Posted by: tim ellis | July 15, 2007

Thursday June 28, 2007

We are meeting our driver at 10:30 this morning, though this turns out to be 10:30 African time, as it is gone 12 by the time we get to the car. Our first port of call is Baboucarr’s compound where the scouts are mending the motorbike and stencilling numbers on to the back of the football kit.

From there we go to Tanji (also spelt Tanje) a seaside town where Baboucarr went to school. We see the fish smoking huts (and sample the smoked fish) and then go down to the beach to to watch the catch being landed before heading off up the beach. There are a number of boats drawn up on the beach, including one that is currently being constructed in the traditional manner. We are supposedly heading for another compound owned by Baboucarr, but after stopping at a beach bar to admire it’s whale skull, and share Cokes with the Dutch man who is financing it, and his two daughters, we turn around and return to the car. Back in the centre of town, we are surrounded by the local kids begging for pencils, or asking that we buy them a football for “only 50 dalassies (about £1)” – Somehow they seem to sense that Spook and I aren’t locals. I can’t imagine what gives us away!

A short drive off the main road takes us to the compound of the family who looked after Baboucarr while he was at school here. The compound has many laden mango trees, so we are treated to fresh mangoes. Time is getting on, especially as we are supposed to be visiting the Abuko nature reserve today. Apparently it shuts at 7:00pm, so Baboucarr decides we will just visit his compound and go straight there.

Baboucarr’s compound is further off the main road, and is empty but for a single building – currently empty. We leave there and go to another empty compound – this one has mango and lemon trees but no buildings. This second compound is near to the coast road (so is probably where we were originally going to walk to?)

We drive back through town and head towards Abuko, stopping at the junction where the Scouts were involved in the accident on Tuesday – more details emerge – it appears the driver was going to fast and tipped the bus over going around the corner. Just past the corner is a police station – the police from here attended the accident and assisted the scouts – the driver is still banged up in the cells waiting for Baboucarr to pay his bail, and the bus is in the compound behind the station awaiting collection.

Since it is now 6:45 we persuade Baboucarr to postpone the nature reserve visit until tomorrow as even if it is still open there will be no time to see anything. The upside of this is that we arrive back at the hotel early enough to head out to one of the local restaurants to find something to eat.

Spook suggests the nearest, an Italian, as he fancies a pizza. However when he orders they tell him they have run out of flour, so he changes his order to a steak. A short while later they return to say they have found more flour, so he swaps back again. Baboucarr adventurously tries the Gambian cuisine, while I equally adventurously order a steak!

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