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

vendredi, avril 20, 2007

Trip to Niamey, Niger (April 9, 2007)

Leaving Jeanne in Togo, Patrick and I had a long couple of days of voyage to our next stop: the home of Geoffrey and Christine in Niamey, Niger. Geoffrey and Christine were also in Guinea and could be among our last PC Guinea sightings for this trip.

The voyage began at 9:00 am when we filled a 10-liter bidon (container) with millet beer in Jeanne’s village and loaded onto a minibus. Millet beer, known as juke in Togo, dolo in Burkina Faso and Mali, and pito in Ghana, is a local mixture brewed by woman and oddly tasting like apple cider. It was to be a gift for our friends in Niamey.

The first leg of transport was from Jeanne’s (near Atakpamé, Togo) to Lomé, Togo. The minibus was jam-packed. The malaria drug that I am on is mefloquin, or larium, and known to have some miserable side effects. Fortunately for me, my reactions have been few and have decreased considerably until this trip. My limbs now have a tendency to go completely numb and within a half hour of the ride my left leg lost feeling. I was able to manage until Lomé, where we quickly found a minibus that was also very crowded but my leg revived itself. This minibus was heading for Cotonu, Benin.

The ride to Cotonu should have been short but included many stops and took a long time. Minibuses do not have set stopping points. If someone wants to get out, they yell. Then, to ensure that the vehicle is always at over capacity the driver will stop to pick up someone else on the side of the road needing a ride. This process continues over and over.

From Cotonu, we boarded a bus leaving at 10:30 pm for Niamey, Niger. So, 13 hours into the trip we began an overnight bus ride that was scheduled to arrive in Niamey around 1:00 pm the next day. Following another border crossing, we arrived in Niamey and were able to deliver the dolo to an excited Geoffrey and Christine.