Early one morning it was decided to undertake a 5-6 mile walk (!!) along the beach in order to see some vultures being fed. This journey eventually took 90 minutes and as I was suffering from ‘cracked heels’ this was a torturous event but convincing myself that I was a famous explorer I plodded bravely onwards.
After a while we passed a group of fisherman and some minutes later noticed a dilapidated shack or hut with a chalked notice board ‘SPECKLED HEN BAR IN THE GAMBIA’ and running to meet us shouting ‘allo allo my friends’ were two Rastafarian ‘Bumsters’. Now a bumster is a type of ‘beach bum’ who attempts to win your friendship and will offer you deals and excursions or attempt to sell you cheap jewellery etc. Obviously they are eventually looking for a cash deal.
The Specked Hen Bar on the Beach
near the Sheraton Gambia Hotel
We had already been approached by a few other bumsters and if they bothered us we simply said ‘NO THANK YOU GOODBYE!’ (or some similar well recognised phrase!!) However we decided that this could be interesting and entered the dodgy looking bar where we were served cold beers direct from an old ice box.
The head bumster and bar owner Jimmy and his partner William were both Rastafarians and we noticed that William's dreadlocks were very short. He explained that the local police had caught him smoking marijuana and had cut them off ‘with a big pair of scissors’ as punishment (no wonder he wore a hat most of the time). After a few minutes two more guys appeared from an adjoining hut and with suspect cigarettes dangling from their lips started to give us a demonstration of drum playing.
Just before we decided to leave and after paying for the beers and entertainment Jimmy suggested that he could arrange for a large 10 seat open Land Rover to take us for a day excursion to visit a local market, his village and a Crocodile Park.
After shrewd negotiation by my son it was all arranged for the following day (and that was something to remember!!)
Eventually we reached the ‘Vulture Park’ which was situated near the beach in the grounds of SenaGambia Beach Hotel Kololi and after paying our entrance fees we watched an assistant throwing chicken pieces to the dozens of vultures that were zooming in from all directions.
As a ‘Monkey Park’ was only another 30 minutes walk along the beach everyone agreed that it would be worth a visit, but not me ‘sunshine’ and I seated myself under the shade of an umbrella in the hotel outside bar and restaurant to ‘put my feet up’ and enjoy a beer and a sandwich.
Hot and exhausted the family returned two hours later and after a few cooling drinks we all returned to the Sheraton hotel.