Long time no write. I was thinking about it but just didn’t have a quiet moment of creativity to press out few words of the experiences we had this passed months. Busy and vibrant Dakar got me really tired so in the evenings I just wanted to fall in the bed without touching the laptop. The first weeks we were working hard trying to find the right people for the project by chatting with everyone and running after the waves. Then I got sick and we had to take a break from everything.
I was exhausted for almost two weeks without energy or will to do absolutely anything. I started to sink in the negative swamp of my mind but Giovanni kept me bravely on the ground. After two nights of fever and suffering from terribly running nose and sore throat I visited the local heath center of Ngor to take the test for Malaria. The experience was definitely interesting - the doctor checked my blood pressure, looked into my mouth with the light of her cellphone and described me 5 different medicine including strong antibiotics. Then I went to the laboratory for the malaria test which was just a tiny sting on the finger and the nurse got few drops of blood for the examination, I could come back for the results around 3 o’clock. Of course we understood the time wrong and the health center was already closed when we came for the result. Another nervous day without the answer passed and the next morning we were again in the health center with this grumpy nurse who, after questions “Why didn’t you come yesterday?!” gave me an envelope with my laboratory results which I had to bring to the doctor who could read it and give me another descriptions if needed. I peeked in and saw the word NEGATIVE which was enough to release me from the worries. The doctor confirmed the information and asked if I had took the medicine she had describe for me. Giovanni tried to explain to her that we wanted to get the result first and she was just rolling her eyes. I guess the people here just eat all the pills doctor gives without any thoughts. With a lot of rest and throat calming ice cream I started to get better without the drugs.
The third week the waves disappear and we were a bit frustrated to get the project rolling forward again. Then the swell got better and I couldn’t think about anything else than surfing. We were all the days at the beach, I was in the water twice a day and finally improved my skills with the new board Kala Surfboards donated for the project. We had some beautiful days in Ngor Right with Malika Surf Camp who kindly offered us a lift to the spot with their boat. Dakar days passed fast in good company of the local surfers and nice expats and travellers we met in the water. Surfing is such a great way to meet people! We collected quit a pile of material that we are starting to go through.
We packed our stuff, said goodbyes to our beautiful room in Ngor village and took a taxi to the harbour. The Third chapter of our travel started with 15 hours of ferry ride to the city of Ziguinchor in the South region of Senegal called Casamance. We thought that taking the ferry is the easiest way to reach South, another options would have been a long drive in a hot car through the Gambia with all the fuss in the border controls but now we know that it isn’t painless either. The tickets we bought already a week before the travel at the harbour (the travelling agencies take commission of course) and the prices were around 15 000 XOF/ pullman seat and 18 000 XOF/ bed in a room with 8 people. In the boarding we spend few hours hassling with the extra payment for the surfboard bag and Giovanni’s camera equipment. They were trying to fool us to pay some cargo handling for the camera bag Gio was carrying as his hand baggage. In the end without proper skills to argue well in French or Wolof we gave up and let them to weight half of the accessories so we paid 2000 XOF for the cheating bastards. It is good to be on time in the harbour so there is time to handle all of this toubab fooling necessities. We got in the boat and since we just had reserved the pullman seats without a cabin we decided to stay in the upper deck to watch Dakar fading into the horizon. In the end the boat left around one hour late, it already got dark when we started moving so we didn’t see a shit and we thought that we need some activity to spend the time in the ferry so we bought one beer and another one and probably 3 more. We were lucky to enjoy a small party started by a big group of French tourists in the deck bar. After 2am we tried to sleep in the crowded lounge of pullman chairs. It didn’t work that well thanks to the Senegalese ladies next to us who were chatting loud without caring about other people sleeping around. We strongly recommend to book a cabin with bed. On the way back it saved our travel since the sea was strong and we got a bit seasick. Around 8am we arrived in the harbour of Carabane and we climbed up slowly from the bottom floor back to the deck to see where we were. I was feeling so tired and tense but when I watched to the green waves of the river and saw two beautiful dolphins playing in the water my thoughts turned bright again. The breeze was soft and warm, palm trees moving slowly on the beach of Carabane - Finally we were in paradise!
It took another few hours floating in the river to arrive in Ziguinchor. The ferry was at least 3 hours late from the schedule and we needed to wait for the baggage in the harbour for a while. When it was time to pick up the baggage we had to find them by ourselves from a huge hall with hundreds of other people looking for their belongings. Uh the feeling was like in a crazy market place but this time you had lost your bag in the buzzing crowds. In the end we found our stuff even the surfboard bag without a scratch so we got out and bargained a taxi to bring us to Cap Skirring. For the one hour drive we paid 15 000 XOF, the sept plus shared car would have been much cheaper but in a need of some commodity with our luggages we are used already to pay some extra.
While I was writing or drawing I sat on the patio of our guesthouse watching the wind pressed waves in front. No need to go anywhere or do anything. We noticed that surfing is possible only early in the morning when the wind hasn’t started to blow yet. The swell has been quite small so the waves are very sensitive for the strong wind to push them down. Surfing at a beach break is anyway a nice change after ruining my feet at the rocky spots of full of sea urchins in Dakar. But it ain’t easy! The current is pushing and reading the waves well is important to find the perfect positions for the take of.
The Guesthouse, Campament Chez Bruno (Noppalou) is situated just in front of the beach. We have a little bungalow 10 000 XOF per night without a kitchen which is a bit a shame because it is not so cheap to eat in a restaurants here. Well the lunch is affordable 1000 XOF for a plat du jour at a beach bar but the dinner which we usually have in our campament is 2500 XOF per person. Again I have to remind myself that it is 3,85€ for a plate of grilled local fish with nice salad, potatoes, bread with tasty sauce and suddenly it doesn’t seem so expensive anymore. Trying to live low budget for 3 month is not the easiest task here in Senegal especially if you travel. The lowest day budget we reached was around 20€ for both of us and this means shared plat du jours, home made sandwiches, noodles, the cheapest hamburgers of the menu, fattaya sandwiches at the street, filtered tap water cooled in the freezer we luckily had in our flat in Dakar.
The centre of Cap Skirring is few kilometres away from our quiet beach campement. It’s a small village with some restaurants, shops, busy bank, medieval hospital and a crazy reggae club called Baobab. There is not so much to see so we have just spent our days at the beach which is unbelievably clean. The sea is not bringing loads of plastic junk so the sand is just full of seashells, dead fishes and some chilling cows. Yes, the cows are hanging all day long by the beach with several packs of semi wild dogs. We were truly on holidays these passed days just enjoying the sun, the sea and good night sleeps in our quiet fresh little bungalow. The nature in Casamance is so beautiful and green with coconut palms, bananas, mangos and sweet papayas growing all around.
Now after 1,5 months of surfing in Dakar and two weeks relaxing in Casamance we are finally back in our base Waaw artists’ residency in Saint-Louis. The weekend was super bustling with events of music, art exhibitions and parties of The International Jazz Festival. The town was like a completely different environment with the streets filled up with tourists, festive locals and artists. We also organised a little open studio exhibition with few printed photos and illustrations to present our ongoing project. I can’t believe we only have two weeks left in Senegal! Still many interesting things to do so we will be BUSY.
Have a great 1st of May everyone!
Friends in Finland: Eat a lot of donuts and drink a glass of sparkling wine.
We will go for our daily Thiebu djen lunch ;)