Journey Across Africa

Below you'll find stories of my two year experience as a Peace Corps Volunteer in the small West African country of The Gambia. After my service I traveled solo, with only a small backpack, across West Africa; reaching N'Djamena, Chad after two months. Visa problems for Libya and Civil unrest in the Darfur region of Western Sudan made Chad my last stop.

Peace Corps Service: Aug. 2003 - July 2005

Journey Across Africa: July 2005 - Sept. 2005

Name:
Location: Boston, MA, United States

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Well, this is Africa...

Day 33
Fri Aug 19
Tombouctu, Mali

At six AM I was up and waiting. By ten the car hadn't showed up and the driver said there was a problem. By ten thirty he pulled up witha different car and I hopped in. What I thought would be a drive out of town turned into a drive around town. For two hours. What were we doing? We'd drive down one street, put the car in reverse, drive in reverse back up it. We'd go into the desert, do a few circles, then head back into town. We'd head to the edge of town, towards the River, and then head back into the main center. We were looking for tourists to fill the car. Four in fact, French. They had already reserved the seats and we were looking for them. They hadn't come back from their camel ride yet.

We eventually tracked them down and I sat down to talk to them. I was called to the car and we got in and left - without the tourists. We headed back to our place for lunch. It was now 12:30.

"We leave at one o'clock, no problem." Mustapha said, "We have lunch first"

Lunch was served at 1:30

2:00 we can't leave because it's two o'clock prayer-call on Friday (the biggest prayer call of the week - similar to Sunday mornings for Christians)

3:30 We can't find the tourists

4:00 Yeah, we're not going today; but we find another car to take - no problem. But how about taking the boat?

He started at $100 and worked his way down to $40, each time I denied it saying I wanted the car. Money was tight and I couldn't afford the boat even if it was $40 (despite the car ride being $30). Besides, if I make it to Egypt taking a boat ride along the Nile is better then a boat ride along the Niger in my opinion.

Other then being in the car for those two hours driving around town I hadn't been out of the house since I didn't want to miss my ride out of the town. A day wasted. I had already paid the $12 for the two nights when they told me I had to pay more since I was staying another day. I argued that I didn't plan on it, and it was in fact, you who promised I would leave today. I got to stay the night for free.

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