onsdag 7. desember 2011

About the reasons to travel: The baobab


A baobab tree in the Sine-Saloum delta region of Senegal.

A recent blog post about "inspirational travel quotes" lured the grumpy old man inside me to come forward. Because who needs wise and witty one liners to remember the joys of travelling?

Not this grumpy Norwegian. I don't find inspiration in reading that John A. Shedd once wrote or said or mumbled “a ship in harbor is safe, but that is not what ships are built for” or that Britain's imperialistic politician Benjamin Disraeli once claimed that "travel teaches toleration".

Between Joal-Fadiout and Sine-Saloum is
Senegal's biggest baobab tree. And yes,
you can step inside of it.

I prefer other sources of inspiration. Like the world itself. It's deeply fascinating, with all its wildly diverse habits and customs.

A very good example - that I learned from my friend Yacine in Senegal in 2006 and was reminded of today, reading up before a trip to Benin in January - is the baobab tree. This African tree can be, and is, used for almost every purpose.

To quote the guidebook Visage du Bénin by Colette Tshaou Hodonou:

* Its leaves make an excellent vegetable rich in calories, iron, proteins, cellulose, ascorbic acid and calcium.
The trunk of Senegal's No. 1 baobab.
* They are used in medicinal preparations against fever, malaria, stomacj pains, asthma, Guinea worm, diarrhea, dysentery, urinary affections, intestinal inflammations and excessive perspirations.
* Fibers of the trunk make resistant stringings, mats, nets and baskets.
* The infused bark heals inflammations, fever, and fight rachitis.
* The pulp of its fruit is very rich in vitamin C, dissolved in water gives an efficient beverage to fight children's diarrhea. This beverage also cures intestine and liver inflammations and malaria.
* The crushed shell of the fruit gives an excellent disinfectant.
* The powdered wood is used as fertilizer in fields.
* The trunk is a great reservoir of water. Its natural or dug cavity seves as a barn, a water tank and receives the corpse of great warriors for the eternal rest.

Now if all those uses of a strange looking tree don't tempt you more to go see for yourself than a meagre quote by someone, you are very different from me. Which in itself could be a proof of how fascinating a place this world really is.
Me in the entrance/exit of Senegal's biggest baobab.