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

Location: Boston, MA, United States

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

You learn from your mistakes.

Day 35
Sun Aug 21
Start: Outside Tombouctu, Mali
End: Sevare, Mali

It's a good thing that Sunday is my weekly Malaria pill day for I definitely needed a booster after sleeping without a net next to the Niger River. Even the locals had nets strung up in poles and sticks. I was the only one without one, and when I tried to get into one (after asking and thinking they said yes) it ended up I was taking the childrens bed so I was asked the leave.

You have to take the pill with food, which I learned the hard way a few months back. There was a Canadian volunteer who lived a few blocks away from me named Sara McKeon. She had first visited The Gambia the same time I did, but we never crossed paths. She went back to Canada, finished her last year of school, took a few months off and then headed back to The Gambia again - I was still there. She was impressed I knew where her Province of Alberta was, and knew the capital of Canada was not Toronto. (Ottawa, easily remembered from my High School's name). She just finished a trip to Timbouctu and we agreed to meet at "Palais de Chocolat" for breakfast at eight on Sunday for me to get the details of the trip.

I had met the owner of Palais just a few days earlier when I accidently had dinner with him at one of the most expensive restaurants in town. The two French people who lived in my compound were treating me to dinner and were having it with a few friends - the owner of Palais included. His name is Jihad, the same word the news protrays as the Islamic 'Holy War'. What a name? And he's half-French, so whenever he goes back to France he has a whole security concerns because people at the airport see the word Jihad and freak out.

Sunday morning I got up and took my malaria pill thinking I can time this right and have breakfast to cover it in time. By 7:45 I'm feeling queazy so I order something light just to hold me over until breakfast. By 8:00 I'm throwing up over the balcony of the restaurant as Sara's rounding the corner and Jihad's yelling at his staff to get me water and to cover the vomit up with sand.

I never did use any of her information I collected that day.

Back near the River I found some fried pieces of dough to eat as breakfast to take the pill with. I found a car that was willing to take me for $30 - so I lost my $10 deposit a few days back. Even though we crossed on the second ferry of the morning, each crossing taking about an hour total, we had passed every car that came before us within two hours of getting to the other side. We were going fast! We even stopped to help a truck out of a ditch for ten minutes and still caught up to everyone.

I reached Sevare and the Peace Corps house and just relaxed on the couch, watching Law and Order episodes on tape for a few hours.

Week 5 Budget:
Spent $150 this week, for an average of $21/day for the week and $19/day average for the trip. I had $24 on me to last until I can get to a bank in the Capital of Burkina Faso.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mike!! Wow, what a blog! (this from being read two years later).

I was googling myself for shits and giggles and came across my name in your blog.

I miss Africa immensely, so your stories bring it all back.

If you get this, look me up on facebook!

- sara m

12/26/2007 07:37:00 AM  

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