27.10.2017, Senegal (south)

The south of Senegal, separated by Gambia is called Casamace. This region is different to the northern part. It has many of marsh landscape and the nature is more diverse. Different types of trees are spending a lot of shadow. Many bars, restaurants and lodges are placed in the middle of the jungle or directly at the beach. A very nice area for tourists.


The cost of Senegal (south) are included in the cost of Senegal (north).

27.10.2017, Day 189, Albadar: Arrived at Kayadj

The re-entering to Senegal went without any problem. I continued my way to Albadar. A small village off the main road. During my summer vacations I get a note in the guestbook of my Website from Martina. She’s a member of www.Afrique-lien.org, an association from Switzerland. She proposed me to visit Kurt Koch, the project leader in Albadar. In the darkness of the night I arrived at the gate to Kayadj and was greeted friendly.

Kayadj is a project to encourage the youths of the Casamace. Here it is almost impossible to get a good education for a profession. That’s why a lot of the good students left the country in the past and didn’t came back anymore. André Ehemba, founder of two big schools and director has put it in a nutshell: “We need apprenticeships for the young people who want to stay in the country!”

Kurt and his Team from Afrique-lien are creating a wood manufacturing school, to teach the youth in carpentry. The school is leading and pushing in dual education system as known in Switzerland. Where the students were taught in practical work at the workshop and in theory in a classroom by different specialists. The final goal is that the school is operated by the state of Senegal and the workshop can fund themselves. The school and workshop should be led by local citizens and the knowledge be taught from one generation to the next. The team of Afrique-lien is very small and flexible. Because they work very efficient, they’ve already created a lot with a small amount of money. I really like this kind of project where the locals were taught to help themselves instead of being spoiled with a finished product, building or a lot of money. It’s the more sustainable way.

For more information visit www.afrique-lien.org.

28.10.2017, Day 190, Thiobon: A Day with Kurt Koch

A Spanish foundation is building a health center in a nearby village. Kayadj was invited to offer the doors and windows made of wood. Kurt and two of his students went there to discuss some details and I joined to see how it will go on. The volunteers were well prepared and the meeting went efficiently forward. After a while the Team from Kayadj had all the information they needed, that Kurt can calculate the price and offer it to them.

After the meeting we visited another project in this region, also leaded by a Spanish foundation. Here they were building 13 school buildings which were used as class rooms. At first glance, it looks like an art project is growing here. The design was unique and had some very interesting technical details. We went back by car and I enjoyed the views from the comfortable backseat.

29.10.2017, Day 191, Albadar: More about Kayadj

The course at Kayadj takes 4 years of teaching in all the things, which are necessary to run the school and to do the job. Each year there is an admission-test for the new students. Only the 4 best students of the test get an apprenticeship. So there are maximum 16 students at the same time in an apprenticeship. The teaching is individually for each student. They will be taught in the professions skills of a carpenter but sometimes it’s also necessary to repeat or teach some basic skills. For example school skills like reading, writing, mathematics, geometry and languages or some general skills like how to use a phone, to driving a car or to handle with responsibility. Kurt often spends a lot of time and energy to teach and explain something to his workers and is taking it very seriously.

30.10.2017, Day 192, Albadar: Regular working day

Today was the first day after holidays and the workshop was in operation again. The work which doesn’t need any designing or planning, is handled by the employees which have finished their study. Today they had an assignment to plane and cut some wooden plates. The work was done quick and sociable.

31.10.2017, Day 193, Albadar: Kayadj radio interview

I used the time to update my blog and watch how the work was going on in Kayadj. End of this week were the admission-tests. Kurt and some of his students went to the radio station to promote the school and inform about the details of the test. All workers from Kayadj were excited listening to the radio and the interview. At the end even some people called in the studio to ask questions, means the information successfully arrived at the listeners and awaken interests.

01.11.2017, Day 194, Kafountine: Fishermen of Kafountine

After his work, Kurt asked me: “Have you already been to Kafountine? No? If you’re here, you have to see this!” So he took me with his car to Kafountine to show me the city. It was much bigger than I expected but wasn’t very different to other cities I’ve seen in Senegal. Till we hit the gate to the port. “The fishing port is like a city in the city.” He explained to me. “They have their complete own infrastructure and even some employees to soothe disputes between all the people.” It was a very special atmosphere. Tons of wood were laying around, waiting to be burned to smoking the fishes. The air was full of smoke, ash and the taste of fish. On every corner was a fire and hundreds of fishes on top of it. My eyes and lung were burning just the second we entered the clouds of smoke. Unbelievable that the people are working here for hours every day.

02.11.2017, Day 195, Albadar: Admission-test at Kayadj

The candidates for the next year study at Kayadj arrived in the morning to write the test. Kurt was busy with organizing his day and I helped him a bit. The rest of the day I prepared my luggage to continue my journey.

03.11.2017, Day 196, Djimakakor: Cycling in Casamace

I spent my last morning at Kayadj and had a nice final conversation with Kurt during breakfast. After the goodbye to everyone, I went on to explore the beauty of the Casamace. Soon I crossed some women fishing in a pond by hand with a net. Nothing compared to the fishing scene in Kafountine, but they will catch enough to feed their family and friends.

On my lunch break I sat under a tree to prepare my food. I just started to eat as a big ant fall on my arm and bite me. I was wondering where it was coming from and found a carpet hanging on a branch of the try to dry. The ants gathered there to draw threads out of the carpet. The teamwork was amazing! One ant was not strong enough, so they bite in each other’s back to build a rope and pull together.

For the night I found a nice spot on a clearing in the forest. A bit of the road in the wilderness. Perfect to see far and watch the birds and nature.

04.11.2017, Day 197, Tionk Essil: Another day in the wilderness

My way continued along a variety of trees, plants and landscapes. The leaf on the picture is just an example, how exotic it is. When I crossed their houses, the villagers were waving and smiling friendly to me and the kids were yelling “Toubab! Toubab!” (means white man or stranger) and tried to run next to me as fast they could.

On a lake, I took a brake but as allways I didn’t had a lot of time for myself. Soon some kids spotted me, which were shepherding a herd of cattle. They handed me some Ditakh fruits and I shared my water with them. The hard cover of the fruit can easily break away to get to the green pulp. To eat all of it, it’s necessary to suck the pulp from the hairs of the stone. It has a very special taste. Later they farmed some peanuts from a close tree, made a fire to roast them and invited me to join them for lunch.

For this night I found again a quiet spot just at the lake. I expected a lot of mosquitos so I hurried up with making a fire, cooking and hide in my tent when they start attacking me. Fortunately there were no mosquitos at all and I could enjoy the sunset with my omelet and some bread.

05.11.2017, Day 198, Bignona: Invatation from Amadou

The cycling today was as varied as everyone in the Casamace. From grey marsh, mangroves and bridges, to colorfully forest and clearings. In the forest an older woman called Fama went in a conversation with me and told me she wants to go to Europe to work. Once again I explained how hard it is to immigrate in Europe and that she would have a much nicer live if she stays here, where she has got her family and her plants where she just can pick her food from. She was a smart woman and realized quickly that her image of Europe was wrong. Happy about the enlightenment she gave me one of the fruits she was just picking.

Normally I avoid to sleep in cities, but at midday a young man joined me for lunch and invited me to stay at his family’s place. The main reason why I stopped in Bignona was to buy a local natural “Sirop de Maad” I tasted in Albadar with Kurt. But unfortunately, I didn’t find the place to buy it.

06.11.2017, Day 199, Ziguinchor: To Guinea-Bissau

After a relaxed night at Amadous house, I left early in the morning to reach Ziguinchor in cold conditions. It was a cloudy morning and I have made the distance without any problems. I arrived at the crossroad where the Embassy of Guinea-Bissau should be, but I didn’t find it at the first try. I recognized another white guy with a bicycle and went to him. Marcelo from Portugal did the same tour like me some years ago and is building an authentic tourist center in Ziguinchor. He guided me to the embassy, the photocopy shop and finally to almost each banc to withdraw some money. Most of them had a problem and we had to move on. He facilitates my stay in the city a lot and I was happy to meet him.

Because I want to reach Bissau bevor Thursday, I moved on to the boarder.
I often heard about the fact that the mining right for some areas in Senegal were sold to foreign countries. They want to get Zircon and Ilmenit minerals. For that they would have to remove a lot of trees and sand. Locale citizen are worried about their future because if the sand and trees will be removed, the water from the sea could salty the ground and destroy the agriculture.
As I saw the two trucks close to the boarder, I thought it’s the right time to write about it.