February 07, 2004

Mellow Border

The time had come to set off from Dakar, and make my way to Banjul, capital of The Gambia. After the last border crossing, I was not looking forward to this one, to be perfectly honest. I managed to oversleep (quite unusual, don't you think?), and therefore decided to spread the journey over 2 days. First stop, Koalack, a regular kind of town in the middle of Senegal. Not many tourists here, so no touts, yes! The journey was a good one, as I arrived at the transport garage at the right time to get the front seat. There was a bloke there asking me for a tip, because he showed me where the taxis were. In fact , Senegal has cardboard signs marking destinations, a great improvement on Mauritania. Therefore I told the man where he could stick his tip, well not those exact words..
The taxi managed to break down after 20 minutes, so we all got out, and the others stood round giving the driver abuse, while I looked at a tree hoping nobody would start a fight. Back-up came, and we were on our way again. 4 hours later, We hit Koalack and I went to sleep.
The next day started with two hours to the border post, and to my amazement, the taxi stopped, we all got out, got our passports stamped, got in the taxi and carried on. It took about 3 minutes. Excellent, out of Senegal no worries. Then the taxi stopped, but the road continued past a police hut. So, in I went.
'Hello', says the policeman, 'Where are you from?'.
'England', I replied.
'How long are you staying in The Gambia?'
'Erm, about a week?'
'A week, that's not long enough'.
'Ohh, well, erm, I'm not sure'.
'I'll give you a month then.'
'Erm, OK, Thanks very much'.
'You're welcome. Have a nice trip.'.
That was it, I was in. There were almost no touts either. Just 3 moneychangers, and one of them was a GIRL. The Gambia must be modernising...
The last leg of the trip, involved a 10km taxi ride, and an hour on the ferry. The taxi ride went well, but the ferry was horrid. It was SO rammed, I was wedged between 2 cars, and it was boiling hot, and some inane kid was asking me football questions. It also said on the ticket - 'We do not accept any responsibilty for injury or loss of life, except in extreme circumstances'. I'm not even sure what that means, but it's not encouraging.
Still, after an hour the misery was over, and I arrived in Banjul. The Ferry Guest House was right by the terminal, and I duly checked in. This I later regeretted, as it was a scraggy dump, and despite covering myself with mosquito repellant, I got eaten alive that night, and I am still paying the price.
Now I'm hoping I don't pay the price with malaria a bit later.

Posted by paul at February 7, 2004 01:51 PM