Not far from Wassu, we visited a traditional village. The houses are made from mud and the people are very poor by our standards, with no running water or electricity. It was interesting to see how they live in this area.
Known as the 'upside down' tree because its bare branches look like roots jetting out into the sky, the baobab tree dominates the landscape in this reagion. A local tale tells that devil himself uprooted the tree and placed it upside down. The baobab is also believed to have magical powers because of its ability to store water in the huge trunk. Other names for the tree includes 'monkey bread tree' from the pulpy nature of the large yellow fruits.
Superstition abounds around the baobab tree, and most villages have at least one specimen. There are few trees around with so many uses: The fruit is made into a drink, musical instrumets are fashioned from the bark, the fragrant white flowers are used as decoration during festivals. Leaves are eaten either frsh or dried. Dried leaves are powedered and used for medicinal purposes, said to cure rheumatism and inflammations. The bark is used to help cure malaria, the pulp is a remedy for circulatory ailments, the seeds are manufactured into soap and fertiliser. The gourd-like shells are fashioned into containers, bark can be woven into rope and cloth as well as being used as packing paper. The hollow trunks have been used as shelter over the centuries, whilst any dead trees are utilised as firewood or made into boats. Baobab trees have long been popular places for burials. Unlike most trees, the baobab does not increase in height as it gets older, it actually gets shorter whilst the girth increases, just like humans.
The circles are believed by many to be burial sites, a theory which was enforced with the discovery of early skeltons in the centre of some of the circles, as well as tools and pottery, items which made have been left with the dead to help them on their journey into the afterlife.
There is said to be a curse on anyone who is found disturbing this site, which is not a bad bit of superstition to have in place. In 1931, an arcaeologist and his expedition leader, both died mysetriously following excavations at this site.
It seems that no one near by of the locals will know to explaine you the story of those stones, they will only tell you it looks good to leave stones up like that. In the Wassu stone circles you have at least 10 laterite pillars erected arround a tree.
It seems to exists more stone monuments besides Wassu in the region ofthe North Bank. I didnt see them but I have the info you can maybe use. On the road to Niani Maru you have stones on each side of the road. At Njai Kunda you have the largest stones of them all, up to ten tonnes. At Kerr Batch you have nine circles of pillars, including an odd V-shaped one.
Wassu is just the place of thiese stone circles, 20km northwest of Janjanbureh aka Georgetown.
This place is quite interesting and you'll feel like you're actually almost in the begining of man kind here...but you're not, not at all, these rocks seems to be 750AD, so, quite recent I should say.
The surrounding landscape is also very nice which give you something odd to a normal westerner's eye.
The road is made of dirt in red colour, very strong one. I've never saw such a strong red on dirt and of course roads made of that, or, no roads i mean. there are no roads, just dirt tracks.