Cricets, a distant frog and hundreds if not thousands of roosters nearby and in distance awakes me perfectly at 5 am. Ganvie is Africas largest community on water, 39000 people on tiny islands and stilt houses.
I slept surpisingly good on my thin sleepingbag and a double folded plastic carpet just on top of the one layer wooden planks, the stilt house floor (be aware of your mobile phone...) . The house sometimes moves with a bigger wave from a motordriven canoe passes with its swell. I catch the first thoughts about where I am and formulate it in words before getting dressed. I am here to see, a great reference and somehow document Africas largest community on water and importantly make some connections with a school maybe for an idea of an exchange project. We will start the day now at 5, going fishing with my guide an architect, 29 years old, married with one wife and a 5 month kid. His house is smaller and her two early teenage brothers live with them in a three room house, which was 16 or maybe 20 sqm. Heibert showed it to me yesterday as we were taking a night promenade in the village. A promenade here means me sitting with him in a kannoe made of a few big long wooden planks and his friend standing in the back like the taxidrivers in Vennice. It takes us about 10 min to come to his place from his brothers where I stay. Huberts house is low in cieling and about 1,5 m above the lakes level at the moment. He tells me the level can differ up to two metres.
As I am writing this I am on the doc - porch of his brothers house. Here lives his mother and father and maybe 3-4 kids. We all had dinner together yestarday. About 8 of us sitting around a well built wooden table and matching armchairs built by the father who is a carpenter. Armchairs but no cousions. I did not ask but it can be that coussions would get too damp or that they have prioritised differently because of poverty. Anyway right now I see the dark silhuette of some 20 one-family houses on the other riverbank some 50 m away. I can here loud singing from one place and children screaming and people talking distantly. Also boat motors coming and going and the sound of wood against wood as oars hit the canoes. It is so awake at 5 in the morning. Two lights are blinking. A green one on the left and a red one two the right showing the riverpath in the night. Hubert and his friend picks me up and we float slowly in the nightlight towards many canoes lit by oil lamps. Every cannoe with an oil lamp is selling food or buying fish from the incoming fishermen. It is a low calm conversation between the parties buying and selling. Every now and then the vendors shouts something loudly advertising there goods. The buyer provides the pot for there food and it gets filled with food. If you you dont have a pot yourself you get rice, tomatoesauce, greens, fish and pepperpaste in a small thin, plastic bag. Between the kanoes flows seeweed. A problem in the village when lake level is high. It makes roads smaller. And very difficult for the bigger cannoes to get to there houses in the narrow canals.
It suddenly gets lighter. The night turns to day and with that arrives the colorfully paterned cloths.
Now I see that the boats selling are tide to fixed sticks in the water making the cannoe stay in one place.
Could this be the future somehow? When see levels rise? How many islands, villages, cities will have roads turning into waterways? 44% of the world population lives in near coastal areas.