Sunday, December 9, 2018

Sukuta, The Gambia, December 8, 2018

The Gambia.  So far I'm not liking it too much.  I should have known at the border.  There were lots of young kids with their hands out, begging at our truck windows for something, for anything.  When I was off the truck, they followed, often touching my shoulders or arms, begging and being able to speak English, asking for money or a soccer ball.  Then, in the Gambian offices, we Canadians were asked for 500 dalasi, or $13.45.  Victoria, from Norway, also was asked to pay but as soon as she asked for a receipt, it was okay and she didn't have to.  I wasn't that smart.  Today I left the camping compound and perhaps the only nice Gambian in this country, approached me.  His name is something like Abadabadoo - their names are ones I have never heard before and so I can't remember them at all.  He lives in the camping compound with his family - Mom, Dad and 6 kids.  He's 23 and finished high school but hasn't been able to finish his mechanic training because of the corruption in the country.  He doesn't work so was quite happy to take me to the market in search of a new battery for my phone.  We took local transport which means cramming into an old beat up minivan - so beat up that the side sliding door fell off and had to be pounded back on with a tire iron.  It only costs 8 dalasi (22 cents) to ride so it's a good choice. We walked a lot through the busy streets and while with him, I wasn't bothered, much.  If someone said something, he quickly said something back and that ended it.  Eventually we got to what appeared to be "technology place" and soon he was wheeling and dealing.  We moved on to a few stalls until he seemed satisfied.  I would pay 600 for the battery and 200 for installation.  Well, I'm not sure what happened but soon the battery was snatched away, there was a lot of yelling and the shop owner stormed back to his kiosk.  I desperately wanted my phone fixed so I negotiated with the shopkeeper and ended up paying 800.  Abadabadoo was very angry with the man, who is apparently from Nigeria and therefore greedy.  Anyway, the battery was installed and off we went.  We took another minibus to the beach and it was there that I paid for Abadabadoo to go home and with clear instructions on how to get home, I carried on.  I ran into April, Young Brian, Shelby, Hillary and Don in a restaurant with good wifi and that's where I sat for a couple of hours.  I didn't eat, but I could have had-

Oxtail soup I'm familiar with, but cow foot?

While there, a wedding procession went by, but it must have been the stag because I didn't see any women and certainly not a bride-

They swerved sharply as they drove very quickly down the busy street with men hanging out the windows.  They were shouting, changing and singing and some were waving big branches.  They went up and down a couple of times, gaining more cars in the process.  It looked very dangerous to me and I think they were probably drunk-

So, at the restaurant, I charged my phone to 100% and when I unplugged it, it was quite hot.  First warning sign.  Then I literally watched the battery lose power.  I wasn't very happy and hoped I could find the shop again by myself to get a better battery.  However, I still wanted to see the fancy hotels and the beach so left the restaurant looking for the water.  I found the Oasis Resort and it is lovely with many gardens, a pool surrounded by obese white people in bikinis - OMG it was disgusting.  I wonder what the thin Gambians think but more importantly, what the fat whites think and if Mexico all inclusives are like that too.  The beach however is lovely-

 and there are lots of places to spend the day-

I headed back to downtown, only to be constantly hassled "Hey Sister, how are you?"  They don't care, they just want you to come into their shop.  A man decided he would lead me to the mini van I needed to return downtown but we walked away from the street toward his friend the taxi driver.  I eventually found the minibus I needed and returned downtown.  Somehow, unless I've put it elsewhere, have spent a lot of money in one day, so needed to change some more.  In the first Western Union shop, instead of giving my 4900 dasali, she gave me 4100.  When I told her, she smiled and gave me the rest but it was all in 50s, so the one inch stack wouldn't even fit into my money belt.  I gave it back and took my 100 away in disgust, telling her she should be ashamed of herself and calling her a crook.  She kept smiling.  At the next shop, the man tried to give me a few bills that were smaller than the ones I'm used to so I refused those.  Who knows if they're real.  He too only gave me 4600 D. Crook.  I called him on it and he gave me the correct amount in the bills I wanted.  After a few minutes, believe it or not, I found the maze of tech shops and complained to the Nigerian battery man who took another one out of the 'special' case and argued with the technician - I wasn't paying any more.  Soon my 'new' battery was in and I decided to sit there awhile to charge it.  I got it to 50% and the phone stayed cool, then decided there wasn't much else I could really do.  The original battery was so good, until it died without warning, even though I bought it newly reconditioned less than 8 months ago.  It held a charge for what seemed like forever.  Now, I doubt it will make it through the night but at least I can shut it off when I'm not using it.  

In the maze of tech shops, I was followed, waited for, touched on the arms and shoulders, hissed at and told they loved me and that I was their friend.  I couldn't wait to get the hell out of there.  I found a mini bus and headed for home, only to learn I was on the wrong one but a transfer soon had me back to the campsite.  

Our main goal in Serekunda/Sukuta/Banjul is to get visas: Guinée, Liberia and Guinée Bissau.  We got here Friday night and of course the embassies are closed on the weekend so we're staying 5 nights for 2 actual working days.  I already have Guinée and we've now learned that the Liberia embassy doesn't exist and that Guinée Bissau is expensive and takes a day or two but if we wait until Ziguinchor, Senegal, we can get it for very cheap and in minutes.  So, that means I have nothing to do here at all.  

Supper was great and so was the visiting.  Tomorrow, we're hoping to go to a village that is filled with graffiti but we'll see if we can get it organized!  Not looking forward to meeting more hustlers! 

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