So yet again so many things have happened since I last wrote. Senegal got a new president, I went and checked out the only safe country that we can travel to and we finally went to the Croco Parc (We've been planning to go there since we first went past the sign in about December).
The second round of elections ran very smoothly, we went and filmed a little again but it was pretty much the same as last time but with two candidates instead of 14. As we were on spring break we were eager to get away and be tourists for a bit. Early the next morning we headed to Kaolack to meet up with the boys. The plan was for me and them to go ahead to the Gambia while Ciara went to Dakar with Babs to meet her sister. They were meant to come and join us on the 29th but because of complications in Dakar they only arrived on the 1st. I say complications, that is a light way of saying it but Ciara got mugged as she got out of the car in Yoff to get a taxi to our reps house.
The journey to the Gambia started early on the 28th as we knew it might take a while to get through the border control etc. In actual fact we arrived in the early afternoon and then chilled until the girls from Ziggi came to join us. We got hassled by some guy that pretended to speak German but in actual fact I didn't understand a word he was saying. We stayed in Bakau for four nights, just waiting for Ciara to get in touch with us. (our phones stopped working in The Gambia, we could only text but that turned out to be relatively expensive.) We were having a good time checking out the Crocodile Farm, biking on crappy bikes and eating supernoodles. The Gambia is full of British tourists/residents. They live there for half the year and work in the UK for half a year. This means that the local supermarket stocked things like HP sauce and other things that I didn't expect to see over here. On Friday 30th around about 3 in the morning I got a text from Amadou saying I needed to come back to Joal because Ciara didn't have her papers. I decided to sleep on it and then buy some credit for our Gambian SIM so I could give her a call. I never got through so I called Amadou and then I found out that Ciara had been mugged. I was weary about heading all the way back to Joal because I knew she was still in Dakar. In the end I spoke to Gill and Ciara and they didn't think it was necessary to come back has Ciara had luckily found her passport and could come to the Gambia after all! When we found out they were coming we booked another place to stay Tumani Tenda Camp. (if you are ever in the Gambia you should definitely go there, it is beautiful). We travelled there and as we were getting of the bush bus, there was a big commotion and the president of the Gambia drove past. It was his birthday so he was throwing biscuits out at the kids on the side of the road. I even got to try some of the presidential biscuits as we accidentally bullied a local into giving us some. (we thought he worked at the camp so when we said we never got any biscuits and he kindly offered to give us some of his, we accepted.) After two nights at the beautiful camp we went to the Senegambia strip. I have never seen so many Toubabs in one place. It was nice but too touristy for me. We did go out clubbing one night though which was good fun. After the Senegambia strip we (us girls) decided to go to Tanji so we could go camel riding. We stayed in an alright place but the beach was amazing. The Gambia was cold though, could have done with a pair of jeans that didn't have a hole in them. After Tanji we headed to Banjul, and then headed on home after staying a night in Princess Diana Hotel.
The travel back to Kaolack was a bit of an adventure. We waited 3 hours for a ferry and then when we finally got on board there was no seats left so we were standing packed. Finally the ferry left. We went about 5 minutes and then it turned around and went back into the dock. Apparently one of the engines was broken. We decided to wait on board for a little but then someone near us said that all the other ferries were out of order. We got off. The debate was then whether to stay the night again in Banjul or whether to get a small fishing boat (literally a big pirogue) across the river to Barra. To get onto the boat we were lifted onto a man's shoulders and carried across. There was almost a mini fight that broke out between the carrier men because they all wanted to carry us. A policeman and a soldier came in the end and sorted them out. I stupidly was wearing my blue skirt which I had to hitch way up to get onto the guy's shoulders. Luckily I clambered onto the boat without too much difficulty. The boat was FULL of people. There was even women breastfeeding their babies on board. They started handing out lifejackets and Babs eagerly took one, like most Senegalese people I have met so far, he can't swim. It was a bumpy ride but we got there in one piece. The arrival was sudden, I thought we had gotten tangled in another boat but we had arrived. Pretty soon afterwards there was more men surrounding the boat offering to carry us to the shore. The water had changed from calm to very wavy so getting off the boat onto the man's shoulders was hit or miss. I was lucky. I arrived on the shore a little wet but in one piece. On our way out of the beach we were approached by a guy who spoke English in a London accent: Kevin. Kevin got us a taxi and we managed to get to the boarder without any issues. We also made it back to Kaolack in one piece, tired but happy. The next day we headed back to Joal. We were so happy that the maid was still there but then the day after we got back, she got fired/left.
The rest of my time has been taken up by all the usual things, clubs and teaching as well as working in the pharmacy. The teachers have now stopped their strike, but then the students decided to go on strike for two days so that meant we had some time "off". We also discovered the library in Joal which is amazing. It is just like libraries back home, only smaller and you only need to pay 50f (about 6p) for a year's membership. Apparently it has been running for over 25years. So that is all I can think to write for today, I need to start working on my community project… things are going well apart from the 4 day water cut which was very inconvienent. But I finally got to go to the well which was interesting. Luckily we had water last night (we now have to get up around 3 or 4 in the morning to fill our water buckets). Very excited for this weekend because Sophia is coming to visit Senegal . I have so many things planned but sadly she's not staying for very long. J
Until next time. Julia