Around The Gambia in 280 (PG Tips) teabags! Heading back to Makasutu (home!) via the Barra-Banjul ferry, across the Gambia River. TV Stars-are-us! thanks to Ibrahim Jatta and his ‘Expedition Gambia’ interview he recorded with us right at the beginning of the journey for GRTS (Gambia Radio & Television)
Blog Entry: Saturday 12th December 2009. Distance walked to-date: 889km
We are sitting on the side of the road in Kanifing area, waiting for Adama, the mechanic, to come from Makasutu Culture Forest to put our cart wheel back on! More on that in a minute.
Last night we spent the night by the Gambia River in Barra, on the North Bank, so that we could catch the first ferry in the morning over to Banjul to begin the final leg of our journey back to Makasutu - home. Our accommodation, kindly provided by the Alkalo, was a disused warehouse smack bang in the middle of the fish market on the shores of the river Gambia. At first we were a little disappointed as it was not the most salubrious of camp sites to-date (especially after having spent the previous night in a beautiful orchard, beneath a giant neem tree, in Chamen Sosseh).
There was nowhere to pitch the tents as the compound was completely concreted over. So, we hung our mosquito net, put down a couple of mats and slept with a canopy of stars and the waning moon above us. It truly was quite wonderful.
When we got to the port in the early hours, people were approaching us to say that they had seen us on tv and that most Gambians thought that there was no way we could walk around The Gambia – especially ‘the toubabo’s’ as they don’t walk anywhere!! Ha! they of little faith! We have the photo’s to prove it too!
Whilst waiting in the cold morning air for the ticket office to open, we enjoyed a cup of hot Nescafe with condensed (sweetened ofcourse!) milk from a Senegalese trader, made on his little cart. Believe it or not, for instant coffee, it has the most delicious taste– Florio and I got quite addicted to it when we were in Senegal last year! It’s the whole ritual of making it too, that adds to the taste – putting the coffee in the cup, pouring in the water, then adding the milk, then pouring the coffee numerous times from one cup to another to get the mix just right. The Senegalese love coffee but The Gambians don’t seem to go for it as much (its more about their atayah green tea) so it’s a rare treat to find one of these sellers in The Gambia. And all for D7 (about 16 pence)!
Once the ticket office opened, there was the usual scramble for tickets (Florio and I have both been to this port before) – people running for the booths like it’s the sale of the century, despite there being fenced, single-file walkways to the booths!
We cajoled Neil and (p)Hadley onto the ferry – that was hard work (particularly when you’ve spent most of the previous night, lying awake, looking up at the stars). As previously mentioned, Donkeys do not like water at all and I swear they can smell it for miles to come! Eventually, we set off on a pretty choppy crossing around 7.15am – all of us a little green around the gills when we disembarked in Banjul after lurching from side to side for the past 45 minutes.
Once back on Banjul terra firma we found a roadside ‘diner’ (a rickety wooden table covered with a plastic tablecloth and benches) where we all enjoyed a celebratory breakfast of omelette in tapalapa for Florio and I, cous cous and salty fish for Janneh, Samba and Momadou and more coffee (not as tasty as the Senegalese cuppa we had earlier, I have to say). After having spent 6 weeks eating sardines and bread for breakfast this was like breakfast at Tiffanys!
M’conna fata (I have a full belly), we headed out on the July 22nd Highway from Banjul on the last 35km’s of pur journey which, ironically, turned out to be the most challenging of all.
Colour Image: Florio - 2009 ‘Get the coffee’s in Jones!’ Barra Ferry Terminal – on our way home – 6am and feeling the cold!
B&W Image: Jones-2009 Florio, Momadou & Samba. Early morning, leaving Barra on the ferry for Banjul
http://www.gambia.co.uk/ (specialising in flights to West Africa)