Wednesday, January 11, 2012

On the road again

This past month of December we were both traveling a bit.  Ben went up north of the river to visit a COSing (close of service) volunteer with our counterpart Solo.  They went to see a duck/poultry/guinea fowl project that this volunteer had developed.  Solo and his brother are interested in starting a duck project so we thought it would be good to see a successful one across the river.  Solo also really appreciated the opportunity to travel north of the river to a Wolof village near Senegal.  Like most Gambians, he hasn’t had the opportunity to travel very far from our village.  Him and the Peace Corps volunteer’s counterpart exchanged numbers and became good friends.  Solo is planning to have ducks at his compound by next month and we are also buying a couple ducks for him to keep for us since our compound isn’t quite big enough for a duck project.
I went on a 5 day hiking trip with 5 girls to a region of southeastern Senegal called Kedegou.  It was a great trip but it was too bad Ben couldn’t come.  We hiked two days to two waterfalls, and also hiked up a hill to a bedik village of about 8 compounds.  The bedik village looks like picturesque Africa with mud, grass huts and no signs of western or arabic influence.  We stayed at a lodge one night and at the regional peace corps transit house the rest our time there.  We had a good time talking with Senegalese volunteers and making pizza in their mud-brick oven!  It was really fun to experience a completely different part of West Africa.  This area has tribes of fula, bedik, and bassari who seem to be more relaxed than the wolofs, mandinkas, and jolas in our area.  They also learn French in school so it was fun to hear French spoken everywhere.  And we were all impressed with how developed the remotest part of Senegal actually was.  Things like sidewalks, bridges, paved roads, restaurants, and shops were all new and fascinating to us Gambia volunteers.  We especially loved the hamburger made with delicious buttery homemade buns we ate in Kedegou – Oh, the differences between and French and British colonies! In terms of landscape, it was wonderful to see hills again.  We also got to see monkeys, baboons (smaller and different from the ones we have here), different bird species, and my favorite – warthogs!

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