Posted by: tim ellis | July 15, 2007

Saturday June 30, 2007

The road will be closed this morning for some sort of cleaning initiative, so we are first in the queue for breakfast when service starts at 7:00 am. Then, all dressed in our African finery, we set off for the camp house, where we are met first by the local nursery school singing to us, then the National Scout Band and the 8th Kombo Scouts who lead us down to meet the whole village. After we have shaken what seems like everyone’s hand, we are taken through to the seats of honour to watch the band perform and the scouts drill. We are then asked to inspect the parade and give permission for the parade to fall out.

More entertainment follows. First the scouts play a game where one team forms a huddle while the other team take it in turns to leap on top, scramble across the huddle and back flip off, while holding on to the waist of one of the huddle, without falling over. When all of the team have had a turn they change places. The team with the fewest “fallers” wins.

Next up is a set of tugs of war between various scout teams, then the villagers put on a play and dance, followed by a scout play (a not particularly subtle advert for the bakery). The Imam then leads prayers, and we give our vote of thanks and we proceed to the opening of the “Janette Mansa Bakery House”. Just when you thought the Gambia couldn’t get any hotter, you go into a bakery… Everybody piles in, there is bread to sample, and on this evidence they should do a roaring trade!!

We spend the next few hours relaxing, eating mango, and touring the camp house, the borehole, and the houses of Baboucarr’s mother and uncle(which involves tasting more local produce – cassava root and yellow and red cashew fruit).

There are supposed to be two football matches once the main heat has died down, but the scouts still haven’t eaten. We are also fed (potatoes and omlette), and eventually there is time for just one game. 8th Kombo vs the Village. The Scouts are hoping to avenge a defeat last week, in their new Arsenal strip, but they are outclassed and outrun and end up losing 2-1.

The light is going as we get back to camp, and despite the entreaties of the scouts for us to stay the night, we wait for Baboucarr to clean up after his football game., While talking to the local teacher, we are informed Baboucarr has lost his phone and hotel key-card. We find his phone in the car, but he had his key-card in his pocket earlier, so it must have dropped out, probably when he changed. We can’t find it and decide we will have to get a replacement from the hotel, and set off, only to be chased down by Modou on the motorbike – they managed to find the card (not bad in the dark!)

We are stopped by an armed police checkpoint on the way back to the hotel – until they see Spook has a neckerchief on, and decide as scouts we must be OK and wave us through. (Baboucarr says many of Gambia’s police and army are ex-scouts – more a case of “old troop neckerchief” than “old school tie”). It is so late by the time we get back that we opt out of any further meals today – especially as we need to hit the 7:00am breakfast again as we have two football matches to get in tomorrow.

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