Christmas (and New Years) in The Gambia

There were a number of activities that took place over the holidays. Here is a brief summary of some of them…

Sunday, December 21st

The holidays got well and truly started with David and Tracey throwing a “Graduation Party” to celebrate their being recently awarded their diplomas. A number of volunteers were in attendance to enjoy not only the good food and company but also the bouncy castle!

Frieda, Daniel and Iain (Photo Courtesy David Clamp)

In addition to the numerous BBQ foods (and cakes) provided by volunteers/VSO staff “The Thai Kitchen” supplied supplementary catering (much to the approval of all present).

Monday, December 22nd

Many volunteers enjoyed a rather late night at Alliance-Français-Gambienne watching the extended edition of “The Two Towers” which Steve received only a few days previously from the UK. Starting at 8:30 eventually the movie finished at midnight after which Lesley started singing “Happy Birthday” to herself…

Tuesday, December 23rd

Lesley held a small gathering to celebrate her rather unfortunately timed birthday at Safari Garden.

Geri, Morris and Others Attempt to Assist in the Blowing Out of the Cake

The Cakes (Lesley, How Old????)

Wednesday, December 24th - Christmas Eve

Steve, Philip and Christine spent the previous week planning a traditional Christmas Eve dinner with all the trimmings: turkey, stuffing, roast potatoes, cabbage, bread sauce, cranberry sauce followed by mince-meat pie for dessert. There were a number of other volunteers who also came to celebrate the holiday who brought other goodies as well including chocolates and sausages wrapped with bacon.

Sampling the Food on Offer on Christmas Eve (Note Lack of Light in Christmas Lights)

The evening was only partly dampened by the lack of electricity (leaving Steve a bit miffed due to the trouble he had gone to over hanging Christmas lights and setting up Christmas music) but the setting was well lit by the numerous candles placed throughout Ria's compound. It was also much appreciated that Steve England (former VSO volunteer in The Gambia) was able to join the group for this evening.

Another View of the Diners

Thursday, December 25th - Christmas Day

A number of volunteers spent Christmas day at Safari Garden where they were treated to (another) Christmas dinner both in the afternoon and evening. As per normal, Geri and (notably) Morris were up to the task and provided a feast for all those present (how did they get the parsnips?).

Saturday, December 27th

The afternoon was spent by a number of volunteers on a boat trip on the River Gambia planned by Kay. It was a relaxing number of hours that took in the southern part of Banjul as well as a diversion to Lamin Lodge were drinks overlooking the green surroundings were enjoyed by all.

The Eager Passengers Set Out

Lamin Lodge Awaits

Wednesday, December 31st - New Years Eve

New Years Eve was spent in many different ways by different volunteers. Kay had suggested that people meet at Westfield to dance the night away at Joker's but another group met at BoBoi Beach Bar (and Lodge) near Kartung on the southern coast. The buffet “Gambian” buffet was met with great pleasure along with the fire on the beach followed by fireworks at midnight. The sight of volunteers and other visitors to the hotel holding hands and singing “Auld Lang Syne” would have brought tears to any spectators eye (could they have seen the group in the pitch dark – though they certainly would have heard them).

Enjoying the Beach and the Fire

Thursday, January 1st, 2004 - New Years Day

I don't know of many people that remember much about New Years Day though there were a few volunteers to be found on the various beaches along the coast and, of course, those lucky enough to be at BoBois…

The Life of a Volunteer

Saturday, January 3rd

An English Tea -- In Africa?

The holidays ended on a bit of a sad note as a number of people met at Safari Garden for afternoon tea and to say good-bye to Philip who left the following day. The traditional tea included various teas (of course) and also a wide-assortment of sandwiches (cucumber and cheese, sardine, ham and tomato, banana and jam, etc) as well as cakes (including scones with jam, butter and cream).

Mr. Bell Will be Missed (Photo Courtesy David Clamp)