Innoculations Down the Mangrove River
I love telling people how between the two of us we paid US$1300 for our innoculations for West Africa. Yellow fever alone was US$250 a pop. I even got a shot for typhoid, and thought of Scarlett O’Hara’s mother who died of typhoid during the US Civil War and truly felt like I was turning back time.
My husband paid $200 for malaria pills alone, while I was prescribed the generic version for just $10. Not sure if there was really a difference, but his dreams were clear and vivid, and, supposedly, helped him clarify his goals in life.
We arrived at the Saloum Delta, where the Saloum River meets the Atlantic, and were escorted to a mini-paradise of calm and serenity called Lodge des Collines de Niassam in Palmarin. Little huts built into the majestic baobab trees looked fun, but the best spot in town was our Villa Number 1, the first of four villas built on stilts on top of the river, like a river version of the Maldives.
Villa Number 1 faced due west. This meant you also had the best view in town for every sunset, viewing of which was a major activity not to be missed. By this time we already learned that every sunset in Africa was unique and different, even from the same spot, and had started to plan our days around sunset viewing. During high tide you could swim in the brackish water right off the deck of the villa, at low tide you could walk across to the other side of the river.
We decided to take a mangrove boat tour, organized by Ecolodge Palmarin, a neighboring establishment situated on the Atlantic rather than the river. Our local guide at one point along the river took out a machete and hacked off three mangrove roots, covered from head to toe in oysters, then took us to a spot with a lone baobab tree. He gathered some twigs and made a brush fire out of nothing. Then proceeded to grill the mangrove roots in the fire.
Out of this the most deliciously smoked charred oysters emerged, and our guide took out a pocket knife and shucked the oysters one by one and fed us with his bare hands. Or more like we slurped the salty, smoky deliciousness off the palm of his hands over and over again. Once we had our fill we swam in the high tide water, and lazily looking over at my husband I said – so much for inoculations.
Lesson number seven: Hell with inoculations. Eat local food, drink local water, take the ice, and don’t fear fresh vegetables, because at the end of the day you will be slurping half-cooked river bivalves off a stranger’s hand.
All images courtesy of NewsWhistle
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