The following day we met up with the Rastafarian bumsters who had arranged for the large 10 seat open top Land Rover to take us on a day excursion to visit a Crocodile Pool, a local village and a market place.
We all clambered into the open top vehicle and off we went to see the crocodiles at the Kachikally Crocodile Pool in Bakau.
This sacred pool is supposed to have magic and mystical healing properties. Infertile women visit the site where they are washed with the sacred water by specially trained women of the Bojang Clan. However as all the crocodiles would have been swimming and possibly polluting the water I am glad that I am not a barren Gambian lady.
To be honest I personally found the crocodiles very disappointing and I had to be convinced by our guide that they were actually alive!
We were there for about 40 minutes and I saw two of the crocodiles very slightly move (or should I say ‘twitch’) their tails, and that was it!! – Quite honestly they looked more dead than alive and we were even encouraged to stroke these ‘vicious’ reptiles. I suggested that if they were not dead they must be in a drugged stupor.
We continued our excursion to visit a local village where Jimmy’s family lived. On our way there we stopped at a roadside shop to buy a crate of cold beer, soft drinks and numerous bags of wrapped lollipops.
As we drove along village streets lollipops were thrown out of the rear and within seconds dozens of young Gambian children appeared and rushed after us picking up lollipops and screaming with excitement and shouting ‘allo allo wait wait’.
We eventually arrived at the village which has a population of around 500. On each small plot of land stands a simple concrete house roofed with reeds or corrugated metal and this is called a Compound. This is very basic and some village compounds have no electricity or running water. However everyone appeared very happy and we were welcomed to their village with numerous handshakes and eventually introduced to Jimmy’s family.
Seated under a tree in the ‘village square’ was a group of 15-17 year old girls having their hair braided and a few yards away a group of young boys were playing. Earlier my son had bought a blue plastic football which he collected from the Land Rover and offered it to this group of young Gambian lads. As they did not possess such a valuable item they were so pleased to receive it and with eyes wide open with excitement and anticipation they ran off to play football and dream of playing for Africa.
As we left the village and drove along the main dusty sandy street we were once again nearly overwhelmed with crowds of young children chasing the Land Rover for more lollipops; some of them were even hanging onto the back of the moving vehicle with a hand outstretched shouting ‘more lollipops please’.
THE SENEGAMBIA MARKET
Next stop was a large open market place which sold everything from wood sculptures, clothing, shoes, bags and jewellery etc.
The avenues of food sellers was interesting, but the outdoor fish and meat market area was hard to stomach with the stench of fish and raw meat which was covered in hoards of flies! The U.K. Health and Safety Inspectors would have a field day here.
RESTAURANT ON STILTS
After our tour of the market place it was suggested that we visit a riverside restaurant hand built on stilts by a local group.On approaching it we noticed large mounds of empty oyster shells which are powdered up and used as paint or a type of cement.
On entering the restaurant we were offered a cooked meal but the ‘decor’ and hygiene did not appeal so we declined but accepted bottled cold drinks.
We returned to the Hotel in the early evening to prepare for the Fish Buffet which was well presented and enjoyed by all.