Where the road ends is also where it begins

Today was Aaron’s memorial service. Needless to say, it was a hard day for me being so far away from my family without the possibility of getting there. Our well laid plans to start out the morning with a hard boxing session were unsuccessful so I ended up basically running away from home instead. I jumped on the bike with nothing more than my phone, earphones, and the 2.000 CFA note that Rachel put into my hand, with my only plan to ride until the end of the road. I’d been told twice recently to visit Bandial (in The Kingdom of course) and that’s my rule: if I’m told twice I have to obey. Only in Africa though can you leave your house with nothing and be assured that your every need will be met.

I stopped in Essyl to drink some salty well water and just then my dear friend and our project’s coordinator Anne Laure called. We spoke for an hour as I sat in the shade of a mango tree and her words were essential and so so very valuable.

I continued on to the impluvium in Enampore to see my friend Marieme there as she was aware of the significance of the day and would host me without question. She was so kind and gracious. The impluvium is so pleasing; womb-like in its roundness.

Then to Bandial. I don’t know how to describe it as it’s unlike anywhere I’ve ever seen and I was hesitant to take pictures for all the sacred sites there but suffice it to say it’s another world. Now in the dry season, the would be sea like rivers are but plains of dried salt, with barren roots of mangroves and clumps of Baobab trees surrounded by beached shells. Bandial ends in water; literally the end of the earth.

With my goal accomplished I was at that now what moment with the sun at midday, a hungry belly, and a thirsty throat, I decided to look for a family to host me for the afternoon. Just as I started back down the road I’d come from, a pair of hands waved from a house down by the water. I made my way down to them to be surprised to find the hands which were shadowed by the thatched roof of the traditional mud house belonged to white people!

They took one look at me (surely I was disheveled) and offered me wine. Four or so boxes of wine and some fresh fish and rice later, we, plus the two hosts from Bandial, Nina and Remy, were bffs. Paco, a Frenchmen, lives on a nearby island in a thatched roof house with no electricity making canoes and fishing for sharks. His friend Olivier was visiting and they’d set off looking for crocodiles but didn’t find any so were spending a day in Bandial instead. Remy will certainly become an integral part of our project from now on as he already showed me essential insights into the Jóola spoken there and Nina is a terrific cook and ally. My question was answered with assurance: yes I’ll still remain in The Casamance until March. I’ve found my home in The Kingdom.

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