Going back to Gambia
Updated: Jan 20
I spent ten days in beautiful Banjul, Gambia over one Christmas period. I was bedazzled with the amazing beaches, crystal clear water and white sands. We chose a cute and comfy 4* (star) hotel to stay in and the staff were amazing. Planning and preparation was not done to the best of my ability like I always do, as I was more focused on saving for this trip. I knew I wanted to visit an orphanage - that was one of my many goals, and i'm glad I could say I have finally ticked this off my bucket list!
I packed 32 books, numerous amounts of colouring pens and pencils, notepads and all the toys my son no longer wanted or needed. We found ourselves at SOS children's villages and although I didn't merely have enough books and toys for all the children, I had never felt more proud of myself. We met the gorgeous children and played with them for the rest of the afternoon. There were 70 children at the time, but we were lucky enough to interact with just a few small groups. We managed to take lots of pictures of these beauties and our day went well. We sat in the office and gave the books to the orphanage library.
Visits to the markets were always on the agenda as I love buying gifts, but more-or-so, it felt great to support the local businesses - especially when they asked! The market stalls have really great bits -and -bobs you can purchase as gifts, and one gentleman even gave me a free gift just for buying from his stall. It felt wonderful.
We visited the local public beach and left our footprints in the sand. New energy, ideas and feelings of love and hope ran through my body. I didn't want to return home! Although I had a wonderful time in Gambia, there were many times I honestly felt borderline harassed.
I had read reviews on the country before I booked my holiday, but everyone has, and is entitled to their own opinion, I told myself. As we stepped out of our hotel, we were asked over and over and over again, where we were going, where we were from, if we needed help, we were followed and asked questions throughout our 'on road' journeys even when we politely rejected help from the locals. We wanted to wander, to get lost, to explore but most of all we wanted peace and to do things at our own pace. Many of the locals, only allowed us to do so, when our voices changes from polite to authoritative!
Yay!! We had finally made a few friends... or so we had thought. They spent the day with us, showing us around and and then demanded £40, for a drink they bought us. That was the final straw. I decided to completely ignore the locals when they used the same lines to me and my family over again. I just politely said "No thanks" to everything they asked, and kept it moving. Freedom was finally upon us!
Breakfast at the hotel was everything I could ask for and more. I was in heaven. I would recommend the hotel based on the breakfast alone, but as evening/ dinner time came- every night things took a turn, well... my stomach did to be exact! Dinner at the hotel completely disagreed with me and every night I would spends ages on the toilet with the SCOOP-ADY-POOP-POOOP-POOPS! Diarrhoea affected me so bad, I was afraid to go out some evenings. I managed to get hold of a bottle of pink Pepto-Bismol, and it settled my stomach as much as it could, but still - my bowels were in overdrive! I had to eat out on the local strip, to avoid this feeling and it was the best thing I could have done.
Reflecting back on this holiday, I have many mixed feelings and I'm in two minds about going back. I've never met someone that had a bad thing to say about Gambia, but for the price of my trip- I felt as if I could have a luxury lifetime experience elsewhere. I can't say I'll definitely be back, but it's most likely a thought for the near future.