Attempting to Travel Back To Banjul During The African Union Summit

Gambia2006196 241x300 Attempting to Travel Back To Banjul During The African Union Summit
Jacob is not coming back with us to Gambia. He is having a whale of a time meeting various family members and so decides to stay a bit longer. We are a bit worried because we have no idea how we are getting back. We had a stroke of luck on the way to Dakar in that we got a ride the whole way. We know there is no direct bus to the ferry in Barra but Jacob is quite nonchalant about the whole thing and tells not to worry that he will take us to “transportation.” When I ask him about the “transportation” he is vague, and keeps telling me “not to worry.” How can I not worry with word liked transportation being thrown around and no elaboration on what kind of transportation? We argue about it and then I don’t bother asking him about it anymore.

We planned to leave Dakar on Thursday morning at 7AM, hopefully to get back to the hotel in Bakau for the afternoon, so that we will have time to go to the market and get some last minute bits. It started off well, we were up by 6.30, showered, dressed, had our morning French bread and ham and were set to go. Next thing I know we are messing around, watching music videos and waiting for Jacob to get ready. We end up leaving at 9.30. Still not too bad, we predict that we should get back to Bakau by 6pm latest.

The plan had been to get a cab, but no one will take the five of us (Me, Jacob, Laurent and a cousin that we just met that morning) so we hop on a bus. When I tell you we were on that bus for over an hour on what should have been a twenty-minute ride. I was sweating like I was in a pig on ecstasy and the bus had to keep pulling over to stop for “security” reasons. There were presidents travelling to Banjul for the African Union summit so soldiers would clear the roads for them to pass.

At around 11AM we get to this large car park where there are loads and loads of cars parked. I now find out how we are getting back. These cars are all travelling to Gambia, so we just need to find one and make a price. It takes us about 15 minutes to find one and then we have to wait for it to fill. They are all 7-seaters. The thought of sitting for the next 7/8 hours squashed up with a bunch of other people fills me with dread. Deborah and I decide to buy as many seats as needed to be comfortable as we have extra CFA Francs to hand that we did not use. In the end Deborah does not need any more seats as she bags the front one and I pay for the three back seats to myself. We wait another 10 minutes or so and in the three seats in front of me are put two men and a woman.

The car is going to take us to the border town Korrang and from there we will need to get another car to the ferry in Barra. The ferry with then take us to Banjul  and from there we will take another cab to our hotel in Bakau. We say our goodbyes and as Deborah hugs Jacob goodbye she says to him,

“I can’t believe you aren’t coming, we will have no one to translate for us, no one speaks English.”

Then from inside the car a voice piped up. The accent was African but with and Americanised drawl,

“I speak English. Don’t worry I can translate.”

This person turned out to be called Mary. She was Gambian but studying in New York City. She was going home for the summer. We were so lucky to meet her because she really looked out for us. As we hit the road. I feel like Lady Muck all sprawled out with my head resting on my rucksack, fanning myself with my legs sprawled out up high while the others were sardine squashed. I know if I was in their positions I would have definitely been envious. I tried to fall asleep so I wouldn’t feel guilty.

We reach Korrang about 4 or so. We show our PAY-PAS and then set about looking for another car. At this time I need to use the toilet again and a policeman directs me to where I need to go. I have my wad of tissue in hand and walk in the direction that I have been sent. As I am walking I hear a loud cackling behind me. I turn around and lo and behold it is a face that I have seen before. It is the laughing girl child who caught me screaming at the maggoty creatures only two days previously.

I cannot believe it!

She spots the tissue in my hand and her cackling becomes frenzied. I don’t understand what she is saying to her little friends but I know it has to be about how we met. (If you don’t know how we met click HERE. Now they are all in hysterics. My asking,

“What are you laughing at?”¬†

Only encourages the laughter.

I ain’t impressed. I spin around and head back to where Deborah, Mary and her uncle (one of the men in the car from Dakar is Mary’s uncle) are standing. There is no way in hell I am going back to the same place to wee in the maggoty cesspit floor. I eventually find some grass to wee on and all is well.

The time comes for us to secure a car to Barra, where we will get the ferry. It is great that Mary is with us as she is Gambian and they will listen to her more than they will us. She is also a master at the art of haggling. It looks like we may just make it back for the evening time. We get a car, pay the driver and then get in the car. The driver gets out. We wait ten minutes before trying to find out what has happened. We come to find out that the roads have been blocked because some African Heads are using the road because of the African Union Summit (Why I don’t know as it started on the 23rd of June and ended 1st of July) and the roads have been blocked off again!

The driver says that we should get moving in about 10 minutes. Those ten minutes quickly turns into an hour. It’s cool though because I am filming the crowds and women dancing (I think it’s a welcoming dance) and the time passes quickly. Deborah tells me that she has seen Ghaddafi is waving to the crowds, but I am crap with the video camera and zoom in too close missing the whole fiasco. I just about see his hand, which really could have been anyone’s hand We get back on the road and the whole way to Barra people are out on the roadside in crowds (out to get a glimpse of and welcome the leaders.)

Gambia2006184 300x225 Attempting to Travel Back To Banjul During The African Union Summit

We finally reach Barra with no more incidents. The only thing preventing us from getting to the hotel is a bit of water. The crowds at the ferry are HUGE! Mary tells us that we will probably not be able to get on the first ferry as it will be jam-packed. She then tells us this story about the time she got on an overcrowded ferry that lost control and missed the port in Banjul. We are horrified. They wouldn’t let it get so full that it would lose control, would they?

Of course they would,

“This is Africa, anything goes!” Deborah keeps telling me.

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