0255. Singing for the Coconut Harvesters (Gambia 01--new)

Barra Travel Blog

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The Senegal-Gambia border has to be the most pleasant borders in the world.  On both sides the officials are downright cheerful, the moneychangers straightforward--winsome without being too pushy... and typical West African rural charm on each side.

I walk a bit farther to where I see a minibus parked and ask how much it is. The collector says "100 Dalais, and I'll go right away" I insist that I’m only going to pay regular fare, no matter how long I have to wait... He keeps  coming down farther and farther, but I won't budge... Finally, the bus fills up, I pay the standard fare and we’re off....

Before long we reach Barra, the ferry town on the north side.  I figure it would be worth exploring before catching the ferry to Banjul.


So I wander to the edge of town, and then take a dirt road  that snakes between marshland and the village... Not really seeing any good places to park bench--then I spott a shady coconut grove that might work out....

The grove is full of boys of all ages who are scurrying up the coconut trunks and throwing down the coconuts--harvesttime is in full swing.  Their boss seems to be quite friendly and doesn't seem to mind at all that I provide a bit of entertainment for his workers. 

Afterwards they all insist that I must go and meet Barra's most notable musician--so he has a young fellow take me to his house. We reached a shady open area with beautifully painted walls.  A sort of music and art sanctuary hidden in this unknown Gambian Village.  They lead me to their revered musician, an older man with graying dredlocks and colorful clothes

"We're in the process of creating a place where people can come to discover Gambian art and music..." he tells me in  solemn voice.

I advise him to maybe create a website or something—although frankly I don’t know how successful he might be in drawing tourist to this off the beaten path spot… but I do find his project inspiring.

I’d like to stay longer, but I have a ferry to catch.


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photo by: nathanphil