Wednesday, November 3, 2010


On our way to Fougamou we made a little detour and visited the Sindara Mission. Over one hundred years old, semi-abandoned but well taken care of (apparently, these two are not contradictory), it is a lovely complex of buildings, well worth a visit, if only to feel the overwhelming peace which emanates from the place.

We parked our car next to Our Lady of the Equator church, and began exploring. There was nobody around but you could see the presence of people in the trimmed garden and the general cleanliness. After looking around for a while, we found an amazing path, with huge monumental trees on both sides, which led to the other Mission buildings: a school, a library and another church, from which the sound of prayer reached us. Two security guards explained that the school was still running, even though the Mission was indeed less and less frequented by priests and teachers. As we expressed the wish to see the river, one of the guards, saying that he had nothing to do anyway, offered to be our guide.

Heading for the river, we chatted to the guard, who patiently answered our questions. We were about to reach a village, when we ran into an agitated old man, a friend of our guide, who told us the following story:
My wife and I went to the plantation. I stayed a bit longer, while my wife went back to the village. To my surprise, as I came back to the village to pick her up, she was dancing and having fun. I got angry. I broke my wife's basket and left her in the village. I am walking home alone.
Believe it or not, the broken basket was still there, carelessly tossed to the side of the road, when we got to the village, and the wife, most probably full of shame, was nowhere to be seen. There was loud music coming from one of the buildings (the village bar, we assumed) but the dancers must have called it a day.

We reached the river and saw the rapids, misleadingly referred to as waterfalls by the locals. On our way back we made a little stop in the village, to get a cool drink. The drinks, however, turned out to be the very opposite of cool, which bothered us greatly, but had no effect whatsoever on our guide, who could've competed against the world champions in fast beer drinking. As we sipped on our D'jino, all the children gathered in the bar, sucking on their big red lollipops, a selection of at least ten pairs of eyes staring at us almost without blinking. I smiled and waved, and felt I was expected to do something amusing, I just couldn't figure out what.

We left Sindara, slowly walking under the towering trees and following the church choir, who sang and advanced slowly, burning candles in their hands. A truly mystical sight, I thought, and three minutes later I fell down, scratching my hand, and hurting my elbow. As mystical as it gets.

Later on, when we came back to the car, our guide insisted on exchanging phone numbers, so that we could stay in touch. We consented, and were shocked to receive a phone call from him yesterday, asking if we'd got home all right. He's planning to come to Libreville next week, so maybe we could meet up. Well, maybe we could.

More pictures from Sindara here.

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