Reflections on West Africa

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There is no place I have been, no place in the world like West Africa. The energy, beauty, poverty and insanity are unmatched and hard to get your hands around. The area of West Africa is vast and huge and can be a daunting place to visit let alone simply find on a map. It is hard to adequately and accurately describe what my month long epic journey around the wild west was like but I will try to give some highlights, lowlights and insights and it’s important to always remember that this is Africa and what appears to be simple, simply cannot be explained.

Some highlights:

Mali has the highest density of must sees including; Timbuktu and the sunset camel caravan tours around the ancient and mysterious city; Dogon Country in Mali cannot be missed as it is beautiful and the hikes are exciting and the views are spectacular and Djenne for the worlds largest mud mosque, a truly amazing sight.

Cape Verde Islands are a great place to island hop and explore individual islands and the landscapes are other worldly.

Guinea-Bissau and its capital Bissau is like no capital anywhere in the world, basically a glorified village with no electricity. It makes for interesting and nerve racking night time walks trying to find food or your hotel.

The beaches of Sierra Leone, located just a little outside of Freetown, these are the next big thing in West Africa as the beaches are stunning and the potential is huge.

The flat and gorgeous landscapes driving across the Sahel between Mali and Niger with Burkina Faso in between. With by far the best roads in West Africa, it’s a nice way to enjoy the views on the edge of the Sahara Desert.

Surviving the long drives in small sedans over horrible dirt roads from Guinea through Sierra Leone and onto Monrovia, Liberia where just getting out was a highlight.

The normalcy of Ghana and the temporary reprieve from the virtual insanity of West Africa.

And so many more I know I am forgetting…

Some lowlights:

There were a few, but then again to few to mention, except for Lagos, Nigeria which I won’t bother going into again, see my last post if you want to relive that episode.

Insights and Interesting Things:

A man trying to carry on a dead chicken wrapped in tin foil on a plane.

Trucks piled up 50 feet into the air with 6 guys sitting on top and 15 others hanging off the sides while the truck goes fast over bumpy dirt roads.

A guy keeping the trunk closed on a sedan by standing on the rear bumper bent over the trunk with his hands on the roof while the car speeds down at top speed.

Cops acting as criminals being commonly accepted behavior and in fact becoming part of my negotiating with drivers that they pay off corrupt cops and I have nothing to do with it.

Being locked in a border room while the officials try to shake us down and calmly directing him away from us and to the driver while making my escape without paying any bribes.

Cops being bribed with loaves of bread and asking for our phone numbers and emails because they wanted to be friends.

The cutest children in the world living in the worst poverty you can imagine.

Accepting a ride from two 22 year old diamond smugglers in Sierra Leone in their pimped out Navigator.

Patience, patience, patience

And so many more I cannot possibly recount everything but I can truly say that West Africa is as unique a place as you can be and once again, in Africa-what appears to be simple, simply cannot be explained.

Comments

  1. Sounds like an amazing journey

  2. sweeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeet

  3. Congratulations on making it through West Africa and thats a wonderful picture of Djenne. I have always wanted to visit there.

  4. Sure, West Africa is a picture of poverty and beauty at the same time. Imagine they have the most beautiful jungle and wild animals but they don’t have anything to eat and civilization is far ahead. Although Ghana is a bit upgrade of the normal African country.

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