Monday, November 30, 2009

embryonic journey

thoughts, emotions, memories have raced through my being- perhaps the most myriad of them all in a period of 3 days as the buses, wagons, cabs rattled on, like the gypsy tambourines, on dusty country roads of the dark continent.
words lost their magic power in this journey- most of them were misunderstood. smiles worked and i am in bamako, mali after a three day journey- i traveled a great distance on different planes- thanks to the kindness of strangers who became friends.

It’s a day to give thanks and I have a lot to be thankful for.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

move to the groove..

i spend a peaceful couple days at Nicole and Curt's. Dinners are home-cooked with conversations about volunteering and environmental engineering. curt has devised a composting system at their house and is in the process of installing solar heaters.

during the day i wander around the local markets, bustling with activity due to the festival, tabaski, on saturday. one day i visit Goree island, a trading post during colonization, and one of the first places in africa to be settled by europeons. i pay a visit to the peace corps office, where nicole works, to get information from the volunteers about the options to go to bamako.

i get a taste of true africa riding local buses and eating street food in dakar. i am ready to move on..

at the mention of the pains of unavailability of information about transportation, someone reminds me of the reasons i chose west africa as my destination- i wanted to get off the grid and go to the final frontier. so i thank him and, with a smile, i board a 'sept-place' to take me 8 hours closer to mali.

its a station-wagon which seats 7 passengers (not counting 3 babies) and double the amount of baggage on the roof and trunk.
the three ladies around me are curious to know why i travel solo. one suggests that i take her baby daughter, ayesha, (an adorable 'bebe' with three braids in her quarter inch hair) with me to mali and back home! i politely decline with a laugh.
after my repeated inquiries of the stop for lunch they offer me bread to nibble on. and time flies amidst stunted conversations of 'elle belle', 'il bon' and posing for photographs.

the path to mali is well-trodden but wrecked with potholes. mile-by-mile i will make it there..

Saturday, November 21, 2009

the times they are a-changin

somewhere between the two countries, time changes..
I, completely oblivious,made a reservation for a hotel and aiport pickup in Dakar, Senegal for the day before I was supposed to arrive :) thankfully an apologetic email from NYC works like a charm.

after having spent 2 consecutive nights on red-eye flights, my feet swollen, eyes droopy, i check in to a clean, austere room on the tiled terrace of a pretty little guesthouse. Wine, lattes, espressos are in abundance - the owner being Belgian. Exquisite art from all over Africa adorns the walls here and there is wi-fi!!

i sleep in most of the day and get up just in time for dinner at a friend's friend place. Curt and Nicole have worked in Senegal for almost 3 years now with the peace corps. A lovely home-cooked meal of quiche and salad with Rose ensues. Tomorrow I will be moving to their place for a couple days before i board the bus to Bamako, Mali or the train or the sept-place (7 seater station wagon).

now off to see africa.. stay tuned