I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel's sake. The great affair is to move. RL Stevenson

What is this life if, full of care, we have no time to stand and stare? Welsh poet, William Henry Davies

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

The Gambia


21/22/23 January
Ahh I've been forgetting the Maggi!

I taxi off to Pompieres, Dakar again to head off to Karang and Senegal’s middle border with The Gambia. Road is ok – then gets worse & worse. But we have a good driver who negotiates the twists & turns at a fair speed, getting us to the border around 2.30pm. Now a bloke in the car is full of information and he tells me “the women at the border are cheating people – cash your money with the Fulanis” But I let him do the deal, get cheated & lose $20 worth of dalanis. And there I thought I was onto a good thing! Arriving in The Gambia, I meet up with the National Commsioner, Yamundow Jogne Jobe who invites me to dinner Sunday night & to visit their headquarters on Monday. I stay overnight in Serekunda in an awful room and go looking the next morning to move. Now The Gambia is renowned (in Europe, from where they have quick access) for its Atlantic beach resorts, and so I was tempted. I head off to look for alternative rooms but most everywhere around the beaches I was harangued & petitioned by all manner of young men for my attention – “you looking for me sister?” was one line that particularly made me laugh. These blokes are known as ‘bumsters’ and sex tourism for women is their game, so I guess you can’t really blame then for trying. I soon scarper back to the relative anonymity & shelter of Serekunda town and bargain for a better room where I’m staying then head out to Lamin Lodge wetlands. This place is built like a big kid’s castle, suitable eccentric & peaceful overlooking the Gambia River & its wetlands. Great lunch high up in a tower, get a lift back to the highway to a ‘wildlife’ park. I am immediately approached again with a hissed “Do you remember me?” I quickly reassure him that there would be no reason whatsoever for me to remember him and he scuttles off. The park is nice enough with a few birds but no animals bar a few monkeys tempted by tourist’s peanuts. I chat with a couple of poms who are also disappointed by Gambia, being stuck out at a resort & trying to find other things to do!
Seregambia is another small village that is the home to more Atlantic resorts & also another wildlife park. Not wishing to make hasty opinions about The Gambia (although they are coming hard & fast) I walk the length & breadth of this park but again no animals. :-(

Head back to town for dinner @ Yamundow’s home. I’m picked up by her nephew & a woman who is a pom by accent, by trinidadian parents. She has just had a marriage ceremony here in Gambia because “it’s cheaper’ and is going home to cook goat for her new inlaws etc. I tell her that I thought goat took a lot of time to cook – apparently not here because it’s ‘organic’!?? Methinks she hasn’t done a lot of cooking up to now. I ask after her religion - she is christian, and I ask her if she is planning to convert to Islam – she says that is still up for discussion! Hmmm
Dinner at Yamundows with her husband is lovely with typical arachide (groundnut) sauce & rice. We make arrangements to visit their Guide Headquarters the next day.
FACT Yamundow confirmed that there are no animals in the parks, due to prolonged drought here!

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