Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday seem to be a bit of a muddle, we spent time sorting out the car, catching up on washing and driving around looking at the shops. There are quite a few supermarkets here and it is amazing what one can get. The novelty value of supermarkets increase proportionally to the time you last saw one, especially a decent one.
I decided to have my hair braided with extensions, there is a lady called Jean who helps disadvantaged girls by teaching them beautician skills, I decided to go to her. I got there at 9am and the girls get started, as they are not all from the same tribe they have to speak English to each other, this meant I could understand the gossip, it was most entertaining. I had between 3-8 girls working on my hair at any one time and I was there until 5:30, the end results I am pleased with and now have waist length braided hair that weights a ton and a bottom that feels like cardboard.
Sleeping turned out to be fun as when you put your head on a pillow it feels like you are lying on a pincushion and so sleeping on my forehead seem to be the solution, yes I know the things one does.
We had dinner the other night with Geri and Maurice and got talking; turns out they were given some printing presses by the association of street magazines. They now need someone to help get this magazine going, the idea of it is to be like the big issue mag but for bumsters to sell. They plan to aim it at the tourist market. As Simon has a background in design and printing they offered him the job; it is very tempting as in return we will get accommodation. We have been thinking about the coming rainy season and would need somewhere to hole up as many of the countries we wish to cross become impassable in the rains. We were initially considering Ghana as it is the next English speaking country but this would not be a bad alternative at least with this we know what we are getting. But in the end we decide to press on and so decline the offer.
We met a bloke called Mark at the hotel; he has a campsite call Bird Safari Camp in Georgetown, a place up the river that is an island in the river. You get to it by ferry and from what he says seems a good place to visit as we are going that way and need somewhere to spend the night on our way to Guinea. We have not heard from Chris and Tanya or Louise and Conrad. We found out in camping Sukuta that we just missed them, they seem to be a few days ahead of us, and it would seem they spent longer in the Gambia than they planned.
Thursday morning finds us back in Brikama there to visit Robby and Ruth and to see if we can help with their Land Rover problem, they have an almost new Defender that has been of the road for a year.
So while Simon is at work I prepare some lunch, there are also lots of mangoes to eat straight from the tree. Daniel teaches us how to eat them without having to peel them first. These are excellent mangoes and juicy so the nearby tap comes in handy. Seems as if Landy is properly broke which is a shame as she is much newer than ours is oh well, a few spare parts (that we unfortunately don’t have) and she will be on the road again.
Friday morning we leave headed for Georgetown, once again it is pothole city and so a 3hour journey becomes an 8 hour one. In Soma (about halfway to Georgetown) we come across crowds running in the street, cheering and dancing, this is how we found out that the world soccer cup had started and that Senegal just beat France 1:0 in the first match. The people of the Gambia do not have a team and so adopted Senegal. Arriving at the ferry we meet a man who knows Conrad and Louise and say that they were staying at his campsite but had moved on, we promise to look at his site but say we are expected at Bird Safari as Mark was planning to come up the next day and we would meet up with him. Arriving at the camp the staff came out and said, “hello, you must be Simon and Nicole”, we weren’t half impressed that Mark had told them to expect us but it was better than that. Conrad and Louise had been staying there until recently and told them their friends would come and so they knew exactly who we were when we arrived. That night dinner was served on the riverboat, a most excellent way to end the day. Oh did I mention it started to get hot, well the more inland we drove the hotter it got and so one restless night lay ahead, us pouring with sweat finding it difficult to sleep.
Hot, very hot, too hot and humid, very humid, too humid.
Spent listless day waiting for it to cool down, nearly passed out doing the washing, Simon managed to install electric light into the tent (he is so cleaver) so now we can read at night. Did it cool down, well no, 41 degrees in the day and 35 at night, did I mention it was humid?
Dinner with Mark and he asked for help with a new idea so tomorrow I will be going to the market with Binta to buy ingredients to make a Gambian dish. Simon will be taking photos of the staff so Mark can update the website.
Sunday morning and I am ready to shop, we decide to go to town by boat, great idea now we just need the captain. In the end we give up and take the smaller boat. Binta and I go off to the market and she shows me how to buy the ingredients for a dish called Domoda (Peanut stew). She buys one or two of the needed ingredients from each stall so that they all get some business that day, sharing the wealth. While waiting for the boat I bought a fan made from a palm frond that has been woven to form it, best buy of the week! The trip to town and back on the river was beautiful with lush overgrown bushes full of birds and monkeys hear the monitor lizards but did not get to see them.
Cooking Gambian style: Armed with a panga go into the wood and cut several lengths of dry wood from dead branches on the ground. Then place 5 bricks on ground so as to balance two huge cooking pots on them. Feed meter (approx.) long sticks into fire from the side pushing them in as the burn, this proves to be efficient and economical. Rice is made in the one pot while the domada is made in the other, I get to use a mortar and pestle the size of a 2 year old toddler, please note that no 2 year old was used in the making of this dish and that this is only a size reference.
The best part of the whole expedition is that we got to eat the fruits of our labour as did Mark, Binta and all the staff at Bird Safari (Simon and I being the only so called guests at the time). I feel to mention at this time a marked increase in the availability of mosquitoes, Simon being chief recipient. His legs and feet have so many bites on them that he looks diseased, this in spite of being generous with the anti-mossi spray.