Out with the Flow

We reached Banjul yesterday evening and went ashore for a celebratory something to eat in the beautiful evening light. There is a distant hazy atmosphere now and impaired far visibility. The sky is white, and distance has lots its crispness. It is a touch of the Harmattan winds which bring dust. Its not thick though and it brings a whole new colour pallet of chalky pastel colours. Its not so piping hot. It had been nice to have had so long in the county without it, but interesting too to experience it as we have read a lot about it and I gather its pretty common.
Now we are at the start of the next part of our Gambian experience : Victualling the boat and getting her, and ourselves, ready for sea again. We have come down to Oyster Creek, an hour and a quarter from Banjul, up a narrow, bendy, not always too deep, channel through the mangroves. Here we can hopefully get water, diesel and a ‘Geligelie’ (a bush taxi) to Serekunda and the towns nearer the coast where the bigger shops are for stocks and supplies.
It was lovely coming back down the river, nice to see some of the people and places we had gotten to know on the way up and also to find new ones.
I think one of our favourite places was Bansang. We spent a few days there when we turned round to come back west. It is a town rather than a village, but small. We felt it has such a nice atmosphere, very relaxed and contented. We felt that we were completely free to walk about and do our own thing without anyone wanting to be our ‘tour guide’ or to sell us anything. The people we did meet and talk to were extremely friendly and were just interested to talk. We anchored just off the main concrete pier there, often a busy scene with washing going on, horses drinking from buckets lifted up from the river and dusty lorries being washed to a sparkle. We enjoyed a very fun swimming session with various local kids we had got to know over the few days. Lots of jumping off Hestur in the WARM water (30 degrees) and playing in the dingy. The local style of propulsion in the fishing boats (apart from with the outboards) is a very elegant and proficient paddling, like a canadian canoe, or for the ferry passenger boats : sculling, so our 2 oar rowing with rowlocks was very funny for people, the kids and adults enjoyed trying this new technique on various occasions in our little dingy. It was in Bansang we saw the school Marathon. The people we saw race mostly ran the 10 k barefoot , or with football socks. In the evening we went to the fundraiser party which was held in the ‘Bansang Youth Centre’. It was raising funds to send the athletes to Banjul where they would race against other students from all over Gambia. It was a really lovely experience. The dance was held on some flat land behind the Youth Center, there was a flood light and some really big speakers. Apart from organisers, we were probably the oldest there, there were tiny children, right up to late teens dancing and running about. We went with the kids we had got to know. We stayed for a while, but tired after our trip to Basse that day we left, in the bright moon. We could hear the music from the boat. It was live music later on, sorry to have missed it, it sounded lovely. Lots of singing from the audience , it went on till 5 am!
Bansang like the other towns and villages (away from the coast) have electric in the morning till 12 o’clock, then the generators are switched off to save diesel, till 6 pm again. We met a really nice blacksmith called Bamba who lived and worked there. He had a great workshop he had built himself and he had a homemade welding plant. We have one of his little charcoal burners made to heat a tea pot up for Attaya ( china green tea , very good stuff, drunk sweet) He also taught me some Wolof words and phrases. There are more than 7 different African languages spoken here by the different groups, Wolof is the most common (after English which is the standardised language and the one taught in schools) . I was taught some Mandinka words in another place too! I have some way to go with these though, to say the least.
I have been doing more drawing and some painting. I have been taking a sketchbook and paper around with me while we have been visiting villages and going on walks. People who see me drawing are always interested, adults and children. The children often want me to draw them, so I now have a nice collection of drawings of little faces looking inquisitive. I usually draw on loose leaf paper so it has been nice to give some paper out to who I am with, and pencils and draw with people. This has happened on hill tops, by ferries, at market stalls…
We stopped in a few new places like Kau-ur on the way back. A nice market village where they were unloading boats with a cargo of reeds. Little donkeys were waiting by the slip way to transport the material. All the donkeys we have see here look very healthy and happy ( as happy as a donkey can look) same for all live stock, goats, chickens etc . At Kau-ur we also saw a production line of a few pirogues (plank boats) being built. They were using mahogany which grows here. We met Morrice here, a really nice chap. He showed us the village and also the ground nut warehouse there. Along the river there are several huge ground nut collection depos which were built in the 1960s. Massive warehouses with de shelling equipment (now defunct ?) these always have impressive concrete piers along side where the ground nuts would be loaded onto the barges and taken down to Banjul. At Kuntar we met a chap who works on a tug with some of these barges.
We stopped again at Tendeba Camp, where we had stopped with Ruth and Martin on the way East. We met up with Ib again, a really nice chap who works there. And who had taken us on a bird spotting walk. We had a delicious beer, the coldest ones in The Gambia! They have a brewery in Banjul called Julbrew where they make the namesakes beer.
So victualling tomorrow ….


6 thoughts on “Out with the Flow

  1. Hi Dan & Charlotte , We are so enjoying reading about you wonderful journey & adventures . Wonderful photos of The wild life in the Gambia . Lots of love Ant & Mon

    • Hello Ant and Mon, really nice to hear from you. Its so nice that we are able to share our trip on the blog, delighted that you have been following it. Happy Christmas and a Merry New Year when it comes! Lots of love Charlotte and Dan xx

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