Sometimes folk ask me if it’s worth visiting Abene. I explained that all of Casamance is wonderful but that Abene is perhaps a place that gets under your skin during a longer visit. There are few sites as such and it’s more a place to relax and enjoy the culture rather than make a flying visit.
But it’s very special: I’ve travelled all over Senegal, spent six years in Africa, have visited more than 20 African nations and this is where I’ve chosen to live.
1. Wildlife: There are crocodiles in the bolong (creek) right next to my regular internet cafe, a fact that never fails to tickle me, alongside monkeys, baboons, huge monitor lizards and of course the chameleon.
3. Bantam Wora:
The sacred tree is one of the most incredible trees in a province full of incredible trees.
4. The Beach:
There are beach shacks selling cold drinks and whipping up a lunch. Best of all – if you walk one hundred metres or so in either direction you’ve pretty much got the white sandy beach to yourself for miles on end.
I can eat (and have eaten) breakfast in Brighton, UK, and watch that evenings sunset on the beach in Abene. I can do Abene to full English fry up in the Gambia in about one hour. I’m on the doorstep of the mangrove islands which are my favourite part of the Casamance. I can leave Abene in the morning and reach Bissau for lunch. Other options are available.
6. The people:
Aside from the aforementioned music, there’s a melting pot of Diola, Karoninka, Balanta, Susu, Mandinka, Fula, Wolof, Toubab and other tribes, each bringing their ceremonies and traditions into the village.
I love the fact that the nearest tarmac road is a couple of miles away, that we, like many here, live off grid and that the internet fluctuates between terrible and pathetic …how could I have built five houses, had two children, written a book (nearly two), written 19 blog posts so far in 2016 (mind you, uploading them has tested my normally mild mannered disposition) and started several businesses if I had super-fast broadband???
9. Our guests:
Abene guests are a discerning lot – the ones I meet are generally mad about African culture and music, love adventure, are keen to see the real Africa and enjoy trading stories round the fire over a gazelle beer or three. I love ‘em.
10. And the best reasons?
So, my question to other residents and visitors is: what is it that you love about Abene?