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Echo’s Travel Diary

Friday, 25 Jan 2008

Location: Gambia

MapI last left off on a description of the compounds, pit toilets and the first part of our morning. Now the stories continue...
So like I said we left off at Tracy throwing candies at a screaming mob of children and were rescued shortly after my backpack. After we left this compound we returned to the compound where we were sleeping to eat breakfast and have coffee. This was the beginning of when I began to feel like I was in a zoo. While we walked from the original compound to ours the kids just gathered around us yelling Twobob and asking for candies, pens, anything you name it. Instead of the group dwindling as we walked it seems that rumour of our presence was spreading faster than our walking speed and kids were coming our from all over. By the time we reached our compound we probably gathered about 50 kids, which Sidi proceeded to try to lock out of his compound so that we could eat in peace.

He was fairly successful in keeping out most of the kids but the kids of the family compound were an exception to this rule. Many of them would sit or stand about 2 feet from in front of us and just stare. Most of the small children do not learn English until they reach middle school so none of them could talk to us all they would do was watch every move we did. I have to be honest, it was fairly uncomfortable. After we ate, the boys decided that it was time to begin the tour of the village. We headed out and started walking around.

Our first stop was the compound of a fairly famous (in Gambia) Marabou. Just so you all know a Marabou is a shaman and many people go to see them for medicine, spiritual guidance, juju to protect them against evil spirits, or juju to give evil spirits to someone else. This particular compound is a very original one as it has the largest round mud hut in the Gambia. Usually mud huts are small one room buildings but this particular one is huge and has many smaller rooms inside. No one is really allowed to visit this compound unless they are accompanied or invited by one of the members of the family, which we were. However, no one but the family is allowed inside as there is apparently some really powerful juju that could kill you if you come into contact with it or even look at it. It was a pretty cool hut but I do wish that we could have gone inside it.

After we looked at the compound and took pictures one of the boys from the family compound we were staying at brought us a donkey cart. This was the highlite of my trip kind of cause I have wanted to ride on a donkey cart since I knew I was going to the village. I even asked the boy if I could drive the cart and he handed over the reigns immediately. However, driving a donkey cart is the equivalent to riding a trail horse, you really don't need to lead it as they know where they are going (except when you are close to their house cause then they just want to go home). So Mino, Tracy and I piled on the donkey cart and headed out to the rice patties. A donkey cart is slower than if you were walking so it was a very hot experience but I guess it was kind of good that we were on the cart cause very slowly the hordes of children following died down because it was too hot for them and none of them wanted to walk. It took almost 45 minutes until we reached the ends of the rice fields cause they are huge. We got off our cart and walked around.

Right now the fields are dry and it is rice harvesting season. The women tend the fields mainly but now that all the other crops are finished the men sometimes help. This is where my ranting will begin. I am pretty sure that everyone has seen my photos of the beautiful rice bundles that the women make. This is how they harvest the rice in order to keep it for the whole year. However, the downside of the way they harvest it is that it takes them a long time and these poor women have way to many jobs to do in a day. It is great that the men help as well but when the men help they do not have the same patience as the women so they just cut the rice and throw it into a big pile, which means that the women have to go out and gather it, take it back to the house and pound it within a few days or all the rice will spoil. So really, the men don't help too much with the harvesting of the rice cause they just create more work for the women.

We walked around for a while in the fields, looking and the small boys that we did have with us decided to go for a swim in the shallow water that feeds in from the river. This village is lucky as they have access to the river from their village. This means that many travelling fisherman come to stay in their village to go out daily to catch fish, which they can then sell to the local people.

This will be continued after report cards...