Kafoutine – a respite

Overnight ferry from Dakar to Ziguinchor – not too bad, albeit not a lot of sleep in the airline style seats.

Arrived off the mouth of the Cassamance river just after sunrise, for a pleasant “cruise” up river, arriving at Ziguinchor around 10:00. By the time I had disembarked and recovered my back pack and steppe outside, the thermostat had well and truly been turned up to roasting! After the relative cooler clime in Dakar, this takes a bit of adjusting to…

Mad dash around Zig – firts stop Guinea Bissau consulate for a visa – this took all of 5 minutes and with the minimum of formalities. Back into town to change some euro’s before heading to the gare routier to secure a seat in a sept place.

Journey from Zig to Kafoutine took 2 1/2 hours, arriving at The Kora Workshop – http://www.thekoraworkshop.co.uk/ – in time for dinner. The workshop is run by Kath Pickering and her partner Adam with the help of Jobarteh and his wife.

Lunch is the main meal of the day, with typically a dish of rice with a sauce of fish and vegatables – all eaten from a communal dish. Dinner varies – from a barbeque by a log fire to salad and eggs. If you’re up for a bit of local game, theres always bush rat – bit like a cross between rabbit and squirrel!

After the noise of past 10 days – it was never quiet much before midnite in Dakar, it was a shock to experince the peace and quiet of the campement. Chilling for a few days…literally recharging my batteries (metaphotically and physically) before I head off to Guinea Bissau on Monday.

Yesterday went done to the fishing port to watch the catch being landed – what a spectacle. Kafoutine is the largest port in Senegal, with some 300 boats operating from it – double its size of a few years ago.

The fish is collected from the boats which lie offshore at the surf line – porters wade out through the surf to chest height to collect of box of fish – they then “run” the 40kg box to the market – got to admire these guys for their strength and endurance – really tough job thats paid some 250cfa per box (30 pence). They will make up to a dozen runs – damn hard way to make a living.

The fish market is a sight to see in its self, with fish lying out to dry, being smoked or shipped fresh to markets. Fish is exported to The Gambia, Mali and Guinea Bissau, as well as for domestic consumption. Nothing is wasted – skin and bones going for fertiliser.

The ecological consequences of sustaining such a large fleet are enormous – both in terms of overfishing and the impact on the bush, as wood is cut for smoking the fish. The reality is that the port’s life is probably shortlived at this current level…

Tonights “Reggae” night in town – another late night in the offing.

Next update will hopefully be from Bissau