Sunday, March 20, 2011

Down Time in Gambia

The Gambia is renowned for it touts, but I found them worthless. Maybe it was the heat, but in Gambia, if a guy tried to sell me something and I ignored him or said no, he'd just stay where he was and forget about me.

"Hey, Missus, taxi? No? Oh well, okay."

They'll never make any money that way. Don't they know they're supposed to follow me down the road pestering me until I chew their heads off?

What I'm saying is that Gambia was pretty sweet. Well, aside from the disturbing sex tourism. There are men in Gambia for the prostitutes, but there are also oddly enough a lot of older women, many overweight, in search of hot young Gambian men.

"Don't judge. Don't judge. You don't know their circumstance," I'd recite in my head when I saw the oddest couples walking hand-in-hand along the beach.

I'm easily shocked. Like by the old white-haired British guy and the young Gambian woman who stumbled out of the next-door hotel room in front of me one morning, and when I ran into the British guy later, he said "We didn't make too much noise for you, did we?"


And that might have been harmless if there hadn't been a different woman every night, the last one yelling at five in the morning, having brought the police along for a visit. The hotel owners were at wit's end. This is a family establishment. How rude. Of the man who had no class, not the police. That's just odd. And rude too, I guess.

Anyway, I had mango juice, Internet, pizza and the hotel used an actual washing machine and clothes dryer, which was pretty exciting. The first morning a taxi driver named Yaya drove me around as I hunted for the Ghana embassy. I need a visa for Ghana. I'd run out of time to get visas before I left home when Mauritania took a month, and I have to acquire the rest en route.

Yaya was a good sport about it, but we never did find the embassy. Instead, I went to the Nigerian embassy where I learned that it would take a week.

I did need to sit tight for a few days, but not a week. I'd get it in Mali instead.

Right down the road from the Embassy of Nigeria is a wonderful bookstore, Timbooktoo. I arrived right after it closed for lunch, so I went around the corner to a small restaurant and ordered a sandwich while I waited for it to re-open. I fired up my Kindle and read through the chapter on Gambia. Hmmm, nature camps out by Georgetown. That sounds pleasant. Leave via this border here to Senegal, cross Senegal to Mali. Yeah, maybe. 

In the end, I stayed three full days in my little hotel room along the ocean in The Gambia. One day, I only left to eat in the hotel restaurant and once to swim. I had a lot of work to catch up on, and while I didn't succeed in catching up, I did manage to stem the tide a bit. My only interaction was with the hotel staff. "Did you guys hear about the super-moon happening tonight?" "No, where did you hear about that?" "On the Internet." "You've only seen the moon on the Internet?"

I e-mailed the nature camps inland at Georgetown, or Janjanbureh. The only one to e-mail me back seemed to be the nicest and also had wi-fi via satellite. And hippos. It's been a while since I've seen hippos. I booked in for two nights at Bird Safari Camp. I don't really know much about birds. They fly. They chirp. Sometimes they have pretty colors. But I was going a little stir-crazy in the room, and nature seemed like a good plan.

All I had to do was get Yaya to take me to the ferry, cross over, get a local taxi to the big taxi park, catch a share-taxi (for hours) to the Georgetown ferry, cross the river, and get someone from the bird/hippo place to come and fetch me.


Then I got an e-mail from Mark, the lodge...owner? Manager? The lodge guy who was nearby on business.

"There is a Dutch family here, six people in two cars. They've offered you a lift tomorrow. Be at Safari Garden Hotel by 9."

Wow. Dutch people rule. Mark rules. Birds, they're all right too.

I scrubbed off my filthy luggage and packed. I'd be happy to ride with some Dutch people to look at some birds tomorrow.

No comments:

Post a Comment