15 September 2005

Riding the sareti fas!

Recounting events of August 25, 2005, one of my favourite days of training...

On our day off, we rented a horse cart and rode it from Saresamba to Soma, the nearest "big" town (14kms journey, 11kms as the crow flies). My host brother Assan drove, using the family horse, Pegasus (we named him on our previous venture a few weeks ago). Laye Njie (nee Craig N.), Aram Sinaan, Fatou Ngaalan and Yuusufa Touray (formerly Nancy, Sarah and Taylor) joined us for the trip. The extra two people (Aram and Fatou), plus the muddy conditions (we're in the middle of the rainy season), made for a slow journey.

In Soma we bought eggs, butter and flour, as we plan to bake some peanut butter cookies for our host families (this is our last week in Saresamba). On the way back home, our cart foundered in the mud, so we had to dismount and push it through. Laye brought along an MP3 player and speaksers, so we listened to 80's hits on both legs. A little while after the mud, Laye started shouting "Stop! Stop!" and after a few seconds I remembered the Wolof command ("Taxawal") and Assan reined in Pegasus.

Now we were all looking at Laye, and I for one thought that it was time for an emergency bathroom break (these are not uncommon). Instead, Laye pointed to the front, while frantically turning on his camera. We turned forward to see the remainder of a pack of baboons crossing the path. Once we started moving again, we saw a few stragglers pass through the bush. I saw about a dozen of them, but Laye reckoned there were perhaps 40 baboons.

By this time it was getting dark, making the bumps less predictable -- but none of the eggs broke! So we trotted along in fits and starts (Pegasus was getting tired) and, in the echo of the sunset (which shone orange, red, then purple through the clouds) and the haze of the moon, listened to "Carmina Burana" as we negotiated the route. It seemed quite fitting and portentous (there were lightning flashes in the distance), plus it reminded me of my friend Adrian, who was a voice major in college.

Little adventures like this spice up our days. While on the cart, I got to practice Wolof with Assan. He's getting married in the dry season, to Mena, a girl who lives in Senegal. In a week he's going to visit her family there. People tend to marry in the dry season, because crops have been harvested -- so people have lots of food, and some money from the sale of surplus crops. Few people marry in the rainy season (also known as the "hungry season") as food runs out, and harvest is a few months away. I also spoke Wolof in the market (many traders are Wolof). Great fun, really.


vikoviko said...

Chris hope you are doing well. Certainly not empty of amazing experiences and stories. Which you all the best, stay safe and keep your stories coming. All the best. Viko

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