After spending the night in Barra, a border/port city in Gambia, we parted ways with the others we’d carpooled with and took the afternoon ferry to Banjul to begin our exploration. Our first stop was at Koko Curry in Fajara. We were told it was the best Indian food in all of West Africa…it didn’t disappoint! When we finished pigging out, we headed to our couch surfing host’s family compound in Sukuta. For those who have never heard the term, a family compound is a designated area of land where the entire extended family lives. So in addition to living with his parents and siblings, our couch surfing host also lived with his aunts, uncles and cousins. Many West Africans refer to their first cousins as siblings because they are all raised together.
This particular family compound was built by our host’s great grandfather and all the amenities were kept original, therefore the “toilet” & “shower” were in a sectioned off area behind the house, almost like a shed. I use quotation marks because the toilet was actually a hole in the ground that you squat over to handle your business and the shower was a bucket of water and a bar of soap.
We spent our first evening playing with the kids on the family compound; there were 7 of them ranging from 3-10 years of age. Only the kids that were already attending school spoke English, the younger kids spoke a Gambian dialect called Mandinka. Even with the language barrier, communication seemed easy. We sat outside in front of the fire and the kids danced and sang songs, they even sang happy birthday to me! The next day we visited Kachikally Crocodile Pool, hung out with some monkeys at Bijilo Forest Park and watched the sunset at Kololi Beach.
The following morning we ate a delectable meal at a Sierra Leonean restaurant before heading south to Kartong, where we checked into Boboi Beach Lodge and slept in an oceanfront tree house! It rained ferociously that night and although we had a roof over our heads, we didn’t have 4 full walls so we were forced to sleep in our raincoats, but the experience was beautiful nonetheless. The next day we began our daylong journey back to Senegal. We stopped in Sanyang to check out the beach, I got charged an erroneous re-entry “fee” at the border for being Sierra Leonean and I made it back to Dakar just in time to catch my flight back to the States. Overall it was a fabulous whirlwind of a trip!