The journey becomes it’s own once you have bought the ticket. Chucked through a portal into the dripping West African flora and crawling fauna from *”Our Safe European Home” one must give one’s self to the inevitable slings and arrows of delays. There are the known delays, the known unknown delays, and my favorite, the unknown, unknown delays. And so we wait, our jump off date from Gambia to Guinea planned for November 1st will be but a speck in the well fingered re-view mirror of a Peugeot ‘sept place’ as we hurtled towards the source of River Gambia in two weeks time… inch’Allah. Er yes, two weeks. Merde! So our beloved Peli case stuffed with tents, Kelly kettles, hiking boots, assorted cables, power bars etc was last seen chatting up a Banjul bar bound, scantily bubble wrapped fridge-freezer on the dock at Antwerp last week – it seems the container with our gear had been taken off the ship a few thousand km early. Thus the delay, as the Peli case and his trusty companion, our OverBoard Ninja bag stuffed with 11p Morrison’s pot-noodles, once lost but now found, are re-directed around Spain, down the coast of Western Sahara, passed the desolate Mauritanian coast with a loan Tuareg sipping a sweet tea on a dune waiting to ambush a lost Paris-Dakar driver, passed a gang of Talibé children on the sea wall at Dakar begging for money while their pimp/marabout gets fat on the prayer mat, and finally to the port at Banjul, where, in 1943, Franklin D. Roosevelt stopped on route to meet Churchill in Casablanca. F.D.R was so disgusted at the state of colonial British Banjul and it’s citizenry, it was said that it **“helped crystallize Roosevelt’s thinking about the role of the organization he was envisioning to help guide the post-Empire world: the United Nations”.
And so we turn the delay, for our River Gambia Expedition, into another Julbrew, more research and GPS fiddling, and give thanks to Geri and Maurice of Sandele Eco Retreat who have given us a bed and vitals so good to make even our dear hero, Mungo Park rise from his watery grave in the Niger River.
ETD to Guinea coming… once the boat comes in.
Florio & Helen
Kartong, The Gambia, Nov 1st 2012
* Joe Strummer /Mick Jones – The Clash
**Donald Wright is SUNY Distinguished Teaching Professor at the State University of New York College – His books include Oral Traditions from the Gambia and African Americans in the Colonial Era: From African Origins Through the American Revolution.