Saturday, July 02, 2005

Gambia no problem

I’m back in Bissau and Gambia was great! Last time I wrote you form Signicure, Senegal. I went there hitchhiking with Rebecca. Great adventure! Can you imagine two white ladies hitchhiking trucks and sitting on the back together with sucks of rise? Well I can, but they obviously couldn’t so they would stop also just out of curiosity. I stayed in Rebecca’s house for a night and than I continued on my own to Gambia. Public transport is incredible, as I expected. Arriving to the station there were 5 people immediately being waiting for me and persuading me to go with them. They are filling in their cars made for 7 passengers and as soon as they manage to find them, the car is ready to go. In Senegal the transport is a little bit more organized than in Guinea Bissau meaning if you come first, you can have the seat in-front, if you come second you can have a seat at the window in the second row and so on. In Guinea Bissau, there is no seat order. I bought my visa for Gambia at the border (I knew I could, 300D). The car stopped at Salety (Signicure – Salety, Fcfa 2.500), from where I took another one to Brikama (Salety – Brikama, 40D), from Brikama to Serakunda (10D), from Serakunda to the capital, Banjul (6D). I actually wanted to go to the seaside, maybe to Tanji, but I changed my plans immediately after 10 people surrounded me in Brikama, persuading me to go with their taxi (I couldn’t even check it out if there is a bus going there and what the real price is), so I just said Banjul, to the first mini bus that passes by. There was a boy, which followed me all the way, from the minute I got out of the car, until I entered the minibus. He would of course want to have my address and my telephone number, because he considered himself as a friend of mine and I should give him money, because he helped me and so on. The same story continued all around Gambia (From this point of view Guinea Bissau is much better). They started a conversation with hi, how are you, where do you come from, what is your name, where do you live and so on, which is quite nice if you imagine how we (the Europeans) pass each other on the street without even saying hi. If I responded I couldn’t get rid of them for a looong time. If I just said Ok, thank you and continue walking without answering to the following questions they said “O Gambia no problem” “I just want to be nice” and so on. Yes, Gambia no problem. I guess here is one of the rare places on earth where Catholics and Muslims marry each other and they are big friends with each other. Everything is no problem, reggae music on the radio, Jamaica style of dress, joints and so on. I stayed in Banjul for a day (single room 350D) then continued to Bakau, which is very close to Banjul, just at the seaside. I didn’t swim in the ocean, no one would, the beach is not very nice as they advertise it in tourist agencies all over Europe, but you have to know now is low season. Than I found out my camera finally got to Portugal and I could pick it up in 4 days time if I wanted to have at least some memories, so I decided to shorten a trip and go back to Bissau. (Of course I didn’t get it, because I asked Helena, who should take it to the airport of Lisbon, to be there at 9, but unfortunately the check-in was already done by that time (the plane took off at 9.45), so she was unsuccessful and I am without camera :-(
But to continue, I left Bakau just before it started to rain. Until now, I must say I was quite lucky with the weather. The rainy season should have already begun mid may, but it only started now. When it rains it rains very heavily and the nature just afterwards it stops is amazing! Even if the drive is quite long I enjoyed it a lot. I waited for the car to fill in for around 2h in Brikama and got all wet and dirty. Bleeeck. There is a market just besides “bus station” and I cold have a walk in between the little streets covered with water. Ladies were still selling things, no matter if the water was reaching the products. Hygiene on top low. I wanted to buy some peanuts (they are very cheap here) but the owner was just not there, he went praying (Muslims pray 5 times per day …. I was once in Bakau woken up at 5 o’clock in the morning by their loud calling voice). But this is already normal for this world; I just pointed it out because I want to say Africa is safe. I haven’t heard anyone being robbed here. In Bissau some foreigner remarked they are too lazy to rob ;)