Villages of the Kalissaye Reserve - Boune and Kailo

Boune - Satellite View

Unlike the sparse landscape at the waterside entry to Saloulou,
our first sight of the small docking jetty on the edge of Boune village was enchanting ... as was to be the whole village.

Kailo - Satellite View

Mooring our pirogue at the jetty, we walked two hundred yards or so and were in the centre of another spotlessly clean village, where a large and ancient metal buoy was hanging from the branches of a large tree. This is evidently the Boune equivalent of a large drum and is sounded to bring the people of the village together for meetings and other important occasions. Close by was a  purpose-made large roundel bar and restaurant and a modern looking Christian church.

Unlike the past troubles, which were mainly concerned with political and economic quarrels between the South and North of Sénégal, a mixture of age-old tribal cultures and beliefs, animism and introduced religions, Christian and Islamic, can and do peacefully coexist in this region. Surely a lesson the rest of the world could and should learn.

Another of our guides, who was born here, took me for a walk around the village, introduced me .. with my camera clicking as normal .. to his family and some of his neighbours. We then retired to the restaurant for cool drinks and a chat with the staff and the crowd of local youngsters which had gathered. Their tourist trade had suffered a major decline since the former troubles and they were at a loss to explain and understand why tourists had not returned as before, putting severe strains on their earning capacity. They were at great pains to point out that now there were no problems in the area or in the entire Casamance region and suspected that false rumours of dangers were being spread by those in North Sénégal and other neighbouring countries, in an effort to keep tourist revenues to themselves. Wherever I travelled throughout The Casamance, I heard many similar opinions, both from those in business and private citizens ... and found nothing to disprove them. 

It was time to leave and continue our journey to visit our final village of the day .. Kailo, where the third of my guides was born. Walking back through Boune, we were hailed by a group of ladies and young girls, energetically pounding grain in large traditional pestle and mortars, eager to hear the latest Kafountine gossip from the guides. Eventually we re-boarded the pirogue and headed upstream to Kailo.

Between the water and Kailo village was an area of rice fields .. with raised boundaries to keep the water in .. looking extremely parched and waiting for the arrival of the rainy season in June, when more cultivating and planting would commence. We walked through the fields and found ourselves in the smallest village we had visited. Only a few houses, but yet again, we were warmly welcomed by their friendly inhabitants. The warmest welcome came for the guide whose

family lived there .. in the form of his pet monkey, who rushed up and proceeded to give him a thorough grooming .. much to everyones' amusement !

All of the families were involved in processing their crops .. from great grandparents down to the youngest children. A leisurely life at that time of year, but in common with the other islanders, it must be a very tough existence to survive solely on subsistence farming and fishing without the aid of the tourist income, which they had become used to.

It was time to go .. as we left in our pirogue, a larger craft arrived .. to drop passengers and ferry others between the island villages. A multi-coloured boat with travellers in multi-coloured clothing, anxious as we were, to get home before darkness fell. We retraced our route and headed back to Kafountine after a long but fascinating day amongst the islands and their peoples. Magical !!

That night, my friends invited me to attend a village function put on by the local Church Mission.
Not knowing whether it would be a prayer meeting, a discussion of religious ethics, or tea and biscuits in the sanctity of the local church .. I eventually found the venue in the middle of the darkest part of the village. Much to my surprise, the place was packed, both inside of what looked like a school classroom and over a large open area outside. Scores of plastic chairs and tables with the youths of Kafountine and the surrounding villages .. sitting back leisurely drinking beer and soft drinks, laughing and chatting. The air was so full of local tobacco smoke, it would have been impossible to take any photos .. so you will just have to imagine the happy, trouble-free scene.

I did not stay that late, but it was after 3.00 am when I eventually wound my way back to the A La Nature hotel and I looked to be the first to leave the party, which would probably last all night !

Perhaps I should have had an earlier night after the exertions of the day .. for next morning breakfast was not quite so early as I had planned .. and I had a fairly long journey to cover by bush taxi, before reaching my next destination of Ziguinchor, the provincial capital of the Casamance region and a place that held many fond memories for me, from previous visits many years before.