We’re not in Kansas anymore!
We are in the capital city of Banjul. The country of “The Gambia” runs along both sides of the Gambia river surrounded by the country of Senegal. This was an English colonial outpost. They were interested in shipping not settling so only wrestled this waterway away from the French in Senegal. So, English is the national language here.
We were met at the ship by our guide, Fakebba, a young man from the Mandinka Tribe. No air-conditioning, but we had a van rather than the open air trucks that took other ship tours off for the day. And now I need to apologize for saying the roads in Dakar were in disrepair. I misspoke. They were excellent compared to The Gambia! The guide book did say that Senegal boasts one of the best road networks in Western Africa. I forgot that everything is relative and I let my “western” sensibilities get in the way. We were thankful at the end of the day that we didn’t lose a tire or tear out the underside of the van. But that’s just a footnote to our day in Banjul.
Most Gambians are Sunni Muslim but, as in Senegal, people here are very open to all religions. Our guide said it’s not uncommon for children to choose a different religion from their parents. They are free to choose and their decision is accepted by the community.
Our first stop was the Albert market, a jumble of food and humanity. Pictures can only suggest the feel and smell of this place. The odors came from a mix of fresh foods and fish, nothing rotten here, just unfamiliar.
Selling fish and chicken…..
They divide all types of products into smaller amounts, putting them in plastic baggies (even tomato sauce) so shoppers can afford them.
We skipped getting up close and personal with the butcher but this cow and goat may not be so lucky.
This is called Arch 22. It’s a monument and a museum.
We took pictures from the balcony of Arch 22. No skyscrapers here. You can just make out the two lumps of our ship in the distance!
Here’s the post office and the shop across the street from it. Notice the address – just like any small town!
More great signs!
The roads to the Serrekunda market were an adventure. Thought we were going to be stuck in a huge mud lake that was the street. I can only imagine what the rainy season is like. The market streets were dry but here the shoppers share the road with vehicle traffic. Will had a close call with a car. Granted it wasn’t moving very fast but its tire rolled up the edge of Will’s foot as he tried to get out of the way. It was so crowded there was no where for him to go. Our guide gave a yell to the driver. That wasn’t in English.
The people are beautiful and friendly. When one of our party took a spill on the uneven pavement people hopped out from their shops to help. “You are in Gambia, you are Gambian now!”
Many of the men’s clothes are as colorful as the women’s.
We went to a batik workshop.
Cats are a little bit scrawny here. Maybe that keeps them safe from the crocodiles.
Crocodiles? Well, we couldn’t miss the sacred crocodile pool….
And the chance to pet one!!!
We walked through a forest to get here and there were at least 10 crocodiles laying around as we came around to the edge of this lake. I guess they are well fed as no one was missing any limbs….notice the little fish right next to this guy’s mouth….just in case.
The guys needed a beer after that. This is Gambia’s own.
And one more cat, here with a couple of colorful plastic pots. We saw them everywhere, all different colors.