Day Thirty Six - Saturday, March 2nd, 2002 - Kanifing

I have been here for more than five weeks now. The house is really coming along. I still need a curtain for the bedroom and it would be nice to have some carpets for the floor (they look really bad without it – lots of unknown stains…). I have spent a lot of time out meeting other volunteers and doing various things.

Today, I walked with Freida south along the beach from Leybato to the Bijilo Forest Park. She had called me yesterday to see if I was interested. The walk each way was about an hour and a half (and I walked to Leybato as well). We had to cross a stream on the beach on the way – it was high tide so when we crossed the water it was well above our waists (we held our bags above our head so they did not get wet). I had to actually change into my bathing suit before this (using a local fisherman's hut) since I was wearing a long pair of jeans. It was a lot of fun. We passed by the main hotels in the Gambia, the Kairaba and Senegambia where the erosion is quite bad so they have massive sandbags holding back the ocean. It was strange seeing all the tourists living in their own little world, so much apart from what real Gambians live and experience. The tourist's world is so very narrow.

The part was very nice (20 delasis to get in) and we saw a lot of monkeys and birds. We walked all the way around it (about 4 1/2 kilometers we were later told). It was nice actually just chatting away to Freida about her work (she has not actually started teaching her classes yet since they are just coming back from their Tobaski break on Monday. She is getting along fine and getting the hang of buying food in the market in Brikama.

Freida and Local Wildlife Freida and Local Wildlife in Bijilo (Freida on Left)

It was a lovely day as we walked along the beach. We were hassled a lot by local Gambians selling something or another (we saw a group of children singing on the beach, the headmaster looking for donations for his school – he turned out to be a graduate of the school that Freida works for). It was a bit tiresome after a while, being mistaken for tourists (who have a lot more money than us lowly volunteers) but sometimes it was quite pleasant – we sat for about 15 minutes talking to a few people in their deserted juice bar waiting for them to squeeze the juice (we got the non-tourist price as well!) as someone played a bit of a tune on a drum off to the side. Very pleasant.

Of course, there are some things I forget here, and today was no exception as I ended up with a bad burn on the back of my legs and on my arms. I mistakenly believed that my skin had adapted – oh well. I learn new things every day and am really beginning to relax. It is another gloriously sunny day in the Gambia. Now, about those carpets…

Read about some of my subsequent adventures in the Gambia in my Gambia Journal Postscripts.