Not off to a good start

Trip Start Apr 02, 2006
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Senegal  ,
Sunday, December 3, 2006

Our joyful reunion was in try Banjul airport style: Him standing for two hours waiting for luggage in the steaming heat, me climbing up onto a post to try to see him, frantically waving through the crowd, pushing through the throng and me jumping like a monkey into his arms.... ignoring the backpack, day pack and cardboard tube for my precious artwork that I've collected. Any other man would have collapsed under the weight.

Arriving in the horror of Kololi and its bar street amassed with young Gmabian men and their middle-aged, sunburnt European girlfriends, Adam was as impressed as one can be. GTS Restaurant and my friends there made Kololi seem less like the sex tourism-crappy bar area, at least until we walked back to our dodgy hotel.

But the Barra Ferry was Adam's first real taste of Africa, and mine also because now we don;t have the all powerful travel agency arrangements to smooth our way. Instead we have the sweet, but rather downtrodden, Mister Kebbe as our driver.

In the short time we have here, local taxis are not really an option. And given the propensity of these vehicles to break down, they aren't particularly enticing.

We started bright and early, lining up at the ferry crossing at dawn.The infamous Barra Ferry crossing from Banjul on the south coast of Gambia River to the north bank, has improved in recent times... according to rumour.

Usually the routine is that those who can pay a bribe can get across fairly quickly in under two or three hours after lining up. We arrived bright and early, lined up and then Mr Kebbe paid a bribe, but not enough to get us through straight away.

No problem, we can wait for the second one. We can get into this African groove.

Seven and a half hours later our vehicle is on the ferry. I'm am not grooving with anyone, least of all Mr Kebbe.

Even more galling, today is a Sunday and the lebanese felefel shop is closed. Other than a baguette of mystery meat there is little choice. It's proving to be a challenging day, not least of all because we are hungry, hot and fed up.

We change our plans to avoid driving through the night, and stop at Toubacouta, a village of souvenir shacks, a butchers shop, a telephone and not much else.

Le Pelican resort is a step into Europe and it's sports fishing scene here in teh Sine Saloum Delta. Beautiful bungalows with thatched roofs and upmarket decor, Le Pelican couldn't be further from our Barra Ferry misery.

A swim, delta-side meal and a few ice cold beers, and we are back in the groove.
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