Sunday, April 3, 2011

Banjul, The Gambia

We arrive early but when the sun comes up we see a strangely attractive town. It’s not very large because it’s on a relatively small island in the river Gambia. The country is called The Gambia and it’s about a quart of the size of The Netherlands, which makes it a very small country indeed.

Banjul awakes under a golden sandy haze. From afar come flat and sleek fisher boats. They beach where people are waiting to buy the catch. Below, the dock fills up with merchants and dancers and everybody is donned in magnificent and brightly colored garb. They’re tall and slender and move slow. A beautiful people.

Beautiful enough to entice Ludin for a walk. Something urged him to leave his monstrous Canon on the ship, but he left, dressed in his finest shirt and nose in the air. Two hours later he was back. He had no shirt on. Wide-eyed he paced up the gangway.
“No good,” he brought out, “They poor, chiep. They very bad poor.”
“What happened to your shirt?”
“I gave to that poor bastard.”
“Which poor bastard?”

It took Ludin a while to find his bearings, but over a cup of coffee in the messroom he told his story. Apparently, when Ludin was about to walk out the gate into the city he was stopped by two burly guards. They told him that the city was very dangerous and that he could only go out if they would accompany him. Initially Ludin was quite pleased to have an armed escort. The three marched on in the best of spirits but the spirits turned when Ludin found a city of misery, hopelessness and neglect.
“Only girl, chiep,” he sobbed, “Already have baby. And flies everywhere, and no eat.”

After that Ludin’s story lost cohesion. But from the fragments we deducted that Ludin’s guards, now suddenly armed with machetes, explained to him that they only guarded people on even days. On odd days they robbed them. What day is it now, they asked Ludin.
“It’s my birthday,” said Ludin.
“That odd,” said the guard.

Ludin then began to freely donate his money to the locals and even gave his shirt to one of the guards. The guards, not at all unwilling fellows, escorted Ludin safely back to the port gate.

“Give me your shirt,” we heard Ludin say to the storekeeper as we began to exit the messroom.
“I no have extra shirt, you bum!” the storekeeper replied, and life returned to normal. Later in the afternoon, the lines came in and we set off north. I may be mistaken, but I think I saw a beautiful, tall and slender man wearing Ludin’s shirt and waving a machete.

Dancers in Banjul, The Gambia
Dancers in Banjul, The Gambia
Fish market in Banjul, The Gambia
Dock merchant in Banjul, The Gambia
Dock merchant in Banjul, The Gambia
Beautiful ladies in Banjul, The Gambia
Banjul, The Gambia

1 comment:

  1. Gambia is a small country by size but it will surely give you a way too much affection and the number of attractions a traveller look forward to. Without thinking more just go for cheap flights to Banjul and have a great time at this mesmerizing and joyous destination.


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