Every vision, every interaction, every conversation, every person – in Senegal – is a composition. Like a shaken bottle of champagne, I feel myself about to explode in explanation of what I would easily label, one of the finest, in the cellar of my travel experiences. But those stories will have to be shelved for now as I have neither the time nor Internet access to sit down and share here yet.
So let these two video clips for now suffice, as I pick up my pack and head to the far South Eastern corner of Senegal (Kedougou), and to what I’ve been told is, “the REAL bush.” (To think I thought I was already there.)
A quick journal excerpt while I wait for the videos to upload…
Small dust storms take to spin and wiry bushes reach out to scrape the sides of our vehicle as we wind our way through what I see is appropriately called, “the bush.” Technically there is no road; just some dusty tracks left from the last car that passed that we assume to be the path.
“Could there really be a village out here?”
As I search the horizon, the contorted trunks of the cartoon-like Balboa trees answer my question by standing testament to the fact that everything is unexpected and anything is possible here. Small squatting shadows start to spot the horizon and as these shapes assume postures human, I reason that we are approaching our destination. I see now that it is fields that give our road its new definition, and squinting into the sun, I am surprised to recognize the very symbol that defined my own childhood summers…
My friend and wise instructor of Islam, smiles and answers, “Amazing, isn’t it? We are now in the dry season, and though there is no water in sight, and it won’t rain a single day for months to come, we have plentiful crops of watermelon.”
The sand kicks up from the wheels of our car, lofts into the air and forms a thick cloud that stays suspiciously suspended, perhaps feeling lazy in its own fatigue of the extreme afternoon heat. I grow quiet as my thoughts continuing wandering over the fields and the mysteriously sustained fruit…
“Babacar. The people of Senegal, from what I’ve seen, are just like these watermelon. Despite a harsh, dry and ever-challenging environment, you somehow manage to pull – from no obvious source – upon a deep well of culture-sustaining power. Against all the elements, you bear not just any fruit, but the most vibrant, grandiose and replenishing of all.”
Babacar, the son and study of great Sufi mystic, smiles and responds, “The Qur’an says that Nature IS the ultimate book of wisdom and that we should read and take our lessons from it. It’s a very Sufi observation you have made; perhaps we have in you a mystic at the end of your path?” he finishes with a smirk equivalent to a wink.
And I smile and laugh back.
I could only get one video uploaded, but let me introduce you to Babacar: