Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Langue de Barbarie

Saint Louis is protected from the Atlantic by the Langue de Barbarie, a long sand bank that extends from Mauritania along the coast of Senegal. The Langue is formed by the sediment from the Senegal river and allows the wetlands to flourish and supports a huge bird population and also provides freshwater for wells and agriculture. Unfortunately the Langue de Barbarie also causes flooding in the rainy season as the high river water has difficulty flowing to the sea as there is no direct route. In 2003 someone had the bright idea to cut a channel through the Langue in order to allow the water to escape and try to avoid flooding. Initially the channel was only 3 meters wide, but quickly expanded to over a kilometer wide.

Fishermen are happy because they now have a shortcut to get to the ocean instead of having to travel the entire length of the Langue. But now some of the consequences predicted by the environmentalists and scientists are starting to come true- the wells are becoming salty and agriculture is decreasing as the soil is becoming more salty as well. The wetlands are decreasing as well but the worst part is that the giant hole is starting to move south, threatening the expensive resorts located at the end of the Langue of the Barbarie. Scientist say that holes in the Langue are a natural phenomenon that take place every 50 years of so and they have previously measured the rate of speed of the hole as it moves south so they say this was to be expected (and part of their warning not to open the channel in the Langue). As this is a man-made hole this time they are glad to see that as the hole moves south the river is depositing new material at the north end of the hole.

More info about the Langue de Barbarie
-Wikipedia (see the maps): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Langue_de_Barbarie
-START: http://start.org/blog/disproportional-impacts-of-climate-change-story-of-doune-baba-dieye.html
-Journal Article on Environmental Monitoring of the Langue de Barbarie Sand Spit and the Senegal River Estuary http://www.teledetection.net/upload/TELEDETECTION/pdf/20080404171636.pdf

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Dakar Swell

Heavy overhead waves on the west coast of Dakar today.  My friend "Happy" took me and another buddy out to Club Med for some great surf.  Club Med is usually a meter higher than the other breaks on the left side and accessed by a long paddle or 300 meter stumble along slick rocks on the edge of the water. 
Happy taking the drop

We ended up surfing a couple breaks near the westernmost point in Africa while Happy's girlfriend took a couple pictures from the rocks.  Happy is a good surfer and works at a local surf camp but is willing to take people around the area to find good surf breaks.  He said he can guarantee he can get you barreled (i'm still working on that).
French Dude

There were a couple solid French expats in the water too that were getting incredible rides on long rights.
French Dude trying to get covered up

Unfortunately i got caught inside by an overhead set and slammed on the rocks and had to bail when I saw my right foot was bleeding heavily.  Thankfully I didn't see any urchins. 
Happy taking it left by the Cannon

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Missing the Dakar Riots

Saint Louis, Senegal
24-25 June 2011

Yesterday morning my friends who were visiting from the States and I departed Dakarjust before the riots started. We had planned to visit Lompoul and Saint Louis and had reservations at the tent camp out in the small patch of desert by the sea in Lompoul. The day before riot police had taken up positions around key government buildings and when we left at 7am the National Assembly had been barricaded and riot police were in position at key intersections throughout the city, even into Rufisque. Things were still calm and it seemed like it would be a normal day but before we arrived in Thies I got a phone call from a friend warning me to stay out of the downtown area as over 10,000 protesters had blocked off the area and were throwing rocks at cars and burning tires. As an American living in Senegal I subscribe to the US Embassy Warden systems (sign up through the Embassy webpage) so I get emails about demonstrations and started getting text messages as the rioters moved about town.

In Theis we arrived in town as several hundred protesters reached the large traffic circle at the center of town. They seemed to be marching peacefully and were escorted by police. Other police with riot shields and gear stood at the corners but nobody was fighting. At lunch our waiter became upset when I commented on how peaceful the march was and he wanted me to know that he was angry too and everybody needed to know that things had to change.

After leaving Theis we headed north to Kebemer and turned left at the horse statue and drove out to Lompoul village. There we met our guide who led us into a patch of orange desert surrounded by eucalyptus trees where we rode camels and slept in tents among the sandy dunes. Unfortunately there were no bed nets in the tents and we we're swarmed by Mosquitos all night long.

The next morning after a light breakfast we powered our way out of the sand dunes back to the road and drove down to Lompul by the sea and checked out the fish drying stations. Then we turned around and drove the rest of the way to Saint Louis and checked into our hotel. Later that afternoon we hired a horse buggy and guide who drove us around the island and fishing village on the Langue de Barberie. All the kids were out swimming in the green river and catching small fish by hand lines. We didn't see many tourists around and the vendors were more aggressive than normal and prices for the trinkets seemed higher than usual. My friends enjoyed walking around but by the end of the day we were all burned out by all the kids who constantly thronged us with their hands out demanding a "cadeau" (gift) or "argent" (money).

Saturday morning when we got up and loaded our bags into the Landcruiser a mob of kids was waiting for us and banged on the windows of the restaurant while we ate breakfast. On the way off the island we stopped at the Aeropostal Museum and for 1,500 CFA each we got to read old poster boards about how airmail traffic used to be routed from South America across the Atlantic to Saint Louis, then north over the desert to France. The highlight of the museum was a couple old model airplanes under foggy plastic domes.

The ride back to Dakar was pretty easy and the weather was cooler due to some rain that fell during the night. Many of the streets in Theis were flooded and the car washers were disappointed that they couldn't was cars in the light sprinkles that fell in the afternoon. We did make another stop on the way home just north of Theis to buy some handwoven baskets. I highly recommend checking out the roadside basket and pottery vendors just north of Theis on the road to Saint Louis. The prices for the baskets were 80% lower than in Dakar and the people were very glad to see us. My friends and I each spent about 20,000 CFA and loaded up the back of the Landcruiser with all sizes and colors of baskets.

Back in Dakar things seemed almost normal with a few more police in riot fewer hanging out in the Place d'Independence, Presidential Palace, and the Ministry of Interior. The only real damage I could see in my quick drive the area was the green metal fence between the Cathedral and the Catholic School was bent down to the ground. The only windows smashed just happened to be the ones at the entry to my apartment. The guard told me that a mob had come down the street and gathered in front of the building and was throwing stones and trying to get in the building, but eventually were driven away or moved on to another area. I guess I should be glad I was out of town.

17" vs 16"

Dakar, Senegal
20 June 2011

While I was in South Africa some friends had come to visit and borrowed my Landcruiser to drive around and had driven out to Kedagou (where they blew a tire on the bush trails near the border with Guinea), Touba, and down to Banjul in the Gambia. When I got back we tried to find a replacement tire for the truck since the tire was ruined with a sidewall blowout, but it turns out that my Landcruiser was a custom special ordered model. The 17inch rims are unusual for Senegal and even the Toyota dealer did not have them in stock and couldn't order replacement tires. At his suggestion we tried to throw some 16inch wheels on the truck but the rims wouldn't fit the oversized brake calipers. Finally we were able to to find a used replacement tire through a friend of a worker at a tire dealer who had a small shop next to the Grand Mosque for 40,000 CFA (we were able to negotiate the price down from 75,000 CFA). The tire had a couple plugs in it but the patches looked good, so at least I can use this as a spare until I can figure out how to get a replacement tire from the states.

The moral of the story is if you are gonna bring a truck to Africa make sure you can not only get spare parts and have mechanics that know how to work on try truck, but that common things like tires are available. If not, bring the tires with you.

Walking in Cape Town

Cape Town, South Africa
19 June 2011

When I woke up it was pouring rain outside. My guide yesterday said we had been fortunate with the great weather yesterday as the day before it had rained all day and Sunday was expected to rain again. I checked out of my hotel early and caught a cab across town to church In Mowbray but got stuck there. Perhaps because it was Fathers Day or just a Sunday morning there were no taxis to be seen anywhere. So after a quick egg McMuffin at McDonalds (tasted great! My only McDonalds experience in Africa) I started walking back to Cape Town. I walked for two hours though all kinds of neighborhoods and shopping areas in a light drizzle. Nobody messed with me and it was kinda like walking through worn out or depressed downtown areas in small town America. I passed a couple mega-Churches where singing and preaching could be heard from blocks away but it seemed like nobody cared that I was just walking through.

Eventually I made it to downtown Cape Town and the European-styled palace with large monuments out front, bus station, huge shopping malls, and sky scrapers. The wet city streets were abandoned and even the mall was closed so I was surprised when I arrived at the V&A Waterfront and found all the people. The shopping center at V&A was packed with tons of locals and tourists, who were mostly white. There are tons of great bars and restaurants at the waterfront and boats offering tours of the port and area. However, the ferry to Robben Island was closed for the day due to high seas and the people who had tickets were out of luck. I ended up eating lunch at a local restaurant and checking at the shops and displays at the waterfront before heading to the airport later that afternoon. From there I flew through to Johannesburg back to Dakar arriving at 6am the next morning. Five days is not enough time to see South Africa, and I didn't get a chance to surf with my busy schedule and the bad weather. I will have to come back later.

Cape Point

Cape Town, South Africa
18 June 2011

I took the 8am flight from Johannesburg and two hours later arrived in Cape Town on the coast. The shuttle to take me to the hotel didn't show up so I hired a cab driver to take me to the V&A waterfront where I would be staying. Turns out the driver was also a tour guide and he offered to take me around for the day. My priority for this trip was to see Robben Island, but the ferry to the Island was completely sold out and there was a line of people standing by to see if they could steal any of the "no show" slots. Turns out that none of the standby passengers made it to the island that day.

It was a beautiful day, the sun was shining, the sky was blue with a light cool breeze. I had to wear a jacket as we headed up to the top of table mountain by cable car. The car ride both ways cost R180 but some choose the two hour hike to the top instead or the rappel (abseiling) and hike down. The cable car was cool because it completed one full rotation on the descent or ascent to the top, giving all passengers a great view of the mountain and cape. On top the winds were stronger and it was a little cooler but the views were amazing. There is also an extensive trail system on natural granite paths lines by small bushes and reeds that extend to both ends of the plateau and down to the ocean below. On the way down we saw a group of climbers scaling a multi-pitch route up granite cliffs.

Our next stop was Cape Point, the southern tip of the African continent and along the route we stopped at several scenic overlooks and small white towns. We did stop in one black township and drove around. Most of the shacks were nicer than the villages in the rest of the parts of Africa I have visited as they had solid walls, roof, doors, and floor, electricity, and water. People weren't cooking in the street over charcoal stoves and I didn't see any public bathrooms. Most of the areas were pretty clean. In the Cape Town region is seemed that the shantytowns were nicer than even in Johannesburg where the "Mandela Towns" were crammed together in fields outside of the city.

We also stopped at an Ostrich Farm on the way to Cape Point and a national park but didn't see many animals besides ostriches despite the many signs to watch for Orangutans or Urdu. The parking lot at Cape Point was jammed with buses and tourists climbed over rocks and fought for pictures behind a sign in English and Afrikaans that declared this to be the end of the world (or southern point of the continent). The water was a cool blue color but shifted violently and the oceans collided with currents pushing against each other. There were some good size waves but nothing was surfable. I was surprised to find that the water was warm and happy to see that it was clean and free of the garbage that litters so many of the African beaches.

On the way back we stopped in a small town and visited a Penguin colony where several young chicks were molting. The flightless birds just waddled around or sat and were patient with the 30 or so tourists that swarmed around them and zoomed their telephoto lenses into their dens. There was no separation between the people and the penguins and it was cool to have them all around me. Our next stop was a small fishing town where we got fish and chips on the wharf at a local bar frequented by whites, coloreds, and blacks. The food was outstanding and the people were cool with the waitress telling me she saw me on "Ricki Lake" and coloreds and whites sharing their apartheid experiences growing up in the area. They laughed together as they told some funny stories and repeated several times that as kids they played together and they thought Apartheid was a weird exterior thing forced on them by the state and enforced by police but didn't really affect the spirit or way of life of the locals.

Just before going over the hill back to the hotel we stopped at the shark lookout above an awesome break that had long lines of chest-high waves. They looked for for dark shadows under the water with polarized binoculars. The lady on duty said the last shark spotting was in March but in the past many surfers had been eaten there. In the end the full day private guided tour cost me R1200, way less than what the hotels and tour agencies prices.

Friday, June 24, 2011

SA Day 3

Pretoria, SA
17 June 2011

I spent much of the day wandering around Pretoria, amazed at how green and clean it was. The government buildings and embassies were nice, and I saw the most white people that I had seen in South Africa at the Bulls Rugby Stadium where I ate lunch. The restaurant looks over the practice pitch where we saw several players jogging around. Everybody was excited because the following day was the traditional rivalry/grudge match against the Sharks. Tickets sold out weeks ago and everyone I talked too said it should be a good match, but of course the Bulls would be victorious. Fortunately the night before Invictus was on tv so I was up on my rugby. I "get" rugby and have a lot of respect for the players but Cricket is still a total mystery to me.

Youth Day

Johannesburg, South Africa
16 June 2011

June 16th is Youth Day, a South African national holiday to remember the young South Africans who took to the streets in 1976 to protest new educational requirements. A recent law required some levels of studies to be completed only in Afrikaans and the teachers and students were not prepared to do it. Students organized a march to the local stadium from all the schools in the Soweto area and enroute they were met by the police who opened fire. One of the first killed was Hector Pieterson who is now honored by a museum located near where he fell. The student march and violent response by the police set off years of bloody resistance that contributed to the fall of Apartheid.

I was fortunate to be in Johannesburg for this holiday and arranged for a local tour guide to take me around to several of the significant sites. We started at the Apartheid Museum where I was randomly selected to tour the museum as a Colored Non-White and entered a display that discussed the classification system that separated the population as White, Colored, and Black and attributed certain rights, privileges, and restrictions to each group. The museum then exposes the brutality of the Apartheid system with personal accounts, historical documentation, movies, newspapers, photographs, signs and whatnot that were used to separate the people. Whites were treated the best and had all rights and privileges, colors (usually of Asian or Indian descent), had some privileges but were still treated as a subclass, and the blacks (95% of the population) were severely restricted and had few rights. Those who protested were threatened, beaten, killed, or imprisoned. A large part of the museum was dedicated to political prisoners and anti-Apartheid leaders with Nelson Mandela featured prominently. The films of the white police clashing with protesters, shooting and beating them were difficult to watch. It's hard to believe that all this took place during my life and even while I was in college in the US blacks in South Africa were still being violently oppressed and beaten by the Apartheid regime. What's even more incredible to me is that the US Government supported the Government of South Africa and considered Nelson Mandela as a terrorists (was on our No-Fly list). No wonder why South Africans are suspicious of Americans and have a different understanding of "terrorism" as it was only through terrorism or acts of terror against the government in the struggle against Apartheid that brought the former government to negotiate with the people and release political prisoners.

The next stop on my tour was the Mandela House in Soweto, which is now a swank neighborhood full of expensive BMWs and Mini Coopers. One the corner, near the top of the hill is a small red brick house where Nelson Mandela lived with his family. There isn't much to the site, but it was packed with locals and school children when I visited. Some pieces of original furniture are on display along with many photographs and quotes on the walls. It was interesting to see the site described in his autobiography, "Long Walk to Freedom."

A couple blocks away is the Hector Pieterson museum where the current President of South Africa laid a wreath earlier in the day the dedication of a new monument to celebrate Youth Day. Again the museum was packed with hundreds of school children and adults wearing their old school ties and colors remembering or learning about the student uprising. The stories of people who were a part of the march are posted on the walls along with photographs of the march and ensuing violence at the hands of the police. This wasn't something in the distant past for the people walking through the museum, but still recent events that most of the population had lived through. I wonder how long it will take for these wounds to not be so painful.

At the end of the long day visiting museums and touring the city we stopped at a roadside Braii and grilled our dinner. At the Braii you select your meat then throw it on the outside grill with 20 or so other people sharing strands of wire to flip the meat. Once the meat was done my black tour-guide and I sat down at the nearby picnic table and discussed the day, his experiences during the protests, and what it all meant. We also talked about my other travels in Africa and my tour-guide was surprised to learn that the rest of the continent was different. He had never left his country and only compared himself to the US, Europe, or Australia as those were the only places he had seen on TV. He thought his country was bad with corruption and unemployment but was amazed when I mentioned Chad or the electricity problems in Senegal.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Cold South Africa

Pretoria, South Africa
15 June 2011

Driving in South Africa is crazy, especially at night in a manual transmission rental car on the wrong side of the road after a long flight from Dakar. At least I was smart enough to rent a GPS so I only took a few detours to get to my hotel in Pretoria. I wasn't prepared for how cold it is here, but the lunar eclipse was still pretty cool. Although the night was clear the moon looked like it was covered by a brownish-purply cloud.

I just gotta keep reminding myself to stay on the left side of the road. Only had to swerve twice to get back on the left side of the road so far. Usually my loyal traveling companion, aka hoyawolf, from Tanzania does all the driving in the former British colonies. Lucky for him he is on the way back to the states for vacation.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Book Review: Peace Enforcers







PEACE ENFORCERS: The EU Intervention in Chad, Dan Harvey, Book Republic, 2010, 199 pages, $5.99 (Available on Kindle).
In October 2007 the European Union (EUFOR) began planning its military deployment to Chad and the Central African Republic under a UN Mandate (Security Council Resolution 1778 of 25 September 2007) and eventually evolved into the short-lived MINURCAT United Nations Task Force in 2009.  The mandate of the force was to “take all necessary measures, within its capabilities and its area of operation in eastern Chad and north-eastern Central African Republic” to protect civilians, UN personnel, and humanitarian assistance.  Lt General Patrick Nash of the Irish Defence Force commanded the 4,300 troops assigned to the mission who came from 26 countries.  The author of this book was a Soldier in the Irish Defence Forces and deployed to Chad as part of EUFOR.
The book is organized in a straightforward fashion along the lines of the military operation: Planning (15 October 2007 to 28 January 2008), Deployment (29 January to 15 March 2008), Execution (15 March 2008 to 14 March 2009), and Handover and Recovery (15 March to 15 May 2009).  The author begins his description of the military operation by describing the humanitarian crisis in Darfur and Sudan that provided the motivation for UN Mandate as well as the political rivalries between Chad and Sudan.  Both Chad and Sudan had a history of providing arms and support to the rebel groups that were trying to overthrow their rival government.  Janjaweed Arab militiamen commissioned by the Sudanese government terrorized the Darfur region of Sudan with their scorched-earth campaign of burning African villages and killing all the residents in a forced resettlement program to relocate or exterminate the local population.  Many Darfurians resettled in eastern Chad and launched rebel attacks against the Sudanese government.  In return the Sudanese government funded Chadian rebels in their attacks on N’Djamena that reached the capital and nearly toppled President Déby. 
French forces codenamed “Epervier” (Sparrow Hawk) based in their former colony of Chad provided the bulk of the forces for EUFOR and unfortunately were the only EUFOR casualties of the operation. During the yearlong Execution Phase EUFOR troops defended refugee camps, rescued humanitarian aid organizations, and were attacked on numerous occasions.  The author highlights separate incidents where Irish, Dutch, Austrian, and Russian forces came under fire or participated in operations.  One year after achieving Operational Capability EUFOR was replaced by MINURCAT and many of the EUFOR donor countries volunteered to remain and continue the mission.  One year later MINURCAT was disbanded at the request of Chad and Sudan, who had signed a peace accord and established a joint border force to patrol and pacify the region.
Peace Enforcers offers interesting insight into the Chadian wars with rebel forces and modern light combat in the African desert.  Several of the rebel battles are described in the book along with how helicopter gunships were decisive in the destruction of rebel forces.  Dan Harvey’s description of the entire EUFOR operation from UN Mandate thru peacekeeping operations to handover to MINURCAT is illustrative of the international process that affects international coalition operations.   Another good book that describes the process is LtGeneral (retired) Roméo Dallaire’s Shake Hands with the Devil, which describes the bureaucracy and politics that affected and limited his command of the UN Forces in Rwanda during the genocide.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Cameroon-Senegal Match

Yaounde, Cameroon

Two months ago I watched Senegal narrowly defeat Cameroon in the CAF Futebol match in Dakar at the very last minute.  Neither team played very well with very sloppy passes and the star of the Cameroonian team, Samuel Eto'o, did absolutely nothing.  As a sheer matter of coincidence we ended up in Yaounde the same weekend as the rematch where Cameroon had to win or risk elimination from the CAF.  By a miracle a friend was given 5 VIP tickets by Samuel Eto'o and he passed the other four onto me and my traveling companions.

VIP Seats
Back in Dakar I had to take a taxi to about a km from the stadium, walk the rest of the way, stand in line, and fight security to get in and got one of the nice concrete bench seats.  In Yaounde we got the VIP treatment with our golden tickets where we were able to drive right up to the stadium and had special reserved parking.  We had nice seats with backs and people brought us drinks and commemorative shirts.  After the match the police opened a path for our vehicle and we quickly moved out of traffic back into the city (in Dakar it took us two hours to leave the stadium parking lot).

The match was one-sided with Senegal playing not to lose the entire match while Eto'o and crew took shot after shot.  Fortunately for Senegal, the Lions of Terranga, the outstanding guardian never let anything in and made a series of amazing saves.  The referees did their best to help the Cameroonians, the Indomitable Lions, but Eto'o could never put the ball in the net, even hitting the crossbar on a penalty.  By the end of the match the Senegalese coach was ejected and Senegal was playing without two players and Cameroon still could not score.  At the end after the air went out of the crowd as the head referee blew his whistle three times to end the match.  Cameroon did everything it could but Senegal somehow remained undefeated.
video

The crowd was depressed and walked quietly with their heads down as they left the stadium and it seemed the Senegalese were smart enough to not celebrate too loudly their victory.  Later I heard that a small riot broke out near the stadium and a hotel where westerners and Senegalese visitors stayed and had to be rescued by the Police.

The next morning I caught my flight back to Senegal.  I enjoyed my time in Cameroon and hope to go back some day to catch more waves, climb Mt Cameroon, and explore the rest of the country.  Five days is not enough time experience Cameroon.

Cool, Green Cameroon

Yaounde, Cameroon

After spending10 days in Chad I really appreciated the cool green of Cameroon.  It was great to surf and hang out on the beach in Limbe and in Douala on the coast where the jungle stretched to the edge of the sea.  The frequent rains and heavy clouds kept the temperatures down on the drive back to Yaounde and we arrived back in town a couple tense hours after dark.  Tense hours because driving on the country roads in Cameroon after dark is suicidal.  Vehicles just stop in the road and leave no lights or warning markers.  Motorcyclists have a crazy habit of flashing their light and then turning it off right as they approach you.  Then there are the official and unofficial road blocks- you are lucky if you get an official one because bandits set up surprise check points and will take everything, even the car (we were warned these robberies are becoming more and more frequent).

The next morning we set out to explore Yaounde since we had only seen it in the dark before with our late arrivals and early departures.  At night the city was impressive with all the lit buildings and working street lights.  In the daytime the government buildings, hotels, and other large edifices stood out even more and seemed modern for Africa.  After lunch we toured the local beer factory and discovered to the chagrin of my companions that the Yaounde factory only did blonde beers and the Guiness was done in a neighboring town.  They still enjoyed a couple at the end of the tour while I choked down a couple weird flavored Schweppes.
Logging trucks on the way to the port

I noticed as we went out to dinner that night that there aren't a lot of expats in Yaounde and my small group of friends attracted a lot of attention.  Nobody hassled us, but we stood out more than back in Dakar where there are westerners everywhere.  There were also no new BMWs anywhere to be seen.  I saw a couple new Mercedes E-class driven by what appeared to be government types, but besides that the perverse displays of wealth by the elites weren't evident like in many other cities (like in Dakar were you seen five or more new BMW X6s every day).  The people were nice and I enjoyed walking around Yaounde.

Surfing Cameroon

 Limbe, Cameroon
1 June 2011

After a late night arrival in Yaounde last night (took us 14 hours to fly from N'Djamena to Yaounde on 5 different segments) we got up early in the morning and drove back to Douala.  We had stopped there earlier yesterday on our aerial tour of the region but we had stupidly believed our travel agent that we couldn't get a rental car to Yaounde so it was better to keep on flying.  The drive wasn't too bad, we just had to keep dodging logging trucks carrying massive dead trees- many more than five feet in diameter.  We spent a couple hours in Douala but it wasn't too impressive for being the biggest city in Cameroon.  Actually most of the time we spent in Douala was stuck in traffic.

From Douala we headed towards Mt Cameroon and the black sand beaches of Limbe.  Light rain and low clouds obscured the view of the mountain and prevented us from climbing it.  However, we went to the beach and I was able to rent an old broken Bic 9' longboard for 5,000 CFA.  Out in the warm silvery water I discovered the board was broken in two places, which made it easier to duck-dive and more comfortable to paddle (first break was near my head and the second was under my ribs).  The waves were knee to thigh high and rising and I was able to catch as many as I wanted.  I couldn't do anything aggressive with the broken board, but it was nice to get up and cruise with a couple slow turns.

Limbe night life is non-existent besides the few college/youth groups doing research or service projects.  We ended up at a house that was converted into a restaurant at dinner time.  When it came time to order we were asked if we wanted fish, chicken, or beef- the only options of the day.  The fish was great and I was still totally relaxed from the first good surf session in what seems like ages.  Chad was cool, but all that sand and no waves (and almost no water, even in Lake Chad).

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Last days in N'Djamena

N'Djamena, Chad

The last couple days we have just been hanging out in N'Djamena. There isn't a whole lot to do here but wrestle with my friend's gazelle and hang out by the pool. For memorial day my friend had a BBQ with a roasted pig and a fish fry. We watched part of the Red Sox game and a couple expats from the community came over and had some drinks. I think we have eaten at all four of the restaurants that cater to expats and wandered around the monuments and the local market. What else is there to do in N'Djamena?