It had been a long ride from Dakar, that started well before sunrise, before my shared taxi pulled into the road station of Ziguinchor. Before starting to explore the town, however, I wanted to try to get my visa for Guinea Bissau arranged; one taxi ride to the consul's home, and less than five minutes waiting for the representative of the small southern neighbour, dressed in a simple white shirt, was all it took for yet another visa in my passport. I left my stuff at a simple hotel, and when I walked out, it was at that time of the day when warm light fills the streets. Walking the sandy streets, I soon felt welcome, as many people smiled at me, waved, and greeted me politely.
Most of the buildings looked in a bad need of some maintenance, and many were in a state of decay. This, of course, added to their attractiveness, and the friendly light of the late afternoon gave them a glow that made them look much better than they probably did under other circumstances. Many of the streets in Ziguinchor have trees, and especially when I got closer to the river banks, these were often filled with large, yellow-billed storks making a lot of noise. When I was close to the river banks, a lady with a baby on her back approached me, with a big smile, and before I knew it, I had a shell-stringed bracelet on my wrist, while she said that was a small gift to bring me good luck. While I was looking out over the wide river, with some pirogues plying the waters, she started with all the things she could arrange for me: tours on the river operated by her brother, lunch, and more, before she dragged me to a basket full of wooden pieces of African art. She was now telling me how her husband had died just months before, and who was going to take care of little Fatima, not looking very happy om her back, who also happened to be ill?
After managing to find a way out of the difficult discussion, I walked west, to where the fishermen take in their pirogues, and where I found a small fish market. Here, a young guy walked with me, enthusiastically talking about the village, and how he was the son of the district chief - until he asked for a small contribution for the village. Would buying 20kg of rice not be a nice gesture? I walked back to town, passed some beautiful old storage houses, some made of wood, and more classical buildings, before I hit the main street. An older guy approached me, and after some small talk, I suddenly found myself in front of a table full of more wooden craft. He claimed he had not sold anything that day, and if I did not buy anything, he would not be able to pay transportation back to his three children who were waiting for him. While trying to politely explain that I had just arrived, the lady with Fatima I had met before, passed by. I had just arrived in West Africa - and yes, this was exactly how I remembered it. The next morning, I had a more pleasant and undisturbed walk through town, before leaving for Guinea Bissau.
Personal travel impressions both in words and images from Ziguinchor (Senegal). Clicking on the pictures enlarges them and enables you to send the picture as a free e-card or download it for personal use, for instance, on your weblog. Or click on the map above to visit more places close to Ziguinchor.
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