Ready for senegambia tour!

Trip Start Apr 02, 2006
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Gambia  ,
Friday, November 3, 2006

Just finished my one week reccie for the forthcoming Senegal and Gambia tour ... phew!

First impressions from the aeroplane window is how dry this part of West Africa is; how sprawling and monstrous Dakar (Senegal) appaers out of nowhere (wont be lingering there!); and lastly The Gambia green and flat with the wide brown Gambia River meandering through it.

I have my own driver for the reccie (a luxury only for a handful of countries); his name is Dembo and he is Mandinka tribe; the main tribe in The Gambia. Wolof are majority in Senegal so I need to learn the reetings for both ... and lets not talk about my nonexistant french!

This reccie has been early mornings galore, trying to stay awake and cram as much info into my head as possible. Some hotels are fab, others will require a bit of selling on my part to the group (location versus no electricity!). We stay in a few rondavels which are round huts with thatch roofs, a nice change to ubiquitous hotel rooms

Our mission of trying to solve a blown tyre problem lasted from 7am until 3pm, in the meantime we visited 3 villages; me hanging out with kids and Dembo with various local tyre repairmen to find the correct fit. Then negotiating for a new spare tyre and me being thankful Id changed too much money on the black market earlier!!

im a toubub, whiteperson and this is shouted from most kids as we pass. Cute but not going to do a Madonna or Angelina Jolie; me thinks

The highlight, other than the village tyre episode, was visiting Dembos family village. His uncle had died and Dembo will be working and unable to attend the final funeral rites to mark one month since his uncles death. I got to prctice my Mandinka greeting ceremony with Dembos aunts.

We were sitting in one of the rooms of the house (cement box, 2 beds with mozzie nets; curtains instead of doors, cement walls between rooms but donnt reach the ceiling) when an older woman came in and exclaimed;
"Oh! Dembo! Shoom-moh-leh?"

This was his sister and they hadnt seen each other for 45 years so it was a bit of a reunion!

So, ready for the first group to arrive. All will go well; inshallah!
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