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

mercredi, septembre 13, 2006

September 9, 2006

And the answer to the question of the day: I am even one more year older today. The past few years seem to fly by with increasing speed and provide me with amazing friendships and adventures. I can only hope that this next year in Africa will be as wonderful as I think it will be. If today’s celebration is any indication, it will be a great year.
7:00 – get the day going with an early morning run. The run included three waist-to-chest deep river crossings, hill climbs, scenic villages and rocky descents.
9:00 – end of practice school ceremony. The kids seemed to love it. Speeches were given, the high school students sang songs to show off their English skills and awards recognized the top students.
Lunch and purchases for the evening’s celebration (Ecole Pratique is over after all) took a bit of time but by 3:00, a group of us were heading to the river. Patrick and I had convinced six others that walking up to the place where we tried to float our bikes the previous day and swimming back to town would be a great idea. The walk out to the jumping in point took an hour. A 10th grade student of mine followed us through the river crossings and the rice fields but when we jumped into the river he looked at us as if we were completely crazy.
The float was beautiful. Lush, green vegetation densely packed the river’s edge. The current was quite strong and we were transported downstream at a quick pace, occasionally kicking to stay afloat. After 30 minutes, the initial enthusiasm of the adventure had faded and people started to question how much farther we had to go.
“The guided portion of this trip ended when we jumped into the river,” was all Patrick and I could say. We really had no idea how long we would be in the river. The river always seemed to bend in the wrong direction. Finally, after an hour and a half of floating the diagonal leaning palm tree that marks our normal swimming spot was spotted. A bit waterlogged, we slosh onto the bank and walk home.
That night, the current volunteers cooked everyone a Mexican fiesta and we celebrated (we even had electricity!).