Labe

We’re spending time here on the Internet–slow, but doable. We’ll probably leave day after tomorrow for Mali-ville, Guineau and then to Kedougou, Senegal. Mali-ville (really Mali, Senegal, but commonly called Mali-ville to differentiate it from the country, Mali) has no electricity, so Internet is unlikely. So we’ll be out of touch for about ten days. Phone may still receive SMS.

We’re enjoying the hot showers, good bed. Not enjoying the noise and motos. Hotel has only pizzas for dinner; we miss the local food of Doucki. Otherwise the hotel is great; has a nice patio and very good manager.

Some footnotes to Louisa’s Doucki posting: Price was a whooping $16 per day per person–food, lodging, and English speaking guide. As a reference the “better” hotels are relatively expensive here– about $25 per day including breakfast for two with dinner about $6; although cheaper in local restaurants. The video Louisa alluded to should be posted on YouTube in a few months. Hassan Bah speaks excellent English which made the stay much easier too. Temperature was about 90F during the day and low 70s at night. Humidity moderate.

The scenery was great–cliffs, waterfalls, slot canyons, villages, fields, jungle. Detail is low here: http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&hl=fr&geocode=&time=&date=&ttype=&q=10.997733,+-12.599667&ie=UTF8&ll=10.997732,-12.599688&spn=0.124359,0.160675&t=h&z=13&om=1
We noticed the all too usual women and children only working in the fields around Doucki. Then we realized that there weren’t many men between 15 and 50 in the village and surroundings. We found that they were all away in other countries working–Freetown and Dakar (many of the Peul lived in Sierra Leone when driven out by Sekou Toure starting in 1976). We asked about the new houses being built–financed with remittances. The local region just can’t support the people. Bah said the key needs were water (meaning foot pump wells, instead of hand drawn), education, and health. He had one of the few solar panels to provide light for his house and charge the cell phones. Cell phones seem to be the first major purchase.

Labe has working age men; but many hanging out it seems, but there must be some work. We were surprised to see how much building is going on in Labe, several multi-story buildings downtown. And seemingly many more motos–many private and as taxis.

One unusual observation at the “upmarket” restaurant last night. Two separate couples came in and only the men ate. One women had a few bites of her companions meal. Both women looked well fed and dressed by local standards.

Phone note: Sotelgui has the best rural coverage, but costs a bit more. Probably not more than $10 for a SIM card and some minutes. Areeba was $6.

In our hotel the visitors are either USAID or NGOs. USAID held a multi-country forestry meeting here this week and we met a couple of the US personnel.

In Dalaba we met four tourists from Montana, one solo Alaskan, and a Brit. But tourists are few are far between. Sad because the scenery is great, the people nice; although the amenities can be basic. Yesterday we looked up immigration here because we weren’t sure we could get our passports stamped when we left which can cause problems when we arrive in Senegal. Expected some hassle. None, friendly, helpful. Passports stamped. No bribes–not even hinted at.

Later, Greg

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