The past couple of months have seemed a little like a parallel world, or indeed it has seems like we have flitted through a number of such isolated realms. From the cosmopolitan beaches of Las Palmas with languid white tourists idling on the beach to the dusty dessert of Dakhla where we trod through thick dust midst the locals kneeling in prayer on the cracked pavement. Here in Senegal we have slipped between the laid back enclave of ex-pats at the yacht club on Hann beach into the dense jungle of the Hann zoological Park where the rich locals promenade in designer western clothes, and then into crumbling resort hotels made for the droves of tourist that never quite made it (last night we literally dined in the lion’s jaws). Then again into the bustling metropolis where the touts and vendors accost you at every corner with such violence that you end up jumping into the first cab that comes along clutching your back pocket to protect your wallet!
Since I lost my bank cards in Morocco I have also been living in a strangely cashless society where a loan from Leonie marks my entire fortune. Luckily a few pounds in your pocket and a smile gets you a long way in Western Africa, but my empty pockets has driven one fact home: our collective kitty is running very low! Thus the real world has come crashing in to disturb us at odd moments as we wander amidst the throngs and dine on ambiguous meat sandwiches at the roadside stalls ….
And as our expenses begin to run away on us we have begun to consider more mainstream approaches to managing our finances … well mainstream may be a little too far. After a few days of weighing up the pros and cons I have decided to accept another season working as a tourist guide/naturalist showing people the spectacular wildlife of the Arctic. This has a couple of big benefits (including some much needed cash) including the chance of getting back into the icy elements that have ruled my life for the past decade, and also a respite from the relentless tropical heat of West Africa!
Meanwhile the plan is to leave Leonie stranded in the yacht in The Gambia. Yes … I hear the cat calls and boos and the cries of “you insensitive lout”. But then again Leonie has her own adventure ahead …
We have arranged to leave the yacht at an isolated anchorage near an abandoned tourist venture dubbed “Lamin Lodge”. After talking to various local yachties we have discovered that this little piece of paradise is surrounded by wilderness and is the home of a small community of wandering yachties that all look after each other. Granted water has to be ordered via donkey cart from the local well but all in all it seems a very idyllic place to spend a couple of months. It will also give Leonie a chance to catch up on some of the science work that I dragged her from when we set sail. So come June we will both be stepping a little more into the real world, though I guess we are certainly keeping up our present spirit of adventure.
But for now … we have resupplied the ship and repaired various broken bits of equipment and are prepared to set sail. Next stop .. The Gambia.