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SEPTEMBER, 2009

 Strange gifts, Peace Core houses and Banjul



Hi everyone,

 

A lot has happened since our last blog and I have a fantastic story for you about our time in Dakar.  After our last blog we went to a number of bars in Dakar and drank until we run out of money, it was still only 4pm so we decided to get some more money out.  At the bank we met a nice local who offered to take us to a cheap local bar.  This bar turned out to be basically somebody’s house.  We decided to stay and brought a couple of beers.  After about an hour a very happy gentlemen entered the room and sat next to Alan and I.  It turned out that his wife had just had his first child, no wonder he was happy.  We sat chatting away about his new born child and our journey when all of a sudden a thought flashes into his head.  He said to us “I want to give you my sacrifice” and pulled out a rather large lump of gold and gave it to me.  He said we could never sell it.  Both Alan and I where very confused as he tried to explain that it is tradition to give a sacrifice of your ancestors trade, to a complete stranger for his first born child.  His father is a jeweler which is why he gave us gold.  They believe that if you give a sacrifice to a complete stranger, strangers will be generous to your child in the future.  We gratefully accepted the gift and even more gratefully accepted the second lump of gold he decided to get from his father so we could both have a gift.  This was a cereal moment and it became even more interesting when it turn out he was having a naming ceremony the next day at his house and he wanted us to attend.  We again gratefully accepted even though we where supposed to leave we decided we should hang around for this.  It turned out that at the naming ceremony they kill a lamb and it was the receivers of the sacrifice that gave the lamb as a gift in return.  We had no idea what a lamb cost or where to buy one so offered Abdou (the new father) 40,000 Francs (55 Pounds) to buy one with.  He clearly was expecting more but we felt this was a very generous offer and he accepted.  The next day when we got to Abdou´s house everyone was so happy to see us and all said how they never expected us to come.  But unfortunately Abdou´s wife was taken into hospital for some reason and the ceremony had been called off.  So instead Abdou introduced us to all of his and his wifes family and friends.  Then came another show of generosity.  Abdou´s father decided to give us 2 bracelets and another lump of gold which we were told where gifts to our mothers as a thank you for bringing us into the world and therefore into their lives.  We couldn’t believe what was happening and joined them all for a few beers to celebrate.  We where later told that it was customary for us to give a gift from our mums to Abdou´s parents as a thank you for their generosity.  This was getting expensive and we had nothing to offer except money.  We decided to offer 15,000 Francs (20 Pounds) claiming it was all we had.  This again was not enough as they expected more but we felt it was all we could offered and apologised for having nothing more to give.  Abdou asked if we could stay another day just incase his wife made it out of hospital but we couldn’t afford to stay in the hotel another night.  Abdou´s cousin, Ali kindly offered a solution by offering us a place to stay the night.  We agreed he would meet us at our hotel at 4pm and travelled back to the hotels to collect our bikes and wait.  4pm passed and there was no sign of Ali, then 5pm passed and we decided to call Abdou who said he would find out what was going on.  Then 6pm passed and Abdou was no longer answering his phone and at 7pm we decided we had to leave or else it would get to dark for us to get out of the city and find somewhere safe to camp.  As we where leaving Abdou called and said there was something wrong with his wife and Ali wouldn’t be meeting us.  I told Abdou we had to leave and wouldn’t be able to see him the next day, he said he would call me later but never did.  This was a really strange set of events and I hope I didn’t ramble on to much for you but it was a very interesting experience.

 

As we left Dakar we headed to the most Westerly point of Africa and got very lost.  Luckily an American from the peace core offered to show us the way and after finding out what we where doing offered to give us contact details for peace core houses along our trip, what a result.  Two days later and we had cycled to the peace core house in Kaolack, where we spent the night getting drunk with rowdy Americans.  As far as either Alan or I could work out the people of the peace core have a lot of time on their hands and use this time to get drunk.  We really enjoyed our time at the peace core house, even though it was very brief.  I’m looking forward to the next one.

 

The day after leaving the house we made it to The Gambia and met up with Anna, whom we had previously met in Nouadhbou, Mauritania.  Anna had kindly offered us a place to stay near Banjul but it turned out she was going home to Germany.  This meant we could only see her for the one night but she has very generously offered free use of her home whilst she is away.  We have now spent 3 days relaxing in Banjul and will depart tomorrow heading in separate directions.  Alan is going to take the South road along The Gambia River and I am going to take the North road.  We will meet each other in 2 days time in Georgetown.  We decided it will be nice to spend sometime cycling apart and this was the perfect opportunity.  Anyways I have been rambling on, for which I apologise, but now Alan and I are going to a bar called Churchill’s (recommended by our fellow traveler friend Dean in Agadir, Morocco) for Karaoke.

 

Thanks for reading.  Sorry about the length but a lot has happened.

 

Ian  



posted by   September 05, 2009 9:41 PM  EyeOnAfrica  comments (4)



 




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