Let’s start with Iced Tea. Yesterday afternoon, I sat behind Lydia on her motorbike as we went over to the site of his home. Four sweating Senegalese men (including my hero) were setting concrete blocks in place and slathering on the mortar. And it was hot. Three walls were climbing and Iced Tea was smiling. Home ownership is a blessing.
My young friend in Canada has helped build those walls with his gift and I will join him in contributing. So richly deserved.
Late in the day, a friend named Ja Ja took Jo, Lore, Jean, Sabrine and me on his little boat. We headed out on the river to the mangroves, trees that grow in the water. We navigated narrow passages and saw oysters clinging from the roots. And then a dead end … roots hanging down in a semi-circular wall of silence. Truly a place to meditate.
Then it was back out on the open water, skimming across the surface and waving “Bonjour!” to folks in other boats. We were heading towards an island where Jo says people have lived for millions (!) of years, up until about a hundred years ago. For all those eternities, the people ate shellfish, and dropped the shells on the ground. Now there is a long and tall hill, about 100 feet high, composed entirely of shells. Grasses and bushes have grown over the remains of many centuries. The biabab trees stand way above the surface of the land. I crawled inside one and looked out at my friends. It was a sacred space.
As the sun declined, we were back on the boat, destined for a tiny island in the river. And then the birds began to gather on the branches – huge white cranes, large black ones and pelicans. For a half hour, we saw them soar in from all directions, over the low trees. Many hundreds of flying beings were settling down for the night. And we puny human beings got to watch, mostly in silence. Reverence.
There’s much more to come but soon we’ll be walking together to the next village. À bientot!