Jan 09 2013

Heading off the beaten track

Our trusty little guide book promoted Podor due to the restoration of its fort and nearby quay.  People we met at Zebrabar also suggested it was worth a visit – and our new 2nd battery needed a good long charge – so we set off.

Podor itself is a quaint little town – but the people are so very proud of their up-and-coming tourist town.  There are 2 hotels on the quay – both renovated warehouses – but neither was happy for us to park and flip open the tent.  However, a young chap hanging around directed us to La Terrasse which offered simple rooms and camping.  The restaurant (its primary business) was apparently very good too.

It didn’t look promising when we arrived – no real camping to speak of, and there didn’t seem to be anyone around.  But shortly, Kaz appeared, all smiles.  Of course he was keen for us to take a room – and proudly showed us his offering.  We were keen to camp and after some explaining about our maison with the chambre on the roof, he took down a section of his fence so that we could drive into the back of the property and park.  Of course, the whole extended family and anyone else around came to see as Viking Explorer flipped open the tent, and I showed them where my kitchen was.  Much head shaking, open mouths and laughing followed!

Kaz was an interesting man.  He spoke a little English – and was keen to practice – so I understood more of the conversation.  His one sister lives in Germany and is a professor of sociology.  His other sister lives next door, and works at a hotel south of Dakar.  In particular, he commented on the European style of marriage, where it is more of a partnership, than the Senegalese style (where I believe there is still an element of polygamy practiced).  He certainly seemed more worldly than either of us really expected, possibly partly due to the French satellite TV he was so proud of!

We wanted to see the fort and so headed out for a stroll.  In the late afternoon, the village slowly started coming to life!  Where previously the doors had been shut, and few people around, doors were flung open, students from the college and school emerged, a soccer game began, business resumed.

The fort itself was closed (helpfully with phone numbers written above the door if you wanted to go in).  We stopped a smartly dressed, very tall man to ask about the building opposite (which looked like it was a hotel, but also closed).  As it turns out, he was a musician who had performed at La Terrasse and knew Kaz very well.  He had also performed in St Louis, but wasn’t planning on anything that evening.  He decided to escort us back, and chatted to us, telling us about the town.   He even complemented Viking Explorer on his French.  Much smiles and laughter and Dembe delivered us back to Kaz.

We ate a delicious dinner at the restaurant before collapsing into bed … for one of the worst night’s sleep!  Aside from the mosquitos which seemed to have found a backdoor into the tent, the household and village just seemed to become more active as the night progressed.  It seemed that goats, dogs, cats and various villagers wandered casually into and out of the property throughout the night, and occasional big trucks rumbled past.

Eventually, to our disappointment, dawn broke and any chances of sleep evaporated.

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