Monday, January 11, 2016

A Hippo's Nose

We got an early start in Janjanbureh for what has apparently been our goal this whole time: seeing dem hippos. We got to the dock and our guy hadn't arrived yet so we wandered a bit. This was our first time seeing the town in the daylight, mind you.

Boatman picked us up and we headed towards Basse to do some hippopotamus watching. I don't know how far we actually made it to Basse but that's what was marked as Hippotown on the map. After the day I've been through they better have taught these damn hippos to square dance.

The boat was pretty awesome. It was like someone just welded together a bunch of pieces of metal they found lying around.

The little awning thing about our heads looked to be constructed out of cut up rice sacks.

We saw several hippos's heads poking out of the water. It was funny because we could see their wakes and their bubbles even when they were trying to hide underwater. We would zoom over to one and then cut off the engine, and then the hippo would poke its head up to see where we went. They would whip their ears around and make loud, deep grunts and blow water. It was pretty cool.

Our last action as official Gambia tourists was a visit to the Wassu Stone Circles. I'm not really sure what they are because when I was in the little one room museum with yet another "guide" I took a picture of a sign and the "guide" told me that pictures were an extra dollar. So Evan and I both stormed out to see the damn stones with our "guide" chasing after us. I was pretty proud of us at that moment. With every bogus guide wanting a tip, and every taxi scam weighing on his soul, I can feel Optimistic Evan leaning toward the dark side. If he could be turned, he would become a powerful ally. He will join us or die.

Evan was kind enough to loan me this long sleeve hoodie shirt thing which pretty much saved my life because I was getting owned by sunburn.

"The stone man", as Mustapha called the guide, had a lot of interesting theories about the stones.

The stone man gave us this sheet about his theories. It's sort of like if Glenn Beck wrote the Da Vinci Code. I mean, "Spiderman" has nine letters and this ancient stone has nine holes in it. Coincidence? I think not. He also claims to be pictured on the 10 dalasi note. Sounds legit.

So as I mentioned since we were leaving from a different city to return to Dakar, the trip was completely different.

Every single time we rent a taxi there's some unspoken agreement that they won't pick up anyone else along the way. Well now we've upgraded to a van, which means about 15 more people could physically squish in here. People on the street can see this and relentlessly try to hail our car to no avail. Even the police and military have asked us for a ride but are declined. I'm kind of surprised how well they take it. I think the driver just blames it on us which I am fine with.

On the way back across the river we had our private boat, again which could fit a ton more people. We passed one that was packed full of humanity and the driver was having trouble getting it started. Many of them were just staring blankly at us. I wonder what they are thinking.

Mustapha did his taxi bargaining magic but he decided the price was too high to Dakar, so he had us travel by these Peugeot station wagon taxis called a "sept place". I believe the way this works is everyone just sits and waits until the driver has 7 passengers who want to go to similar places. Mustapha did quite a bit of battling for us, making sure our bags were safe in the trunk, and not tied on top. There was also a lot of arguing about who would sit where. I, surely the largest dude in the car, drew short straw and had to sit in the middle of the middle row. Evan drew an even shorter straw and had to sit in the back row next to a fat lady. I won't even comment on my comfort level. When I got out of the car both of my feet were asleep.

We drove and we drove and we drove. When we stopped in a fairly urban area I was like, thank the stars! Unfortunately we were not at our destination, and we were stopping for repairs.

I do not know what the deal was but I do know that a dude crawled under our car with a blow torch. It was so hard to get out of the car that two passengers stayed inside... while the car full of flammable liquid was being burned from beneath with a blow torch. I stood an explosion or two distance away until they were finished.

It was another bumpy day long journey but we made it all the way back to Dakar, Senegal.

No comments:

Post a Comment