Up early, jumped the Shogun - it worked! Said our goodbyes to Michelle and Declan, they have been the most wonderful hosts. I left a beautiful big bright green first aid box and kit with them (Paul knows where it came from!! .. and I left the other one at the school). I also left my camping kit for them, well the tent was for Cherno actually, but there was allsorts of other bits too. Edrissa came with us initially as (remember Sett Settal from last week, which was cancelled?)well it has re-instated - today. This means that no-one is allowed to travel on the roads until 1pm. Bollox, we have to reach Banjul in the daylight as we have no power for lights. Edrissa knows all the short cuts through the rice fields etc so we can dodge the police control points. Boy did we dodge them or what, it got a bit hairy at times but he got us safely to the one car ferry (and I remembered to leave the engine running). It was terrifying early on as we were coming through the bush, this thing, it was a man dressed up completely (couldnt see his face) in what looked like brown tied rags, dancing and bouncing around carrying two massive machettes. He was with some other men, he was doing an aggressive style dance right up to the bonnet of our car. There was a short altercation between the other men and Edrissa then they let us pass. Damn that was very scary, apparently it was a celebration of some lads circumsition - I hope they didnt use those bloody great big knives! Once on the other side (2 hours after leaving)we waited for David, Lesley and their taxi driver Jarra to arrive. They were coming on the foot boat as the taxi had been left on this side of the river (saving them the 2 hour drive)it is a quick boat ride for them.
Whilst we were waiting for them David Marsden (Stellas husband)turned up. I had never met him before, I had my head in the open bonnet, he came straight over and introduced himself and offered to jump start us. Whilst we were talking, some of the locals had put some calves in a boat and were taking them across the river. The mother cows were so distrssed by this and tried to swim after them. The cows were drowning in the river right in front of us. It was so awful. David was very angry and said that Stella had campaigned for years for his to stop. I looked around for Stella and the rest of the family but I couldn't see them. David, Lesley and Jarra arrived and also had a little chat with David Marsden before he got on to the foot boat and went across the river. We jump started the Shogun with the taxi. "Where's Stella and the others?" Enquired David and Lesley " I dunno, maybe they are following"
Again, we were dodging the police control points, we actually ended up at Wasse ancient stone circle as a result of one dodging session. The whole journey was a total nightmare, stop start all the way. When we got to Farrafenni, David said he was off to buy a new battery as his donation to he scooters trip. I insisted that I would pay him back once on the coast (as I was now completely pennyless). It was total jubilation when he and Jarra managed to find a brand new suitable battery with about 20 minutes, it a good job we were at a large town at the time. The rest of the journey was wonderful (despite ALL the control points) - we flew. We got to the dreaded Barra ferry and fortunately they security guards recognised us from the Scooters trip and ushered us through quickly - no brides even asked for. Just before we got on the ferry I saw Jarra, I was so grateful to him for his help but I had no money to thank him with. I gave him my MP3 player, he was delighted - so was I.
As we got to Banjul it was just getting dark, the batterry light had come on. We made it ok back to Phil's though, arriving at 20.15 hrs. That's 12 hours on the road uuurrrggg!