Friday 25 November 2022
This morning the old man sets off early for his day trip to Senegal. I am not accompanying him because technically, you need 3+ months on your passport to enter Senegal, which I don’t have. There was a time when I would have shoved a few dollars in my passport and hoped for the best. But I now consider myself too old to deal with the hassle of traipsing all the way to the border just to be turned away. Or worse still, detained for attempting to bribe a Senegalese official. So instead I spend a quiet day by the pool swimming and reading.
In the afternoon, I attempt to walk to the nearby mini market to purchase beer and snacks. It’s all rather creepy. When I’m with the old man, people follow us, but soon give up. But today one particular man will not leave me alone.
When my new shadow and I finally reach the mini market, it is closed. Some children appear and tell me the owner has gone to the mosque for prayers and that instead, I should give my money to them to buy a football. Their cheek amuses me, and I am tempted, but worry I will never shake my tail if I start randomly handing out cash in the street. So I return to my room, through the gauntlet of tour guides and taxi drivers, and spend an afternoon on the patio monkey baiting with my stash of emergency Oreos.
The old man returns early evening. He has been on a day trip booked via the Tui rep. I was shocked to find out that the rep was charging those without yellow fever certificates £10 to be provided with a fake certificate. Absolutely atrocious that a so called reputable company should be involved in the issue of fake vaccinaction certificates. And to think I was worried about the short validity of my (genuine) passport! The complete lack of morals shown shown by tour operator aside, he appears to have enjoyed his day.
They were taken by coach to the ferry crossing in Banjul. The coach was late in departing meaning that they actually missed their target ferry and had to spend an hour and half milling around the port.
After crossing the River Gambia by ferry, getting that all important (for the old man) passport stamp and producing their (genuine or otherwise – can you tell I’m fuming about the fake certificates) yellow fever certificates’ they were picked up by a second coach which took them to Fathala Wildlife Reserve. I say wildlife reserve; it’s actually just an area of scrub which they have cordoned off, then imported a couple of rhino (one of which subsequently killed the other), a few giraffe and other animals. After a truck ride round the park and lunch, they turned round and headed home.
TBH I’m not disappointed I didn’t go. As he is fairly late back, we head for the restaurant closest to the hotel; Indian Zaika. This is a fairly unusual occurrence – usually, when in a foreign country, the old man is insistent that an integral part of the experience is only to eat the cuisine of aforementioned country. So an Indian Restaurant in The Gambia would not usually be an option.
As it happens, the food is really good, in fact I’d go as far as to say one of the best curries I’ve ever tasted. And I’ve lived in Bradford and Pakistan, so that’s saying something!
Then it’s back to the hotel to watch the football. In Portuguese. Tomorrow Banjul…