Sunday, December 16, 2018

Cap Skirring, December 16, 2018

The beach is beautiful.  The sand is whitish and powdery like icing sugar-

Cows enjoy the beach too-

I walked to the main road and hitched a ride to town.  It's an easy enough walk but it only costs 35 cents in a cab.  It gives me a chance to visit with the locals and find suggestions for good restaurants.  I found one and enjoyed calamari with garlic and peppers.  Properly cooked calamari is not rubbery like the way we often get it at home.  It's dense, soft and delicious, and not mushy-

After, I tried to get into Club Med to use their pool but was denied entry so I walked around and came up from the beach.  I had a swim and look around and then walked back towards my hotel.  I settled on this view for the afternoon-

With a breeze and shade it was a great way to spend the afternoon.
We are off to Ziguinchor in the morning and if all goes well at the Guinée Bissau embassy, we'll cross the border.

P.S.  Andi doesn't look like she's having much fun!

Tumani Tenda, The Gambia to Cap Skirring, Senegal, December 15, 2018

After a leisurely breakfast, same as yesterday- great sourdough bread, boiled eggs and the best honey ever, we were on the road.  In about 45 minutes, we were at the Gambian border and crossing was simple.  It was equally as simple getting back into Senegal-

Along the way-

We drove through a lot of marshland wth oysters hanging from the mangroves.  They aren't the big white oysters but smaller blackish ones that when shucked, are more the size of a mussel-

Workers in the field-

At Cap Skirring, we found a place to park the truck and set up the kitchen.  The hotel only had four rooms so we had a draw and my name was picked!  I got the cheapest room - no fan and bathroom down the hall which is just fine with me!  I hitched into town looking for a SIM card but needed my passport.  I walked around Cap Skirring, looking at shops and I WAS NOT HASSLED!  Upon entering the shop, the merchant would say hello, can I help you?  I would say I was just looking and their response - okay!  They did not follow, they did not hustle, they did not push.  It was so nice!   

Looking forward to a nice day on the beach tomorrow!

Turnani Tenda, The Gambia, December 14, 2018

I had a great sleep in the wilderness on my board frame bed and after breakfast we went on a village tour.  We had to practice a few words in the local language because we were going to meet the Chief:  How are you?  I am fine.  How's the family?  Fine.  Welcome to my village.  Thank you.  We sat in a circle while each of us jumped through these hoops-

After we walked through the village and women were busy grinding cassava leaves-

And peanuts-

The two will be combined and put on rice.  Christians live beside Muslims in this 400+ inhabitant village-

Our next stop was the school.  There are thirteen classrooms with grades 1-9 for 400 students.  I like the Teacher Code of Conduct, especially number 5-

Homework is required.  No Viking time here-

Lunch was the same vegetables as the last two meals: carrots, wild tomatoes which are very bitter and green, as well as sweet potatoe.  They did change it up today by serving us fish.  It was very good.  This afternoon, I read a book, had a sleep and just relaxed.  Looking forward to moving back into Senegal tomorrow!

Sukuta to Tumani Tenda Eco Lodge, The Gambia, December 13, 2018

The SIM card I bought yesterday has already expired!  I think the woman might have lied to me about how much data she put on it.  All it means is that I won't have internet for a couple of days which is unfortunate  because it took quite awhile to get the SIM in the first place and I was looking forward to it.  Oh well.

We had a leisurely start because we only had 50 km to go.  It was refreshing to leave the city and the tourists-

and head into the country.  Along the way-

There're more and more farms and homesteads-

They love their soccer-

At Tumani Tenda, I scored my own room-

The Eco Lodge was first started in 1997 when the community entered a competition with a proposal to develop an ecological area to attract tourists to support the nearby village where seven extended families make up the four hundred or so inhabitants.  Activities at the lodge are seasonal and include soap making, cooking, fishing with nets as long as the boat doesn't have a hole in it as it does now, a village tour, a forest walk, oyster digging, tie dying, honey production and cultural dancing.  Besides beer drinking, I'm not sure what I'm going to do - maybe cooking and I'm definitely going to walk into the village.  If the dancers show up tonight, I will watch them too.  

The nearby river is a tributary of the Gambian but unfortunately the bottom is muddy - after all we are surrounded by mangroves-

I walked into the village-

And visited with some women who were separating the Africa Locost beans or monkey bread from the shell-

And then shaking them to get rid of the oowder.  The yellow powder is soaked in water, honey is added as well as lemon and it's a remedy for malaria and yellow fever.  The bean is boiled, salted and then it will keep for one month.  They add it to white rice-

The red bisa flower is boiled to make juice.  Some think it cleans the blood-

Further along I came to the school-

Kids attend the local basic school them move on to another village for middle years then have to move away for high school.

They are doing a good job growing food and raising goats.  Most crops are well fenced--

I visited with a Dutch woman who first came here 10 years ago for bird watching.  She fell in love with a local man and decided to stay.  She built two nice huts and returns every winter, even though she and the man are no longer together.  She doesn't speak the local language but the kids all speak English.  I can't imagine.  

After supper, which was pretty much the same as lunch - fried chicken, fried onions and this time vermicelli, rice was for lunch, local women and children came to dance.  They beat drums and hit wooden blocks together while singing and danced like crazy, moving their feet as fast as lightning going into the circle for only a few seconds before letting someone else show their moves-

I'm going to enjoy the peace and quiet and the privacy in my own BIG bed!

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Sukuta, The Gambia, December 12, 2018

I read my book this morning and then went to the family's home that's on the compound for lunch.  They have six children - four boys and two girls, and Mom and Dad.  Dad works as security during the night at the campground and Mom does laundry.  The kids are no longer able to go to school since the government changed and abolished free education.  One of the sons who is eighteen only has grade four.  The oldest daughter works as a maid.

I helped cut up onions and Mom prepared yassa-

ssing onions, spices and banga fish-

The spices are bouillon, salt, pepper, garlic and bay leaves-

The onions are cooking with a couple of chilis-

The rice is first steamed, just like making sticky rice, then it's put into a pot with water-

Then the cooked onions are put on top of the rice-

Everyone eats out of the same bowl.  I had a bit of a hard time with that-

After, I went back to Senegambia for a sim card in my phone and for wifi and beer.  

Some of the new and old money-

Looking forward to moving on tomorrow!

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Senegambia, The Gambia, December 11, 2018

I enjoyed my room until about lunch when I decided to go to Senegambia, really back to Gaya for the AC and wifi.  On my way out of the compound, I stopped to talk to Ahmadou, who wasn't home, and his Mom, to see if there was something I could buy her.  She seemed a bit flustered, shy and maybe embarrassed but finally said 'onions'.  Onions?  Okay.  So, I left to walk about 350 meters to get a taxi and visited with a man walking in the road who had just seen his spiritual guide because he needed advice about what to do with his musical career.  His shaman told him to just have faith and things would work out.  They prayed a lot together too he said.  Continuing on, whom should I meet but Ahmadou who was just coming home from the market.  I told him I wanted to go there so he took me.  I told him I was looking for onions so we bought about seven for 50 cents.  I was surprised at how few we got for the price and asked if there wasn't a place we could buy a big bag.  Sure he said and we went to a shop where I bought twenty-five pounds for $21.  Then I told him they were for his family.  He was quite gracious as we struggled to carry them home.  He called his brother who eventually showed up on his bike and he took them home.  Then Ahmadou invited me for lunch but I declined because I was on my way to modernity.  I asked if I could come tomorrow and if his Mom made yassa.  Sure he said.  So I'm going tomorrow around 11 to help his mom make yassa and to have lunch with the family.  He also invited me for tea tonight when I get back.  He headed home and I caught a cab for 43 cents which is the niconew price.  Niconew is how you say black person.  The little kids call us toubab which means white person so now when they call me that, I reply with niconew.  Anyway, the cabby was explaining that he has three wives and is searching for his fourth but that's all that's allowed in the Muslim faith.  They live in different houses and are fine being Wife 1, Wife 2 and Wife 3, at least according to him.  He seemed pretty arrogant so they're probably glad to get rid of him.  He only has five children so far. His Grandfather is responsible for developing Senagambia.  He pointed out all the land his Grandfather donated to the area and all the trees he planted.  He even pointed out his house.  Seems rather strange to me that he's driving a cab but TIA.  He also said that he can make anywhere from 150 to 1500 dalasi/day ($4.50 to $45).  He says he doesn't chase the toubabas, he relies on Gambians.  

I spent an hour or so at the Gaya - so nice and cool but only okay wifi because there were too many of us using it. They play a cd of Frank Sinatra, Tom Jones and Dean Martin over and over.  Oh well.  At least it's not pop.

From there, Leanne and I went to the beach where I had a few beers, swam in the ocean and pool, then made my way home for supper which was really bad.  It's unfortunate because every cook group tries so hard but sometimes it just doesn't work.  I got in a mini van to come home and there were 16 of us - 4 across in 4 rows sardines in.  The niconews get a kick out of having a toubab traveling with them and it just so happened I was sitting in the back and was the first to get off.  I yelled up to the front not to forget I was going to the camping and soon it came into view.  They pulled over and two people had to get out to let me out.  People from our group have been paying 100, 200 and up to 300 ($8) dalasi to get to Senegambia, when 43 cents gets you a priceless cultural experience!

 Now enjoying my room!  Looking forward to more Senagambia tomorrow after my lunch of yassa!  

Senegambia et environs, The Gambia, December 10, 2018

Happy Birthday to my Mom!  I hope she is having a great day!

We didn't have much to do today besides try to get some visas.  Michelle and I hopped in a cab with Nienke and Jono, in search of embassies.  Only Michelle and I have our Guinée visa.  Everyone needs that one, as well as Guinée Bissau and Liberia.  Most also need Nigeria but that one is turning out to be very difficult.  Many have filled out the forms, visited embassies and even paid the 200+ U.S., only to be refused.  As if.  Nigeria is probably like the rest of these countries.  A sh_t h_l _ - Donald Trump's unfortunately accurate description.  Take away the people and you have very little left.  Anyway......

We had a cab driver who bent over backwards for us but later I learned he charged $15 / person!  He took us to the former Guinée embassy and then found the right one.  He then asked the tourist police where the Liberian one might be and off to Banjul we went - 25 minutes away.  There he asked the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and we were told it no longer existed.  Yes, these are the kinds of struggles we deal with here on a daily basis.  Michelle and I got dropped off close to Guinée Bissau and Nienke and Jono carried on.  

While at Guinée Bissau, we joined the queue.  The woman handwriting the information into a big book and writing out the visas had made many mistakes with the Canadians's visas right before us so we made sure everything was correct.  4050 dalasi later, or $109, Michelle and I were set.  We've read that it's much cheaper in a town we'll be going through once back in Senegal so everyone else is waiting until then.  Whatever.  If it is, it is, and if not.... Either way, I have mine now.

After that, we hopped in a cab to go back to Senegambia, the tourist part of the area.  Michelle had  found an awesome restaurant called Gaya which has air conditionning, beautifull paintings on the walls and a North American menú.  It felt like I was in Saskatoon!  I had a couple beer, an awesome cheeseburger and fries-

We spent the afternoon on wifi and then left to go back to the local restaurant where we had eaten yesterday so I could pick up food for tonight's supper.  Back at camp, I was on cook group with Terry and Norm.  Supper was great but we had lots of leftovers.  When we have the opportunity, lots of people stay away and eat out - I can't blame them because I do it too.  After cleanup, I came to my own PRIVATE room and just enjoyed reading and being by myself.  Breakfast is at 9 tomorrow so I'm hoping for a great sleep and lazy morning!

Sunday, December 9, 2018

Sukuta, The Gambia, December 9, 2018

Asado, the young man who lives at the campsite, arranged for his friends to come with a large bus to take 12 of us on a village graffiti tour.  All I can say is TIA.  We went to Kubuneh, an extremely small village where the paintings are almost 20 years old and in great disrepair-

This is the one I liked the most- 

A vulture-

Funny faces-

The toilets and showers at the local school where there are about 40 students in each class-

The school is sponsored by Seniors Without Borders-

The best part of the day was seeing the kids-

The market was very sparse and I bought some bouillon for the yassa I hope to make someday with cook group-

We moved on to Galloya where there were better paintings-

The oldest house in the village is abandonned and covered in hearts-

Leaving Galloya, we were followed by many villagers-

Saudi Arabia put in this well over 20 years ago to provide drinking water to the village-

Back in Sukuta, we ate mafé again with lamb.  It still wasn't flavourful enough for me but it was cheap - $1 US.  I hope to get that for my cook group contribution tomorrow night-

The kitchen in the restaurant-

And the toilet, the most interesting so far, a raised squat pedestal-

I spent the afternoon drinking beer and wifiing.  Tomorrow we are going to the Liberian embassy to get our visas which are such a pain!  Hope we can at least find it!

Cap Skirring, December 16, 2018

The beach is beautiful.  The sand is whitish and powdery like icing sugar- Cows enjoy the beach too- I walked to the main road and hitched a...