Leybato paradise found

Trip Start Apr 02, 2006
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Gambia  ,
Sunday, December 10, 2006

Paradise found!

We arrived at Fajara beach at 10 o'clock at night, ten hours after we arrived at the other side of the Gambia River. Ten hours of African waiting time, made all the more galling by other tourists bribing and getting ahead of us, all the more galling with the realisation that our money to Mr Kebbe had not been passed onto him, thanks to dodgy Mr Umar of the impeccably clean teeth who had made the arrangements.

To add to the gall of our sweat-drenched situation, Mr Umar called us whilst we were waiting and instructed us to give Mr Kebbe money for petrol. When we discussed the matter of money again with Mr Kebbe, it became clear that none of the money we'd given Mr Umar had been given to Mr Kebbe.

Relieved to say goodbye to the hapless Mr Kebbe and knowing that a showdown with Mr Umar is on the Horizon, we can't believe our luck when we find Fajara Beach 'resort'.

Resort is a termed used loosley, but it's a lovely guesthouse is set back from the road, down a dirt track, in a garden setting that overlooks the beach. Add to this the best steak sandwiches in the world and again, the Barra Ferry debarcle is forgotten.

At 3 am we are woken by something large and gambolling about in the roof. In our slightly dehydrated, sleep-deprived state we envision it between the size of a rat and a monkey and hope it doesn't come plunging through the flimsy ceiling as we have yet to receive our much promised mosquito net.

When we leave the hotel to wander up the beach we pass fruit sellers, ladies who entice people to the stand where they've painted their name to designate their 'spot'. Less enticing are the touts who stop us regularly to announce "my restaurant is just over there, when you come back..."

Leaving the beach to head into town, we meet the same taxi drivers and amusingly honest sand painting sellers.
"When you come back, maybe you want to look at my shop? I sell drug and sand painting."
Less amusing is the being stopped in teh street or on the beach by total strangers who demand
You give me dalasi. You give me book. You give me pen.
Adam observes, Why doesn't anybody ever ask for a punch in the nose...?
Black humour is the only way we can cope. These constant demands are confronting and wearing. We never know who is going to be the next to ask for something: random person walking past or someone with a job, a taxi driver for example. We can't help everyone and if Adam is tired of this after nearly 2 weeks, my patience at 7 weeks has worn decidely thin...

We befriend the Laundry Lady who is in tears nearly everyday because a feud she has with the dodgy internet cafe bloke. (His internet always breaks down, so I don't see what his status really is...) Adding to her misery is status as second wife and her need to work to support her son.

When she accidentally bleaches our clothes, we are relieved to find someone who is less sartorially concerned than us. Sanna Wally makes our acquaintance on the beach.

He approaches us with a big smile and a "Hello!" Sanna's right leg is a mere stick that bends backwards. Rickets I suspect. He asks us to make a donation and shows us a tattered piece of paper that other foreigners have signed and made token gestures of 100 dalasis (1). To our chagrin we haven't bought any money with us to the beach and hear ourselves sound false when we say "We'll be here tomorrow"

Sanna tells us that tomorrow he is going home to Basse Santa Su, about 10 hours drive from here, along the Gmabia River. But for us, he will wait an extra day.

The next day we are a little late and I'm fretting. Sanna finds us and his joy at the shirt and shorts is hard to take, he immediately dons the clothes and tells us how he can't wait to show his Mum, even though she is blind.

We ask him about the rest of his family. He has one sister who has a child, and a brother who "Is not right in his head". Sanna himself is very child like so how ill his brother must be, I can't imagine. Adam and I share a look that say, how much bad luck can one family have?! Dad disappeared, Mum blind, both sons disabled.

Sanna grins and laughs, insisting on a photo with Adam. When we make our goodbyes, waving as Sanna grins his way down the beach, I can't help but start to cry. My attepts to be tough, distance myself through objectivity and cynicism have been completely floored by the grins and gleeful laughs of this smiling lad.

It's time to bid goodbye to Africa, and onto the next tour.

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Where I stayed
Fajara Beach Resort
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