Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Bridging the Babylon

Back when I went to Kayemor for the first time last September (for my Volunteer Visit, aka “Demyst”), the main road to Kayemor was flooded so the Peace Corps dropped Kate and I off next to the river and then we shouldered our backpacks and forded the river with our bikes. Here’s a video of when Kate and I were biking up to Nioro on my last full day in Kayemor and were fording the river:

This was a fun and exciting experience, but, once I actually lived in Kayemor, having to ford the river every time I wanted to go to Nioro or Kaolack (or anywhere else, really, except deeper into the bush) got pretty old. I don’t think the road completely dried off until Christmas time, a good 2-3 months after the rains had completely stopped. All dry season I kept hoping that construction was going to start on the road so there would be a better bridge and/or better culverts so the road wouldn’t get so flooded, but each month kept passing and no construction started.

Finally in April I heard rumors that construction on the road was going to start soon. Only 2 and a half months later did it actually get started, right when the rains were starting, too, which clearly forced the matter, but also made construction that much more challenging. Considering how long it took for them to start construction on the bridge, the actual construction process was relatively quick for American standards (and really fast for Senegalese standards). Within about 2 months almost all the culverts were redone and a few more were added. Now let’s just hope they hold well and don’t collapse in another month…or next rainy season…

Here are several pictures I took 3 different times on my way back to Kayemor from Kaolack. They were all taken from inside a moving car (the first 2 times I’m in the big, white cars that I always take for public transport to and from Kayemor, and the last day I was in a nice new truck that a USAID-funded project was renting for a couple weeks – yay for air-conditioning!) so that’s why some of them are blurry.

July 7:

July 21:

August 9:

Kids on the side of the road catching the small fish that live in the river to eat for dinner:

August 19:

The sun setting over the new road bridging the Babylon:

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