Banjul, The Gambia

Gambia is the smallest country in Africa. It’s capital, Banjul, means rope fibre, which was one of their main products early on. Banjul sits at the mouth of the Gambia River where it meets the Atlantic Ocean and has a natural port and is an important trading post that was created by the British in the 1800s. They renamed the port Bathurst at that time. After independence in 1973 it was renamed Banjul. In 1994 there was a bloodless coup and today it is a democratic country with a president as its head of state. The main language is English along with several tribal languages. It’s economy is mainly agricultural with, farming, some fishing and more recently a spike in tourism because of the climate and lovely beaches. And even though it is one of the poorest countries in the world, I found the people to be friendly and welcoming.

The other half of our group on a similar wooden boat to ours on the Gambia.

My tour, Lazy Day Cruise, was on the Gambia River and indeed it was a leisurely cruise to a sand bar and then back again with a miraculous luncheon served to us from the smallest kitchen you have ever seen with an hibachi for a stove with live briquettes!! and this was a wooden boat. We wandered about the sandbar and got our feet wet. However, no one wanted to go swimming in the murky water. Throughout the cruise wonderful smells emanated from that little kitchen and the lady turned out a luncheon of salads, shrimp, noodles, vegetable rice, fried chicken, fried fish, pasta, and french fries, which we enjoyed as we wended our way back down the river.

Our chef, in black, standing in front of her little tiny kitchen. Behind the bird painting.

We also learned the mangroves that line the sides of the river create a growing place for oysters. The oysters attach themselves to the roots and when they are ready they are harvested, and only by women in small boats. Once the tide went out, we were able to see how the oysters grew. They are only harvested for local consumption and not for export. We also saw lots of birds.

As the tide receded, we could see large amounts of oysters clinging to the roots of the mangrove trees along the river.

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