So after Dakar it was time to head on my southwards journey towards The Gambia. The husband of the family I stayed with said he would give me a lift to the "Gare Routiere" ( basically, the generic name for the place where bush taxis leave from) at 7.30 in the morning. So we got into his shiny new Toyota, and would you believe it, the battery was flat. After arranging further transport I arrived at the Gare Routiere at 8.30, which is actually quite late, as the taxis only leave when they are full, and anytime after 8 means you usually have to wait a while for it to fill up. The wait wasn't too long however, and at 9.30 we were off towards the Gambian border. I arrived there 5 and a half hours later , and quickly negotiated my way through customs.
From here I jumped into another shared taxi for the short journey- half an hour- towards the port town of Barra from where I waited half an hour for the ferry across the Gambian River to the capital, Banjul. The ferry across was painfully slow, it took an hour and a half. Once I arrived in Banjul I managed to get a shared taxi to the Kingfisher complex where I had booked to stay for a few days. Unfortunately, I had Gambia's worst taxi driver who didn't actually know where it was, despite the fact he said he did. Anyway, I eventually reached the Kingfisher at 7.30 , some 12 hours later. The taxi driver came in and actually demanded extra money for some reason, now because it's a nice quiet set of apartments I didn't say anything, but if it was just me and him I would have told him to get lost in no uncertain terms. He should have been giving me a bloody refund!
It doesn't feel too much like Africa here, as it is just a string of resorts with loads of package tourists, and it seems, at 43, I am way too young to be here. I have decided to stay until Monday however, and just relax as the place I am staying is lovely. I took a walk along the beach today, which isn't the prettiest, and I have lost count of the amount of guys who have told me that they have just had their first child, but alas their wife has breast cancer, and is therefore unable to produce milk, so if I could just lend them a fiver for milk powder then they will gladly come to my hotel tomorrow and refund me! How this starts is by them coming up to you and saying that they work at your hotel, and that it's their day off.
This place really isn't my cup of tea, what with all the tourists, but, as i said, the place I am staying is really nice, and I have found a good place to use WIFI. The food here is also much cheaper than Dakar, where I would pay a minimum of one pound for a coke. I have finally managed to get pics uploaded at a half decent speed, so all my Mauritanian pics are now uploaded, and by the end of today I expect to have all the Senegal pics uploaded , too.
On monday I will head out of Gambia into Southern Senegal ( Gambia is surrounded by Senegal) , and to the town of Ziguinchor in the Casamance region, which has many mangroves. I am going to pick up my visa for Guinea-Bissau here ( I hope), and might possibly take a trip through the Mangroves, before going into Guinea -bissau on Tuesday or Wednesday. Electricity will be an issue there so it's quite possible that I may be offline for a few days. I forgot to mention that upon arriving at the Kingfisher Apartments I was greeted by a woman name Colette- I worked with her 25 years ago in Callander. It's a very small world indeed.
I went out for a few beers in the tourist zone last night, and, as I was walking back along the road at midnight, a guy approached me from behind on a bike. He got off his bike and started walking with me, and, unlike most of the guys around here, he wanted nothing, just a chat. Turns out he is from Sierra Leone, as many are here, and he was telling me how he was orphaned during the war there in the early nineties. He then proceeded to say that he was 11 when it broke out, and that he was asked to be a child soldier, but refused, although he did end up having to carry the ammunition for the soldiers. He now worked in a gym here which you could tell as he was one muscular bloke. Anyway, chatting to him was far better than sitting surrounded by other pinkies.
It's been strange chatting in English instead of French, but I think I prefer being in the countries where I don't speak the language, as it is far easier to get rid of the hustlers by pretending that you don't understand.
Okay, that's enough for now. Will update when I get a chance.