Langue De Barbarie, Senegal, October 25, 2007

Trip Start Sep 19, 2007
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Trip End Jan 05, 2008


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Flag of Senegal  ,
Thursday, October 25, 2007

After Saint Louis we spent a day at Langue de Barbarie National Park, just to the town's south and at the mouth of the Senegal River, a concession to several eager bird-watchers in the tour group.  Langue de Barbarie is one of several preserved estuaries in Senegal along the major bird migration route on West Africa's Atlantic coast, although in late October we were there somewhat early to see most of the migratory species for which this is a winter range. 
After lazing away most of the day at the Zebra Bar, a pleasant campsite with a small bar and a tall lookout tower, we went for a late afternoon pirogue ride to a sand spit between the ocean and bay, a nesting ground for gulls, terns, and other seabirds which thoroughly fascinated the Three Wise Men (Ian, Blair, and Ed).  It was the crabs that fascinated me, though - thousands of freaky looking beasts that almost covered the ground and made it look like the surface of the sand was rolling when they all moved in unison.  Whereas they all scampered away from me quickly when I stood, I found if I lay completely still in the sand on my stomach in no time I'd have a deep personal experience with crabs walking past my nose and climbing over my legs and back.  Oooooh, quite ticklish!  Now this is the stuff great Lariam nightmares are made of. 
Our campground here was somewhat more secluded than many of the "campements" we stayed in around towns, campgrounds usually with a few motel rooms for rent surrounded for safety by walls topped with glass or barbed wire to keep out intruders, often also with a guard patrolling all night.  It seems all campements also have pets who must lead some of the richest lives of any creatures that inhabit the animal kingdom - dogs and cats and sometimes even turtles.  With a constant stream of fairly well-off animal-loving foreign visitors to bum food scraps from, both at the campement restaurants and when they are preparing their own camp meals, and the run of the places with river, marsh, and woods to catch goodies like rats, birds, lizards, and crabs, these animals live perfect lives balanced between indulgence and adventure.  This was particularly noticeable at Camp Ocean in Saint Louis and at Zebra Bar, where there were enough crabs to be caught to fee 101 Dalmatians and the dogs and cats were all unusually chubby. 
Although many people I know consider my excursions to far off parts of the world to be serious adventures, I am always intrigued by people I meet who live there lives far closer to the edge than I do.  I met and chatted with two such characters over beers one evening at the Zebra Bar.  Michael and Chad were two young British men who left normal jobs as an engineer and an accountant to spend a year traveling independently from the U.K. to Cape Town and then back to Cairo on motorcycles.  Or at least that was their plan; in Senegal they were still quite early into their journey.  "Hmmmm," I thought, "and I'm sitting watching Africa go by from the back of a truck.  I really need to be more adventurous," as I listened to their stories.
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