Always in the deep woods when you leave familiar ground and step off alone into a new place there will be, along with the feelings of curiosity and excitement, a little nagging of dread. It is an ancient fear of the unknown and is your first bond with the wilderness you are going into. What you are doing is exploring. -- Wendell Berry

The TRIP: GUINEA - wonkifong --> MALI - bamako, djenne, douentza, Dogon Country --> Burkina Faso - ouagadougou, bobo-dioulasso, bala, ouagadougou --> GHANA - tamale, mole national park, tamale, yeji, volta lake ferry, akosombo, accra, green turtle lodge, elmina, cape coast, accra, hohoe and wli falls --> TOGO - kpalime, atakpame, lome --> BENIN - cotonu (transport stop) --> NIGER - niamey, tahoua, agadez, camel trek in aiir mtns, niamey --> BENIN (abomey, grand popo, ouidah, ganvie, cotonou) --> CAMEROON (douala, buea, top of Mt Cameroon, limbe, sangelima, yaounde, kribi, douala) --> MAURITANIA (nouakchott, atar, chinguetti, camels into the sahara, terjit, choume, ride the coal train, nouadhibou) --> MOROCCO (western sahara, dakhla, agadir, essaouira, marrakesh, imlil, summit of jebel toubkal, fes, chefchaouen) --> cross the Strait of Gibraltar --> Malaga, Spain --> fly to Geneva, Switzerland --> Les Grangettes, France
Click for a map. Updated April 30, 2007

lundi, septembre 25, 2006

Remember Morlaye

Remember Morlaye, the one who welcomed me into his family as a brother,

Tall, lanky, too skinny from illness,

Eyes, engaging, playful, yellowish and cloudy from illness,

Wool hat, even on hot, humid days,

Hair under the hat, dark with a white spot in the front.

Remember Morlaye, the 38-year old nicknamed Bebe,

He was the youngest son,

Though not the youngest of six.

Radio on, the news was his constant companion,

Morlaye would talk with me about any and all: taboos, politics, religion, culture,

His French was well-spoken, voice clear

Thank-you for helping me learn the Guinean twist on French,

Thanks again for laughing and encouraging my feeble attempts at Susu

Remember Morlaye, the one who would walk with me to uncover the paths of Forecariah,

The bridge on a clear night, reflections of the Milky Way and its partners in the river,

The family rice fields on a plantation 5k from town,

Night walks as I gained night vision on cloudy, electric-free evenings dodging to avoid puddles,

Off to the club, an introduction to Guinean nightlife.

Remember Morlaye, the one who laughed at me the morning I was ready to leave with my shirt inside out,

Only to laugh more when we realized

His shirt was also inside out.

Remember Morlaye, father of two,

Marian, his wonderful 16-year old daughter, the pride of his life,

She passed the national exam only days before.

Remember Morlaye,

My first Guinean friend,

My teacher,

My brother.

One of the things that I am going to have to steel myself to is the fact that death is so much more present in Africa. At the end of my host family stay, my brother Morlaye passed away. It was a definite shock for me as he was truly the one who helped me begin my integration into the Guinean lifestyle. I will miss you and I wish you could give me the surprise visit to Wonkifong that you wanted to take once your health recovered.