An Old Book and the Sea or Sniffings in Casamance
Trip Start Sep 01, 2012
32Trip End Ongoing
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We had sniffed out our own perfect spot of sand to set up kennel camp, in the land of Sweet Casamance. The ocean was at paw for our bathings, tall trees sheltered us from buffeting winds and fed our fires. I soon discovered that the sands were the most enormous and generous dinner bowl I had ever stepped upon, a veritable magic porridge pot of fishy products spewed up by the picky waves. However, you can see from the pictures below that I did have to assert my canine authority over fiercesome feathered creatures when it came to the reclamation of these fishy products.
There was just one thing which our kennel camp needed, water without a nasty taste with which we could moisten our long and short tongues. My mistress and I trotted off on a mission to find this precious water. I scouted and sniffed ahead and followed a promising trail up a ledge of sand, past a feathered fugitive from the coq au vin (whom I later found out went by the name of Eddie) and in to a capacious kennel made out of everything you would find on the beach
Our spot of sand lay between the human habitations of Diembereng and Nikine. Humans would often pop in to our kennel camp as they were travelling between the habitations either on expeditions to fish for the creatures of the sea, to hunt for the beasts of the land, on their way to teach at a school of small humans, trying to run as fast as me (they call it jogging) or to search for treasure and fellow human bodies (so they could put them in a deep hole under a fine tree) tossed up on the beach after a storm
Diembereng was a vast human habitation known as a vast village. The vast village grew out of a grand old tree which I was sadly never able to honour with my cocked leg as it was continuously protected by the female humans of the village and their stalls bearing fruit from their earth. The village had seven different dens, each with their own Top Dog (called a chief). There was a place for naked humans to fight with each other (no biting or snarling allowed) called a wrestling arena, a male human whose touch healed aching bones, kennels which served the local aqua vitae known as palm wine and fields with many plants waving out of the earth all happily fed by ponds swarming with fish and frogs (which kept the snakes bellies full). A rather large colony of my long snouted friends, Mr Pigs, provided the refuse service for the village and also sacrificed their flesh for human consumption at important festivities including the regular Saturday night party and the funeral feast
Eddie trotted with us all the way down the long sandy beach with hurdles of prostrate trees (rudely torn out of the ground by the stormy sea) to Nikine where the teacher taught in the school for small humans. The small humans were learning everything in the finest Franbarquais even though they spoke the tongues of Wolof and Diola with their family and friends. The small humans slid up to the top of tall trees and cut down large brown hairy balls which gave us white water to refresh our tonges. A medium female human beckoned us in to her home for a feast of fish and rice. How beaming and embracing this Nikine was, all nestled in to the sands where the rippling waters of the River Casamance become one with the waves of the sea.
We finally became unstuck from our spot of sand on the day of my darling niece's birthday, when she was seven whole years old. Ziguinchor was the last place we rested our chins in before we made our way to Guinea Bissau. There we happened upon the sister of the In Loves and a couple of Dutchy male humans in an orange Land Rover, who had left Libya nearly a year ago and were heading back to their own flat lands.
Thank you for your readings
Love and licks
Max x x
PS Paw Notes to Photos
Bissap – dried hibiscus flowers which you can either use to make a jowl smacking cold drink called Bissap or a hot tea.
Diembereng Vegetables on a Useful Book – the female humans of Djembering can be found every day at their stalls bearing their garden wares radiating out around the biggest tree in the village. There was also a shop nearby which sold dolls, bags and non-flesh based animals made by a group of village women known as a Femmes Ensemble (a co-operative and all the dosh they make pays for their farming and homes). The Useful Book is Africa Overland, edited by Sian Pritchard-Jones and Bob Gibbons, Bradt 2010. This book has been to paw throughout our plannings and journeyings.
Dutch Oven Book – Beginner’s Guide to Dutch Oven Cooking, by Marla Rawlings, Hobble Creek Press 2012 - has important information about how to prepare your oven, cook with it and groom it
Foot Cleaner – I just lick my paws clean of sand when I get in to bed but my master and mistress find this rather hard to do in their roof tent. My master filled a bottle with water and put a very small hole in the lid to squirt a little fountain all over the foot and swish the sand away so you don’t take a beach to bed.
Thirstquenching Brew – the bubbles tickle my nose in an annoying fashion but they seem to reach those parts which other bubbles can’t reach in my mistress and master.
Precarious Pirogue - we watched a claw clenching Senegalese film all about a very precarious pirogue and its cargo (which included a survivor of the coq au vin) on our small screen which lights up, The Pirogue, directed by Moussa Toure, 2012. The film is in Wolof and Franbarquais but it does not matter at all if your flappy ears do not understand all the speakings.
Aline Sitoe Diatta - on a monument in the middle of a roundabout in Ziguinchor. She is a Sweet Casamance human heroine who was involved in the fight against French Top Dogs.