I finally took my first trip to Africa. Starting with The Gambia. Why?
1. A wise friend suggested it.
2. It was within my budget.
3. The 6 hour flight seemed doable
4. There's no time zone difference (which means no jet lag!) and
5. Sun in January? A no-brainer (and also the first time I've ever been able to do so. Because, teaching.)
It was a good choice. My only real regret is that I didn't plan to stay for longer.
The Gambia is a long slim country situated on the West coast of Africa on either side of the Gambian River. It is surrounded by Senegal and has been nicknamed 'The smiling coast of Africa'. It's a hot, beautiful country whose Tourist industry is going from strength to strength. The population is 75% Muslim and 25% Christian. Everyone speaks English as well as one or more of 10 other languages including Wolof and Mandinka. I stayed at a hotel in Kotu beach near the capital, Banjul.
My reasons for visiting were personal and professional. The latter because my work using fabrics of African origin made me want to find out so much more about the countries they came from. I also wanted to visit a place that needed my money, if that make sense? The former? That's for another time.
My trip was exciting, relaxing, hot, eye-opening, life-affirming and lots in between. I learned a lot about The Gambia and, perhaps more importantly, even more about myself. It started badly as my luggage arrived 28 hours after I did (a glitch at Gatwick), but my experiences would fill a book and I shall probably dine out on some tales for a while yet. I'm so glad I went and I would love to return. But I would also like to visit and find out about many more African countries if I can. Suggestions welcome.
So I won't say much more... except enjoy the pictures!
Banjul National Centre for Arts and Culture is well worth a visit. It is a charity that, like all charities, needs donations to survive. It costs about 40 - 50 Dalasis entry fee. Less than a £1. If you're in The Gambia do go.
The above is a wholly personal account of my trip. Any facts or figures that are incorrect do let me know and I'll be happy to change them.
Thanks for taking the time to read this.