Justine's Guide To Abene

 

Banjul airport to Abene

  • Porters - If you want the porters help, let them take your luggage (they will expect payment of about £1). If you don't want help, you have to be quite firm.
  • You'll need £5.00 - tourist tax
  • Journey to Abene from Banjul takes 2 hours (approx) and costs about 20,000 CFA per person - Jan and Laye can arrange transport.
  • Water - I found it was easier to have a bottle of water with me for journey to Abene.
  • Food - bring a snack if you think you'll need. There are places to stop but I found it easier not to.
  • Pens - Whenever the vehicle stops, children knock on the window to ask for pens so have some in your hand luggage ready to give out. They will also want to swap addresses.
  • Toilets - I prefer to wait until the only place to go is behind the nearest bush. If you are in village it feels like a bit of a hassle going into a family compound to use their's.
  • Borders - There are various points where you'll get your passport stamped. Just be polite and don't laugh too much!
  • Toilets/Showers

    Toilets are usually a hole in the ground! Showers are usually a bucket (traditional African style). In Jan's place there are ensuite western-style toilets and showers in some rooms - others have traditional African versions.


     

    Money

     

    • CFA - Check out exchange rates just before you go to make sure you are getting a fair rate. Change money when you get there. Approximate rate in early 2008 was 780 to 800 to £1
    • Traveller's Cheques - these are not used and not recommended.
    • Bring cash ( £ sterling). How much depends on whether you are buying drums, lots of clothes etc. Bring more than you think you'll need !

     

    Cost of accommodation & food

     


    See the Accomodation page on this website for details. There are also places to eat out in Abene.


     

    Buying things

     

    Get ready to barter - don't be embarrassed - it can be fun and is expected.

     

    Mosquitos

     

    There are mosquitos around but as Abene is by the coast, this minimises the number. I did wear insect repellent from early evening onwards. If for any reason you went to Ziguinchor (largest town in Casamance - not particularly recommended) or further inland, you would get bitten!

     

    • Mosquito repellent - I use a roll-on one that has Deet in it and a spray for my head
    • Jan's rooms have window net-protection.

     

    Trips

     

    • The Big Tree - Jan and Laye can arrange to take you there
    • Bird Island - well worth a visit to chill out for the day, although you won't see many birds if you visit in December or January!

     

    Clothes/Temperature

     

    Hot in day but not so hot at night during December and January when you might need a light jacket at night e.g. denim.

    • Footwear - Everywhere you walk in Abene it is sandy! Leave your stilettos at home guys! You could wear sandals/flip flops day and night (insect repellent on feet/ankles at night).
    • Tailor-made clothes - There are various tailors. You go and get your material (sometimes people come to house to sell or go to Kafountine (7km, 5,000 to 15,000 CFA by bush taxi) where there are lots of places selling material). You can have your own design made or an outfit in traditional design. Do this early (as with many things in Africa, takes time to get done!). A man's shirt costs about 5,000 to 15,000 CFA.

     

    Water

     

    Buy bottles of water by the box (approximately 600CFA per bottle). I used about 2 a day.

     

    Food

     

    If you hate rice - don't go! Most meals are pretty similar with rice, veg (limited selection) and meat or fish or Eggs. Jan offers alternatives such as couscous and pasta. If you are veggie bring nuts and seeds for protein. Breakfast is a French-style baguette and fresh fruit such as papaya, pineapple and oranges.

     

    Nightlife

     

    There are various bars dotted around village plus a few venues where discos are held. They sell the same drinks (fanta or coca cola or beer). Usually there is a disco or something happening somewhere in Abene most nights esp. Friday nights. Many of the discos start with a "programme" i.e. a group performing, followed by disco till early hours. The Senegalese wear anything from really traditional clothes to trendy gear. You may find "friends" accompanying you to the disco (for free entry!).

    • Costs about 500 to 1000 CFA to get in to disco e.g. 50p to £1.
    • Drinks are about 400-600 for sucre (fanta, cola), 600-800 for beer and 2000-3000 for a bottle of red wine.

     

    Language

     

    Most people can speak French. Some speak English and other European languages. The African languages spoken in Abene are mainly Mandinka and Diola. They love it if you learn some local phrases.

     

    Essential items

     

    • Torch
    • Mosquito repellent
    • Sun protection cream and after-sun e.g. aloe vera
    • Plasters or tape for drummer's blistered hands (depending on how much you play)
    • Sunglasses
    • Hat

     

    Drumming/Dancing

     

    • Teachers can be arranged and booked at Jan's.
    • Other teachers - Whatever you plan with a teacher, get it written down (even if he can't read) including costs, start and finish times and what you have received. Prices vary !
    • Dancing - I had lessons with Appai (Malo's brother), they were 1 hour starting at 9/9.30
    • No drumming on Fridays
     
    French (Fr)English (United Kingdom)