Sunday, 26 June 2011

Voodoo Market

        I met Stephan, the Canadian truck importer, while he was "waiting for his ship to come in."  We decided to venture out and see what was at the Voodoo Market. We drove up to a fenced off area about a 1/2 block square, which is unusual for West Africa's open markets. We drove in and were assured we were at the right place.  Immediately, we were greeted by Joseph, who insisted upon a fee for guiding us, and just as quickly Stephan decided he has already seen enough. He jumped back into his car after assuring me he would park closeby and watch for me to meet up when I had had enough. This was no Pike Place Market like Seattle's market. With high humidity and heat it sure didn't smell like anything I had ever been to before. But I guess parking out on the street with its open sewers and seeing men and women regulary use them right out in the open was a better choice for Stephan than the market itself.

      With one quick look around, I knew I would be just fine. How could I not be? I was at a Voodoo Market! It's a "pharmacy" for natural healers to stock up on supplies. When our western medicine fails to work, a healer prescribes a mixture of bones to be burnt to a powder and then rubbed over three cuts made into the flesh.  I assured Joseph that I was feeling just fine, hadn't felt so good in a long time! I said I was only there as a tourist, no need to start a fire burning parts for ashes. After taking some pictures, I found Stephan and we decided on street food - chicken and beers.

Sunday, 12 June 2011


Yee bay roh (Good Morning)
Making it to Lome Togo a week ago, this was my to do list:  hit the Voodoo market, make motorcycle repairs & service, and wait for the carnet ( a passport, but for the motorcycle) to come by courier from Ottawa.
The local bike shop did an oil change, recommended a can of fork oil for seals that leak, & new rear tire  - second one since March 4th.
 OOPS .. Driving his scooter with one hand and the other hand  holding onto my wheel to go have the old tire swapped out for the new one, the kid looses a bushing off the wheel. The missing bushing keeps vital metal parts from rubbing together that are not ment to be.  I figured out what happened after a few miles of riding and my ABS light went on. Rear brake pads are now shot as well as the ABS sensor. I have a bushing again, but am left to my own resources to deal with ABS / rear brakes.
  July 10th  I will continue on from Accra, Ghana with a fellow rider from Slovenia. We will spend a few days with 15 million other people in Lagos, Nigeria.  There I hope to get a visa for Cameroon and head east (see map) before taking an extended break again in East Africa.
When taking back roads, I sheltered at a village school to get out of the rain and that helped save the day. The evening gave me opportunity to learn a bit of the local language.
  Other languages so far include: Goonisee, Eve, Aeposso, Kotokoli, Amoussa, Kabye, Bambara, & Arabic. ( bad spelling I know, its my Saskatchewan education. lol)
These trips through some of the more remote areas can start with meeting a guy saying: " hey white man" and my reply : "yee bay roh"  usually ending a few minutes or days later with : goodby my friend !

I am staying next door to the : International Christian school of Lome.
Listening to children singing in choir often throughout the day !!

Thursday, 9 June 2011

Mali's Music and Mines

     My ITunes now has enough African music loaded to keep any fading memories alive  for as long as I have ears.  Grammy award winner Toumani Diabate was a highlight, but more so was making many new friends in Mali. Locals are always very interested, and happy to have tourists around, making chance meetings sometimes difficult to end.

     Ibrahim Diabate was one of those chance meetings at the Diplomate in Bamako while listening to Toumani. We soon became friends and a few days later went to see his village, "Kela." The lack of running water or power didn't really mater. The women had cooked meals waiting, buckets of water filled to shower with, and a cooler with ice & beer nearby.   At night the village gathered and put on a traditional concert. During the day we went to the river for a swim, or visited his friends at the nearby gold mines.
The men were busy building a bar, now that huts for visitors have been completed. Next is a roof over a holding tank to collect rain water instead of pulling it up from the well.
        I learned that swiming in the Niger river is probably NOT the smartest thing to do,after loosing a few pounds to some virus. The gold mining as you see in pictures is not the big money operation of the Chinese or Canadians, but hundreds of families work together to make a few dollars in tough conditions.

Young men dig holes 200 feet or more in the ground, lower small pails into the shaft and drag them up. Young girls beat the pail of dirt with wooden posts so the older women can pan for any gold. Others work to keep shafts from filling with water, or from caving in.
      This is about 10 miles from the Guinea border.

Niger River, not a great place to swim