Image: A Short Walk in The Gambian Bush expedition team celebrate reaching the village of Koina, The Gambia West Africa - half way home on their 930km walk! L-R: Momadou, Janneh, Samba, Florio, Jones (foreground)
Blog Entry: Monday 23rd November, 2009
The team reach the most easterly village in The Gambia, Koina (Senegal just over the border) - 463km walked to-date! celebrating with Alkalo’s family, drinking atayah green tea with lots of sugar!! Crossing The Gambia River on a flat-bottomed paddle boat with donkeys, gear, cart, team and all for D75 (1.70GBP/$2.70USD)! And a little Jamaican influence in The Gambia….
We reached Koina, at last. The last village in at the Eastern tip of The Gambia.
The villagers of Koina are from the Serahoule Tribe, who make up about 9% of the Gambian population. They are known as the entrepreneur’s of The Gambia - dealing in property development and diamonds, amongst other things. Their village’s tend to be very ‘modernised’ in the respect that they use a lot of concrete to build their houses and corrugated iron for the roof’s. Also, we noticed that despite having a lot of space, they build their houses back to back in their villages, creating narrow streets, almost like walking through a souq - a devil to get the donkey and cart through actually!!
The women are often beautiful adorned with large dangling gold hoops in their ears, necklaces and hair beads. The men also like to show off their wealth, wearing gold rings and often you will catch the odd flash of gold in their beaming smiles.
Due to the fact that Serehoule tribe’s prefer concrete over the traditional mud huts and sandy pathways, we found it difficult to find a place to pitch our tents as they also like to pave their compounds with concrete too. No soft tent-peg-friendly sandy ground here! However, a solution was found (as is always the case with the ever-resourceful Gambians), the alkalo’s son, Chima Gumaneh, and his family found us the only non-paved section of his compound - the rubbish dump around the back, by the donkey stables. Hey, its not the first time, we’ve camped on rubbish tip on the journey and we are ever grateful for a place to pitch our tents after a long days work! However, they very industriously set to work, swept and cleared a large area for our tents. Our donkeys were given fresh groundnut hay and stabled alongside the rather boisterous village donkeys. That move soon had to be changed when we turned to see (p)Hadley (our extremely head-strong and independent little donkey) kicking his back legs at the Alkalo’s donkeys snout!! Could have been messy. As it was, there was not that much room to move our donkeys much further away from the Serahoule’s, so we had to hitch them almost on top of our tents. I don’t know how many of you have had much experience with donkeys but they like to chomp on food, very loudly, all night (Flo and I we often pondered on when they actually slept?), heehaw to each other (whether its mating or fighting talk!) and, oh yes, lets not forget their rambunctious farting!! The word cacophony springs to mind.
Suffice to say, not much sleep was had that night.
P.S. the Serahoule’s also favour enclosed concrete ‘bathrooms’ which, in actual fact I was particularly grateful for - my first truly private bath (still with a bucket of water - but I’m not complaining) of the journey. However, I could hear the village kids in the next stall, laughing and joking in Serahoule, which I can’t speak let alone understand at all, but I had to burst out laughing when I heard one of them practicing his best Jamaican accent by repeating ‘bumbaclot, bumbaclot” over and over again to the delight of his giggling bath mates. That’ll be the MTV influence then - Serahoule’s also favour big satellite dishes!?!
24th Nov: We are now working our way along the North Bank – towards the main port of Barra, on the Gambia River - after having crossed the Gambia River with the donkeys and cart. A picture story all on its own! Coming over the next couple of blog entries!
More soon from Jones, Florio and the Short Walk Team xx