Wolof, Banjul and a little bit of action

13 05 2011

Me, Alpha Jallow, Dan and Yena at Alpha's House

Well it’s been a week since I touched down on African soil for the first time and I feel like I’m beginning to get used to the lifestyle here. This past week has been mainly about getting used to the culture and familiarizing ourselves with the area. The first couple of days were spent with our Gambian contact Alpha Jallow learning one of the local languages, Wolof. Alpha took us to Leybato, where under ocean side palm trees we were taught the Wolof script, greetings (a huge part of Gambian culture) and some useful phrases. The language isn’t too complicated so learning it in that low stress environment and by listening to the locals speak it, I’ll be fluent (passable) in no time! 

Alpha also took us out to the country’s capital, Banjul. To get there, we decided to use local taxis for the first time which was quite the experience. The cabs here are much different than back home as instead of hiring them; they all just have a set rate to get to a certain area. This can be convenient as there are constantly cabs slowing down beside you, honking their horns and yelling out where they are heading… however, you can probably see how this would get super annoying if you are walking down the street not looking for a cab. Nonetheless, it took two cabs to get to Banjul which is about 20km away from where we are staying and cost about 1 Canadian dollar. Once in Banjul we visited the famous Arch 22 which overlooks the entire city (see photos) and the crowded Banjul market, both must sees in The Gambia.  Before coming to The Gambia, I assumed that since Africa is a lot less industrialized, there would be a lot less smog. However this doesn’t seem to be the case. Keep in mind, I am just talking about the popular ‘tourist’ areas around the coast in Banjul, Fajara and Serrekunda, I’m sure it’s not like this up country. Although there are much less cars here, almost all of them have +350 thousand km’s and just spit out the darkest and thickest fumes. Between that and the smell of fresh fish in the market I was holding my breath for most of our journey through the city.

The next day, we went to the MoA (Ministry of Agriculture) offices for the first time to meet the staff. We had a brief meeting with the team that specifies on soil and water management where they outlined some of the projects that they are currently working on and where we would come into play. They all seemed quite enthused to have us there and from what they were telling us, it seems like we will have a busy and adventurous few months ahead of us!

A few days back; Yena, Dan and I were walking down the ocean side road to check out the fishing market when about 20 soldiers came running up the field towards us yelling and wielding assault rifles (AKs). As if this wasn’t enough, they all then dove and aimed at us. At this point I was getting ready to grab Dan and use him as a human shield and then we figured it out that they were just training and noticed the group of soldiers standing on the other side of the road laughing at us. They seemed to think it was hilarious… I wouldn’t agree. From here, we went to the Kachikally Crocodile pond to check out some croc’s (check the photo and video) and then called it a day.

Thanks again for reading,

Jaama rek,

John

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6 responses

13 05 2011
Dan

great post Johnny, except for the comment about the human shield…

13 05 2011
Scott Bagg

What an experience in just one week, keep the posts coming – particularly enjoyed the human shield comment haha

-All the best

15 05 2011
Jeff Day

Hey maybe they haven’t posted any signs but trust me, Don’t Pet the Crocs !

15 05 2011
John Iezzi

haha too late… its fine, these crocs were overfed and were movin about as fast as you after turkey dinner… but i’ll keep that in mind next time.

5 11 2011
sailu

through my observation on wat i read, is that u enjoyed your stay in the gambia.. Gambia is the smiling coast of Africa and friendly 2 all

20 11 2011
Marinus

Hi there, Beautiful site and great content and information,my compliments!

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