0256. The Unpretentious Gambian Capital (Gam 02--revisit)

Banjul Travel Blog

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The ferry from to Bajul is a fun experience.  It's a tall, top heavy looking thing crammed with an assortment of vehicles and a people squeezed in anywhere they can.  But you can get away from the crowd by climbing to the top deck where you get a great view of the river bank and the open sea.  Just as I was thinking "I wonder if it would sink if a couple of trucks full of gravel drove on board..."  ... a truck full of gravel drives on board!

But no, we don't sink.

On the Banjul side you exit to a bustling port and comercial area, where Mauritanian merchants sell packaged cookies etc imported from who knows where... I immediately find a hostel, and figure I'll take it--for the convenient location if nothing else.

  It's a rather sleazy joint with a dark winding alley leading to the entrance--but my room had a great view of the port and the sea...

I have brief flashback of my visit to Banjul as a side trip during my Morocco-Senegal saga in 2004.  I remember being struck by the more laid back feel, and being humored by the fading traces left by the British colonizers.  Most folks in Senegal and Gambia share the same native language and culture—Woolof, but their their French and British colonizers gave the two countries some interesting distinctions. 

I rested for a bit, then head out to hit the town at dusk.  To my chagrin, everything is closing up tight!  I guess it's something they learned from the English--don't stay open past 5!  Few of the streets have any light, giving the area an ominous feel.

..

I do find one lit up street which I follow to a much livelier neighborhood where locals eat, drink, laugh and relax out in front of their tin roof homes... Outside of the port area, Banjul has a very cheery, small town feel--and folks don't seem to be all pretentious about being residents of the nation's capital... In fact, most Gambians agree that nearby Serakunda is the "real" capital...

I’m pretty lucky with food this time... delicious meat pie... a cool slice of watermelon... heading back to the port area I sit down at an outdoor table for a delicious chicken sandwich with a dark, rich gravy...

Get into a conversation with the guy next to me... He tells me he used to work for the US Embassy in Guinea Bissau--that really catches my attention as I would have tried to visit it if my trip hadn't been cut short.

.. He gives me the real scoop on why the US shut down its Embassy there and a short history of the country's recent troubles...

Next day...

Next morning I head out early--big day today... gonna try to see as much as I can of Gambia in one day--should be able to see quite a bit, as most if its towns are concentrated on the coastal area, and are easily accessible by these minivans zipping around...

But first, I've got to parkbench Banjul, and I know just where to do it.  It wouldn't be right not to pay respects to Banjul's architectural pride--"The Arch" a monument built to commemorate a bloodless coup d'etat that took place in the nineties... which makes you wonder... if they were to ever have another coup d'etat--would they tear down The Arch, or just rechristen it?

A couple of interesting statues around, including one of a soldier carrying a child in one hand and a machine gun in the other... not quite sure what to make of that...

From there I head up to take a picture of Banjul's biggest mosque... then I figure I'll just take the first minivan that comes along--I'm sure it'll take me someplace interesting...

 

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Banjul
photo by: LeighTravelClub