Last week I decided to walk from the University of the Gambia campus in Brikama, back to the compound in Old Jeshwang. Picture the scene is Forrest Gump when Tom Hanks says “For no particular reason at all, I decided to go for a run”. That was how I felt about a 15 mile trek from the University, home. So, I took a bush taxi down to Brikama, and started my journey.
I enjoyed my day thoroughly. I spent time just wandering through small communities and talking to folks. A couple of particularly friendly women who were tying firewood asked me to sit down with them and it was lovely. Between my broken Wolof and their broken English, we mostly discussed our families and I told them about going to school at UTG. They encouraged me to learn Mandinka and sent me on my way.
Many people (men) asked if they could follow me, which became exhausting after some time. As strange as I look walking around Fajara, Jeshwang, Serrekunda etc., about half of the road to Brikama runs through more rural communities…everyone was confused/curious as to why a toubab was strolling around. I actually got to hang out in a school yard around lunch time because all of the tapalapa (sandwich) ladies had piled in to sell to the students. It seems that lunch break in the Gambia consists of a lot of running around, fighting over food, and yelling (quite similar to recess in America).
I took lots of photos, and spent the day enjoying the Gambian sun. Of course, I was beat after after my walk, but it was one of the most pleasant days I have had here.
This past weekend we headed up to Janjengbureh (also known as Georgetown), and spent quality time with nature. The Janjengbureh camp had no electricity and running water…sometimes. We went on an all day boat trip and cruised all over the Gambia River. We saw hippos, all sorts of birds, baboons and monkeys. I loved it- the water was beautiful and the deck on the boat was perfect for tanning until it got too hot, when I retreated to the lounge.
Some of us also got Fula scars. Many people here have tattoos or scars on their faces, arms hands etc. The scar/tattoo lady happened to be in town when we were- so we rolled up to her compound with a couple of local guides. She spoke only Mandinka, so we were reliant completely on the locals who were helping us out. We bought some clean razors (similar to the tip of an exacto knife), and then prepared ourselves. She cut three lines into my back, and immediately filled them with peanut ash so that they would be blackened. These scars are to protect from evil spirits, which are common here in the Gambia, so I am of course relieved that I am no longer susceptible to bad things.
Obviously being a baby
The finished product
Amy opted for her shoulder
Dylan with two- one on each shoulder
With Fatmata, our scar artist
Looking forward to seeing many of you soon- just three weeks until I return!