Saturday, January 26, 2008


West Africa

Africa was a tonic and a challenge. Tonic is frequently drunk with gin: it wasn’t that kind of tonic. Paddling a coracle is a challenge, a personal challenge, but it wasn’t like that either. Having said that, I did cross the border between Gambia and Senegal in a canoe. “Out of Africa always something new,” said Pliny the Elder. “Blondes seem to be pretty scarce around here,” said Carl Denham in King Kong. Finding a Welsh flag flying on a pole for no good reason on a random beach is typical of West African weirdness.

Photographic evidence of that minor incident may be viewed here, together with pictures of boats, sunsets, dancers, markets, fruits, monkeys, conked out jeeps, polygamous farmers, marijuana plantations, all the usual things...

Culture shock works just as easily in reverse, something we often forget. Now I’m back in Spain and it seems strange that everybody doesn’t talk to everybody else all the time. West Africans are gregarious in the extreme. Many are genuinely friendly, others are hustlers. The cliche is true: Africa is the ancient soul of the world. But I only saw a tiny fraction of this vast continent and need to return soon.

Nice photos of your Africa trip, Rhys. I find the "Wicker Man" dancer very unusual. If I ran into him (her?) in a cane field on a moon-lit night, I'd run like Hell.
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