click to read the journal of an amazing trip to the gambia
The GambiaGot here all good no probs, no delays at airport but had the usual scramble with the porters to carry our bags 20 metres to the coach, its easier to just let them- a pound coin keeps them happy and saves the hassle.
Got to hotel and went for the obligatory first walk on the beach, was already about 5pm by this time but still quite hot. Got a few beach sellers following us, its kinda nicer to chat with them than ignore them but that does encourage them a bit and it did to the extent that a lad called Moses stuck to us like a limpet. We ended up having a drink at a beach bar he took us to and he even sat with us while we drank reeling out his tourist speel. We ordered some food and discovered that ready in 10 minutes in The Gambia means ready in a hour or just.... whenever, because of this it was now getting dark and Bec was worried about walking back across the beach in the dark as there was no lighting and we dont really know where we are! Finished our grub and went to pay inside, it was dark by now and they had no lights inside whatsoever so we settled our bill using the light from a little pen torch which seemed completely normal to them but quite weird to us. Started walking back quite briskly as 1. its pitch black 2. we had ended up walking a long way down here 3. Bec was busting for the toilet! Moses insisted on walking back with us jabbering away as we walked until we got to a stream that crossed the beach to the sea and then I think he didnt want to get his feet wet and left us alone. Werent sure which was our hotel being as we didnt recognise anything yet, being pitch black didnt help too much, then with local bumsters mithering us Bec was getting nervous. Got back ok in the end and had a quiet night at hotel. Off to sleep now, am feeling shattered like a bag of broken biscuits, have been up since 4am and now its about 11pm so early night and go explore tomorrow.....
Sunday 22nd HERE COMES THE PRESIDENT
At night we got a taxi to Senegambia where its busier than near our hotel and had a meal in restaurant called GTS which is run by a charity. Food was top notch, had a Gambian dish called Domoda made with peanut sauce, the waiters are really friendly, laughing and joking around. As the night went on went for some drinks, watched some bongo band and aquired a friend, or at least a lad who followed us and sat with us while we had a drink (?). The funniest bit of the night was when the president paraded past, there was an enourmous entourage of police and military in front and behind, the locals all lined the roadside and when he finally came past on his open top truck wearing a dazzlingly bright white african suit everyone cheered and waved. It was like an FA cup winners parade but with 10 times more security, apparantly its a regular occurance and one which Gordon Brown could only dream of.
In the morning we went to hire some bikes out and tried to haggle the price with some limited success but they are far better at haggling than me. Cycled down to Bilijo forest park which is a few km away although we ended up cycling twice as far due to poor map reading. Hired a guide to navigate us round the forest, his name was Dansa, he was a nice bloke and liked being in our photos "here, take one with the guide". There were loads of monkeys bouncing around and wrestling each other and further down the trail we found tropical birds, massive spiders, geckos, lizards and huge termite mounds.
We have decided cycling is the way to go for a number of reasons; see more local life along the way, good exercise to work off calories from our daily beer intake, costs less than taxis, and.... well... we just like it.
Just been running on the beach again, ran a few km along to same beach bar as yesterday. Lots of Gambian lads all along the beach playing football, running, doing press ups (seems a popular passtime), or just generally hanging around. Every 20 metres or so someone is shouting "hey, good running!", "the boss lady runs good!" or "hey! strongman!". We got to beachbar called The Seaview and had a drink, some fella ambles over, asks our names and sits with us playing a song on this weird string insrument. He starts singing a belter of a song "ooh Becci and Johnnnn, ooh Becci and Jooohnnn, oooh on holidayyy, ooh Gambia is nice, Becci and Johnnn..." etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. I gave him 10 dalasis which he seemed a bit peeved at and asked if he could have the change after I had paid for our drinks (he didnt get it). I didnt ask him to play his weird song and if I pay everyone who approaches us I'd be skint already!
We jogged back and were joined by a local lad who quite refreshingly wasnt trying to sell anything and just wanted to run with us and talk, he was a decent runner and we struggling to keep up with him although I did beat him when challenged to a sprint. He asked if he could join us for a run next time so we'll keep a look out for him.