Sunday, 27 April 2014

Election Fever In Bissau and Relaxing Days In Casamance and Gambia...

We left Bissau at the height of election fever. The city was heaving with activity and thankfully peaceful, with a positive mood all around.  A drive day took us to Senegal’s Casamance region, where we spent a week exploring and relaxing: Fishing trips, exploring villages and craft markets on bikes, boat trips to nearby islands, and plenty of live music and dancing.

Relaxing days by the Casamance river, Senegal
Nicky, Steve, Derek, Paula, Adrian Getting Into The Rhythm Of Senegal!
Ali Joins In With The Limbo
The fishing port we visited in northern Casamance was quieter than usual as the previous night’s fishing had been poor. Luckily we got to see the vast quantity of fish that was caught in previous days being salted, dried and smoked to be sent upcountry, an extraordinary sight!

Fish Smoke House And Fish Drying In The Sun (Sascha's Photo)
These Guys Collect The Fish That's Been Dropped As The Huge Catches Are Brought Ashore
Our stay in Abene with Simon was a real highlight of the trip. The Koumpo dance we saw started slowly, as the Koumpo is a forest spirit who needs calling to the village with drumming. Fortunately, the spirit does also have a mobile phone so he knows roughly when and where he will be called! A stilt dancer joined us as the music and dancing built up ahead of the Koumpo’s arrival.

Ash Prepares For A Cameo Appearance
The Stilt Dancer Warming Up For His Performance With The Drummer Calling The Koumpo In From Afar!
The Baby Watched The Ceremony With Bewilderment!

It's very difficult to visualise what the Koumpo is doing under all the leaves; the spike comes out of his head, and remains stationary in the ground as he rotates around it.
The Koumpo Has Arrived!
The Koumpo Whipping Up A Storm In Senegal!
Later, two dark creatures turned up for the next stage of the ceremony. The children ran away in terror too quickly for us to catch them on film!

Koumpo Dance Senegal
This Creature Came On After The Koumpo And Scared The Kids Off In a Frenzy!
Koumpo Dance Senegal
A Hot And Sweaty Performance From This Child-Scaring Creature In Casamance, Senegal
Senegal Tourism Overland
Ladies In Their Colourful Fabrics Singing Along To To The Performance (Photo From Passenger Liz)
The next morning we visited a giant fromagier tree, considered sacred by the locals; it's actually 6 trees fused together. We also visited the local bat colony and met the chief before some relaxing beach time.

Fromagier Tree Senegal
Liz Climbing The Impressive Roots Of The Giant Fromagier Tree (Photo From Liz)
The Kora performance that the talented Gambian Griot, Hami Saho, gave us in the evening was much more subdued than the Koumpo dance the night before. He took time to explain Griot traditions, the history of Kora playing, and the meaning of each song.

Hami Saho Gives A Beautiful Performance Of Kora Music
Gambia Tour Overland
Ben, Ash, Laura, and Adrienne, Learning About The Kora and The Life Of A Griot
A short drive saw us leave Casamance for a few days in the Gambia. We took boat trips to see birdlife on the Gambia river, and had a great evening of music and dancing around Aminah courtesy of the village.

Tendaba Camp Gambia
Lazy Days By The River At Tendaba, Gambia
Dave, Liz, Kim, and Nicky Dance Around Aminah At Night, Gambia
The ferry across the Gambia river at Farafenni was as entertaining as ever; long periods of waiting around for something to happen, entertained by the many people selling colourful fabrics and cheap Viagra, punctuated by sudden frantic bursts of activity as the traffic moved onto the ferry.

Does Anyone Know Why A Drainage Culvert In Gambia Is An Irish Crossing (Photo from passenger Birgit)
Overland Group Africa
Steve, Adrian, Julie, John, and Liz On The Ferry With Aminah Tucked In
Our last full drive day of the trip took us back to Senegal, for a last night of relaxing on the beach before finishing our journey in Dakar.

Overland Tour Senegal
Derek By The Coast On Our Last Night Before Arriving Into Dakar
Cows Casually Strolling Along The Beach In Senegal (Photo From Di)
We had some excellent French food on our last night and a sample of the local nightlife. There's lots to see in and around Dakar, and many of the group headed to Ile de Goree on the last morning of the trip. 

For Aminah and Al the epic overland journey was not quite over. A 7,000 km + journey lay ahead in Mauritania, Western Sahara, Morocco, and Europe......long days cruising across the Sahara, listing to lilting desert be continued.....

Trans Africa Overland
Al, Alice, And Aminah En Route Through Western Sahara Heading For Morocco

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