Day 26 & 27 20/1/13 & 21/1/13 – departure to Ziguinchor and Dakar.

Today onward, starts the travel back home. I travel in small steps, gradually. My packing was almost done. I left all the clothes that I came with, with Coral to be given to this Leprosy community in Ziguinchor. That way, things that I don’t need go to people who have nothing. I made sure that the staff at Les Belles Etoille also got a little something each. I was pretty much travelling with only my djembe, the skins (which I would check in) and a little suitcase with almost nothing. Not bad for a month’s travel huh? In spite of this I was ten kilos overweight. Sigh, I took a walk around the hotel where we had been every day, so regularly, to give it one final glance.

It is customary of Africans to give fruits to people who are setting out on a journey. So we had our share of fruit given very generously by the cleaning lady whom I never spoke to but always saw working had every day. I was very touched by her generosity.

With every few days the groups in the group photos kept getting more and more intimate. This was the final group as Tannis, Owen and I said our goodbyes.

The last group photo in Abene, Les Belles Etoilles.

Abudu drove us to Kafountine from where we would take a share taxi to Ziguinchor. Based on my experience of getting to Abene, I was ready for a very dusty journey. So I wore my skull cap and tied my handkerchief around my face and looked like a dacoit/robber the entire way, but it was worth it. In true style, there was a lot of haggling for payment for the luggage we were carrying and the odd ‘controls’ at the border but nothing we couldn’t handle with some help from the locals we were traveling with. After two hours of inhaling dust and being tossed around like salad we reached Ziguinchor and then made our way to Seckou’s place where we would meet Alieu, drop Owen and break journey for lunch before we left for the airport and got ready for another set of goodbyes.

Once again, in spite of his crazy schedule, Seckou had organized some Thiebu Djian for us and Even though we were pressed for time, we ate to our stomach’s content; quickly, but to its content nonetheless. Khadijah, (Seckou’s charming friend) offered to call the airport and let them know that we were on our way. I love that this was possible. I reminded me of Pune airport many years ago. She also drove us there and so we were at ease and didn’t have to worry about not making it in time. God bless them. We reached the airport in the nick of time and had help from the airport staff thanks to Seckou and Khadijah. I felt like a rock star in Ziguinchor for a bit.

After having a closer look at the tickets while sorting out the excess baggage formalities (surprise surprise!), I realized that the flight to Ziguinchor was via Cap Skirring. Yet another hopping flight in my destiny. The flight to Cap Skirring was (believe it or not) ten minutes. And here I thought that the Mumbai – Pune flight was short.

We reached Dakar after two hours and went straight to Hotel Kingz Plaza. I felt familiar in an otherwise overwhelming big city. After settling in and freshening up tannis and I decided to head into the city to have dinner. Personally I wanted to eat Maffe Poulet (chicken in peanut sauce) one last time. We found a lovely place randomly from the Internet called Che Loutcha. It was a cute little place with a calm and peaceful ambiance and not to forget, mouth-wateringly delicious food.

That night I slept in since the following night would have to be spent in a flight. I checked my emails after almost a month and started the process of sieving through the junk and spam, under protest, little by little. It felt vaguely different to be connected to the world once again. I’m taking things in small doses so that it’s not too much of a blaring shock for me.

To continue the family and familiarity in Dakar, Tannis and I got in touch with Matar, who lived there and had invited us to have lunch with him. He lives in home with his large family and within no time we were relaxing, reminiscing and eating a delicious portion of Thiebu Djian.

Tannis and Matar, at lunch!

After a filling lunch we decided to act like tourists for a change and hence visited the island of Goree. This is where Senegalese slaves were kept and then shipped to the USA. I had a mixed feeling as I first saw the island from the ferry.

Our first sighting of Goree island from the ferry

I didn’t know what exactly to expect. The island now is a tourist destination and despite its dark history is very beautiful. There are a lot of restaurants and handicrafts for sale.

The house of the slaves was definitely a place that made us think about the kind of atrocities humankind if capable of.

some of the rooms at the House of Slaves, Goree Island, Dakar , Senegal

This is the last port (the place the slaves were put into the boats and taken to the USA).

How ironic… the first thing I saw as I walked towards the ‘Last Port’

We got back by 8pm and decked to meet Myriam who was also in the city taking her Sabar dancing course. Our last dinner would be one with beautiful people we met, the hospitality of Matar and his sister Khadi and great food.

The Last Supper 🙂

I was honored by the openness, generosity and hospitality of Matar and his family. I will miss him when I leave.After dinner it was that time again; we said our penultimate goodbyes and took a taxi to the hotel where I’d get three hours of sleep before I embark on my journey home and spread the learnings and rhythms I learnt on my West African Djembe Classes here.

Come. Drum. Be One.

Taal Inc.