Casamance

Kazamanse Travel Blog

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very curious children, not in casamance but in northern senegal

Well out of Africa this entry is very very late. (Its now July 2010 and im searching my memory from Tiblisi...) The entry was never written for various reasons. First of all, constant lack of internet and time. The ride in Africa took up most of my energy. Second, it was a dodgy area. We had meet a group of English motor bikers a couple of times on our long way south. They were planning on going through casamance but suddenly one day we saw them appearing on the horizon coming towards us. They had deemed it to dangerous and tried to persuade us to ride around the region. There had been kidnappings, more or less recent, i can't remember and some people were killed. Their route, which was also ours would take us straight through and area riddled with banditry. But the way round was long and the way through relatively short, maybe a 2 or 3 day ride. Julian knew this area would be exceptionally beautiful and we hoped our bikes would have the usual effect of people deeming us to poor or strange to bother with.. So we went through it, and no doubt it was beautiful. Very fertile, full of water and beautiful trees. Some small boys hurried past us on a break only to return with fresh fruits they had cut down for us high up from the palm trees. Like in Guinea Bissau the people were understandably proud of their region.

But their pride was closely supervised by the senegalese army. Here, for the first time in my life i saw how military suppression is exercised. Armed, intimidating men, tanks, jeeps with machine guns attached on the back pointing towards the population, towards us, rolled past us slowly, searching for separatists. As we stopped randomly to put on another layer of suncream three guards came out of the bushes. Until we stopped we didn't have a clue the whole road was supervised. They were friendly, assuring us there were no more problems. Crushing these peoples fight for independence they also made the area safe for us to ride through. There were to be no more hijackings, kidnapings or anything else that may bring unwanted attention to the area...  Now there was just the heavy army presence but even they were not as safe as they made themselves out to be:

A soldier let Julian pass but stopped Daren and me. "Where are your weapons?" he demanded to know.  "We don't have any" But he insisted we must have some, gesturing to our bags, to our tent, anything, incessantly repeating the question" Weapons? Weapons? Weapons?" and then he let us go...

There is a big city there, beginning with a Z....? We stayed there in a beautiful hotel. 3 other travelers were there, all enjoying their experience in this strange place. I remember the evening. We were all on the roof looking at one proper hippie's handmade jewelery he would later sell in Europe.  The sun set coloring the sky orange. The palm trees are so tall and as they reached up, lonely silhouettes against the beautiful sky we thought of south east Asia. The evening was so peaceful, the air quiet, big birds making their way out to sea and the contrast to the army filled streets was striking. Other than that the town was a mess. But many towns are in western Africa, layers of rubbish, plastic bags blowing in the wind and dogs roaming about.... The beauty is contained in shady courtyards, at tables under trees where cats slumber through the day...

But our ride through was smooth, no problems and bar the one guard we meet only kind people...

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very curious children, not in casa…
very curious children, not in cas…
Kazamanse
photo by: roadtrampz