Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Kedougou, the 4th, and beyond…

Recently, I went down to Kedougou (on the boarder of Guinea) to the infamous annual 4th of July party. Some friends and I actually left a few days early and went for a bike ride out to a village called Segou. We arrived as the sun was setting and talked to the guys at the campament about staying the night. They told us that a few days before, the wind had taken off some of the hut roofs but if we wanted to we could still stay there. We put our bikes and bags away and walked to the stream just down the path. We all waded out into the water to rinse off and cool down. Some of our bike ride had been through the rain but by the time we got to Segou, the storm clouds had passed and the stars were out in full force. We all gathered around the two candles they gave us at the campament and made dinner… Avocados, canned lentils, limes, mustard, and mayonnaise on bread. And for desert we had peanut butter and mango jam sandwiches. So good. That night we all slept great and the next morning we headed out to the waterfalls. We biked about 30 minutes, then parked our bikes and started hiking. About 15 minutes in, there was this beautiful pool where we stopped and swam. We passed two more swimming holes on our way up to the falls. When we got to the falls, there was already another group of Peace Corps volunteers there. They had stayed at a different campament about 20k away. We all scaled the rock wall a few meters up and jumped into the deep pool below. It was incredible. Of course on our way out, as we were all drying off, we saw two water snakes on the rocks nearby.
The party itself was fun. A giant piñata full of pints of whisky, cigarettes, and candy. Horse shoes, bocce ball, and beer pong for the more athletic types. And fresh palm wine out in clay pots. The music was good (if only all the speakers worked). The food was great – vats of humus and babaganoush. The dance party wasn’t quite the sexual frenzy it had been the year before but it was still fun. I got a chance to stay in a hotel for the weekend and that was incredible. A giant hut with a shower, air-conditioning, a ceiling fan, comfortable clean beds… what more could you want. Oh, and there was a pool. So sweet.
These days I’m in Tambacounda working on my next film, “Tree Nurseries of the Sahel”. I’ve asked fellow PCV Caitlin Givens to come on as the producer. I’ve written a script and had it translated into French. I’ve drawn up the story boards and cut out and organized the collage materials. Caitlin is writing a proposal for a small grant from the US Embassy in Dakar to cover our costs and we are still looking for local music. I am also hoping to reach the artist in Dakar about doing some of the cell animation of trees growing. If all goes as planned, it will be done and on DVD by the time I leave.
Of course, I am also very excited about the arrival of two of my friends, Duncan and Sahil. They are coming at the end of the month and they’re staying for 3 weeks. I’m going to show them around Senegal, take them down to Kedougou, bring them to my village… I can’t wait. I haven’t left on vacation my whole service so I’m treating this trip as my vacation. Just traveling around, doing the tourist thing a little bit. I’m also interested to see their reactions to things I’ve become accustomed to. And as it turns out, I think I’ll be saying good bye to my village the days that Duncan and Sahil will be there. So that will definitely be interesting. Then, once they leave, I’ll be in Dakar for our COS (close of service) conference and then I’ll stay in Dakar to work on the tree nursery video for the month of September. Then, October 1st, I fly out – to Fatlanta – to my friends and family – to breakfast burritos and IBC root beer… Inchallah.

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