Adventuring into the unknown on a fully-loaded bike heading south from Toubab Dialaw, our most recent base in Senegal. My 24-year old son Viva and I love bike touring through new lands as a way of getting exercise, seeing the country slowly, finding beautiful hidden nature spots, meeting people along the way, and feeling fulfilled with the completed kilometers every day.
The Palmarin coast is an off-the-beaten-path destination only accessible by hard-packed laterite and sand roads with nary a Soul on it. The country is actually building an asphalt road here and so for now it is off limits to large amounts of traffic. Though the sun beats down there is a breeze that gently pushes us forward towards the ocean.
After several hours of dirt road we spot the whitewater in the distance, past lagoons of flamingoes. We stop for a nude sunbathe on a deserted beach before heading south on the beach at low tide. It’s quite a joy riding at sunset on the beach and not knowing where we will stop. As always the Universe provides and we spot what looks like a terra cotta-tinted cob ecovillage resort on the left. We find eighteen adorable heart-shaped 25m2 bungalows in which the two rounded pop-outs are the bedroom and bathroom and a central square shape is the living room. The bungalows are iron oxide-plastered and have some simple symbols on them like “X’s” and “O’s”. Entering, the interior plaster is white with straw specks and I am smiling at the home-made shelving, bed platforms, storage holes, archways, sink holder and unusual windows, typical of cob structures.
To my dissappointment I learn that these beautiful earthen structures that look like original African dwellings are made with cement. Bummer. The fact that the rooves are flat and contained inside of the walls with spouts exiting them towards the ground is the hint that we are not looking at cob dwellings. However it is unfortunate that the inside is cement-based as well, and that the floor is bricks and not cob. Nonetheless it gives me much pleasure to see this alternative paradise in a home of earthen building, Africa. And inspires me for my upcoming ecovillage design project.
It feels like a gnome village with short arched openings to all the public spaces and between clusters of bungalows. In short it feeds the Soul which is half the reason for the mission I am on: “Feeding the Soul and Beautifying the Planet One Unique Cob House at a Time. For this reason alone I am grateful for the efforts made here by a Frenchman Olivier and his son. The coastline here is the quietest and most clean I have seen yet and Viva and I decide to hold a 3-day Vision Quest here camped in the shade on the beach, the whole place to ourselves. To be in Africa in silence is magical. Even if we do not stay in the bungalows, their visual presence brings joy and peace.