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Echo’s Travel Diary

Wednesday, 15 Aug 2007

Location: Gambia

MapWell I made it safe and sound to Gambia! It was a very long flight but I am here just a little tired but raring to go. It really wasn't all that long of a flight but the timing of it is not that good. Gambia is six hours ahead of Calgary time so after roughly an eight hour flight I arrived in Senegal pretty tired and ready for sleep. I was warned in NY by a guy returning from Africa that Dakar is one of the worst airports in Africa and that I really had to watch my stuff. No problems I thought, as the check in guy at South African Air told me my baggage would be checked straight through to Banjul.

After standing in a non-moving line to get through customs I made it through to discover that my baggage were infact on the belt and going round and round with about fifteen Africans waiting for me to come claim it so they could help me. Guys grabbing my bags telling me that I owed them each twenty US but ten dollars would be fine for helping me, even though I never asked I finally lost it. I hit one guys hand away and told them all very firmly to leave me alone I was fine and I could do it myself. I finally gathered all of my bags and headed for the door, where I was told that the travel agents brother would be waiting for me with my ticket to Banjul. I was looking forward to that so I didn't have to worry anymore about stuff going missing or people harassing me but yep you probably all guessed it. There was no brother standing there with my ticket.

At this point I think I was looking a little desperate so people kept coming up to me seeing if I needed help but I knew that help equalled my money and it wasn't that genuine. I also had to be quite aggressive when all I really wanted to do was find this "brother" and kick his ass and then cry. Finally this one guy walked up and asked if I needed help and kept saying I don't want money, I am here to help, I work at the airport. So I took a chance and trusted him.

He took me over to the airline ticket office to see if they had my ticket, they didn't. They didn't even have me in their computers as a person who was supposed to be on their plane. I was getting more and more mad but I remembered that I had written the travel agent's brother's number down so the helpful guy let me use his phone and call. Well the man was on holidays, how wonderful for him. The guy that answered the phone told me it would take him forty minutes to drive my ticket to the airport and I didn't have that much time. So this is where my friend who was helping me stepped up to the plate. He got on the phone and ran back and forth with the airline people and he got me on the flight. Plus the man got my excess baggage on the flight without it costing me anything. I was so glad to have found this man and decided that I didn't care whether or not he wanted money originally I was going to give him some so I thought twenty dollars would be pretty good.

As he was walking me over to the security checkin he starts talking money. He tells me that I owe a hundred dollars to him so that he can pay the baggage guy to get my bags on the plane. I was shocked, this great guy helping me out, I was about to give him twenty dollars and he here was in the end trying to screw me out of a hundred US. I told him that I didn't believe him and he kept insisting it was the truth and I told him I didn't have that kind of cash because I was going to pay the excess baggage fee on my credit card. He told me to go to the bank machine and take it off of my credit card. I told him no that I needed a receipt to get reimbursed and he said that it was not ever possible to take excess bags that this guy was doing me a favour and I owed it to him.
For a brief second, I must admit, that I thought about paying it because I was concerned that my bags would not go through but I watched the guy enter them in the computer and send them down the conveyor belt so I figured that they were well on their way to being put on the plane. I decided to call his bluff and walked into the security line, somewhere that he couldn't go and stood there with my back to him and ignored his demands. Well it worked, he finally left me alone and I made it through security onto the plane and low and behold my bags made it with me too.