Diaries from an intrepid filmmaker (11)

Local network was down – now back online!

So far we have been following characters in villages around the island of Bubaque, the main urban space, if we can call it that. Today we left our modest but comfortable hotel for a trip to another island, Cahabaque.

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We landed on a paradisal beach but then had to walk several kilometres through a forest, beautiful but hellish having to carry our equipment, tent, food and water for five days. Thank goodness a few kids were waiting for us on the beach and delighted at the prospect of earning a few bobs. What a workout! And of course we are wimps next to those skinny kids, all muscle and strength!

This had been my shopping list to survive 5 days:

  • Generator: 1
  • Petrol: 80 litres
  • Water: 25 litres
  • Rice: 12 kg
  • Spaghetti: 3 kg
  • Tins: 10

All I was able to find in the market at 9 am was:

  • Potatoes: 1 kg
  • Tomatoes: 1 kg
  • Green peppers: 4 (for the same price that is charged by young Bijagó women for prostitution for 2 visits to a foreign tourist)
  • No fruit (frustrating considering we are on a tropical island, but fruit is neither bought nor sold – just consumed)

Insect bites: so many I have no spare skin on my legs or arms.
Worms under the skin: 2 (thank goodness locals are brilliant at removing them with tip of cactuses but one was caught too late and is definitely breeding... can't do anything until I return to Bubaque)

The arrival in the village was a show but the popularity of our fixer whose mother is royalty in that village and technically puts him 5th in line for royalty...but not before he is 60. Meanwhile it is his duty to serve the elders.

We have so much equipment to carry that we only brought a tent so I'm afraid we are going to have to sleep on the ground. However, Luis did a great job at building an outdoor shower – bliss at the end of a hot, very dusty day. I bet our cameras would love the same treatment. All we can do is use our little brush.

We pitched our tent in front of the village school which is currently closed due to lack of teachers. It is hard to find teachers wanting to live in the middle of nowhere and teach kids who speak Bijago and Creole but hardly any Portuguese. And more to the point, a government that only pays them badly and once in the blue moon.

About 30 people giggled at the three of us struggling trying to make sense of instructions to rig the tent while being attacked by insects!

The night was beautiful with stars but we had to get inside not to be bitten to death. Gosh the ground is hard... I'm not cut out for this outdoor life!

Read all of Noé's updates from the Bijagós so far.

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