Saturday, January 12, 2008

English finally

Senegal was just a quick stop in a busy market town and crossroads called Kaolack. For us it was a good stopping point because we could go straight south into The Gambia from there. We did spend one day hanging out at the catholic mission chatting with or trying to avoid various touts as we deemed some of them obnoxious and others ok. The catholic mission was totally mosquito infested so we spent a lot of time everyday chasing them around :) Good thing we've started our antimalarials (doxycycline) already. The market is one of the largest in the region apparently with traders and goods from the surrounding countries. Gambia is cheaper for many goods so they come up that way. An interesting thing to note is that the goats and donkeys seem to have mutated into cows and horses out here. They have bigger animals, I guess that is a sign that the land is better and they have more fodder for bigger beasts. Senegal is one of the few countries where we can actually pull lots of money out of the ATMs so we have to stock up when we can. The machine in Kaolack didn't really like my card though because it ate it and I had to go the next morning to get it back! First time that has ever happened.
The road to Gambia was another bumpy one but although we had anticipatd possible difficulties at the border they were very kind (though it was the most thorough search of our bags on the entire trip). There was an immediately noticeable change upon entering The Gambia. The homes lining the road were no longer mud huts but looked a little more permanent and stable.
The Gambia is a bit of an odd case and the perfect example of the stupidity of the European colonization of Africa. The french controlled most of West Africa but the British with their superior naval power decided to take a little land of their own. They head up the Gambian river and started blasting whatever they could to the point where the french recognized that they couldn't defend themselves and let the British have the land they could cover shooting from their ships. And that is how the Gambia was born, totally without any real thought, centering on a river and only a few km wide and a couple hundred km long. It is the smallest African country by far and a little pocket of English in an otherwise very French area. I like it though. We had to cross the river to get over to the capital and it was pretty rough buying tickets. I really had to sharpen my elbows and fight my way to the crowd. You can totally get hit and brusied up if you really want to get up to the front and maintain your position. They have a long way to go before they understand lining up for things. On a more positive note, there are tons of anti-AIDS posters and ads everywhere lately. You can't say they haven't been warned.
I can finally talk to people and have a decent conversation with someone. There are a lot of tourists here that come for holidays on the beach. I'm becoming more convinced that my french isn't always as bad as the locals would have me believe because it is also their second language. The english here as a second language is good but you still meet lots of people that don't speak it at all well so I think there is also the equivalent in the french-speaking countries. Haven't really done much here yet though.


At 8:08 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Ammon, and everyone of course.
Do you find as you go further into Africa that the 'touts' and such lessen or are there the same number? are they as obnoxious as some of the earlier ones seemed? Where were the worst so far? How's the elbows from line crashing? By the time you are done there you will be ready to play professional sports. lol.
How's your Dad's arm? Now that he is becoming old and decrepit I worry about his frailty... beng 70isn't easy, it is 70now isn't it? I'm gonna pay for that.... LMAO
I would have though your arabic would be better than your french by now.

Anyways. it is always a relief and a pleasure to hear from you nut bars. I think in terms of the really big picture, what you are doing and the experiences you are having, may be of more use than anything I am.

Love and Big Bear hugs
The Bear


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