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

jeudi, novembre 23, 2006

Education, Friends, Cool Weather and a Thieving Monkey (November 15, 2006)

The last four days I was at an education seminar hosted by the Peace Corps outside of Mamou, which is a city in the Fouta region of Guinée. I left my site with a Guinean teacher from my school and we were met by 20 other education volunteers. Each volunteer came with a Guinean counterpart. The seminar was organized by two education volunteers (Sarah and Irabella) who are on their second year of service. The goal was to discuss math and science education and introduce alternative techniques. As a first conference, I left thinking it was a great success. My Guinean counterpart was extremely excited and there was good discussion between participants.

The conference also allowed me to spend time with other volunteers that I have not seen since moving to site at the end of September. It was great to visit with these friends. Patrick and Rose came from the northern Fouta, Jeanne and Kate from way out in Haute Guinée (getting close to Mali), Ian from Fria and many others were there.

I was immediately struck by the climate difference. Patrick, Rose and I went on a walk at 2:00 in the afternoon the first day before other travelers arrived and it was so comfortable to move around. At Wonkifong, the heat keeps me from doing almost anything in the afternoon. We followed a beautiful trail that wound through a forested area and met someone who gave the directions of continue until you find something that looks like it was once a railroad track and swerve away from it on another trail towards the left. Patrick and Rose were the ones who shared the great bike adventure in Forecariah and at one point we found ourselves wondering if our little walk was turning into another experience but this time the road really was “just around the next bend”. That night, I was required to sleep in my sleeping bag liner and use a wool blanket. At site, it is too hot to even use a sheet. Patrick tells me that at his site he has to wear socks and a sweater to bed. I can’t even imagine cold weather at the moment.

I’m left with the thieving monkey. In past trips to Mamou, a monkey or two had been seen in the trees surrounding the buildings but this time the monkey was bold. It would enter the dining hall and escape with as many bananas as possible. This activity would anger the Guineans who worked there while the Americans thought it was great – probably the reason that the monkey continues to take things. Ian later gave the monkey a closed, plastic bottle with peanuts in it to see if the monkey could open the bottle. Unfortunately, it failed even after a few demonstrations.