. What a pity! I was enjoying the ride.
In the hotel, we couldn’t do anything else but having a long time desired bath in the swimming pool It was the first and only opportunity during our trip to swim for a while in a swimming pool. I took the krab and the LCA and dived into the water. It’s quite hot but refreshing anyway. I shot some pictures underwater and some kids told me to shoot while jumping. They borrowed my camera for some minutes and played some water games, and splashed while shooting. What a nice and wild moment we lived that evening!
The time passed so quickly that the sunset was already there in the Casamance River horizon. We enjoyed the views, took a beer or two, and spoke about the day passed and the great expectations of unforgettable adventures we were going to live the following days. Night fell in Zinguinchor and we went to sleep while the sounds of nature calmed our tired and sweated bodies.