The water around the Lamin Lodge, where we were anchored, was completely calm, as it was surrounded by mangroves. We made our way in to the lodge, a restaurant that looks like it was inspired by the movie “Hook”. Here, a number of colorful former fishing boats were moored, ready to take tourists on trips in the mangroves. We got our dinghy tied up and made our way to the restaurant to celebrate our arrival in the Gambia. It was nice to get into the shade of the open air restaurant, and when we received our food we soon had the attention of the monkeys living in the place, ready to grab some food if you don’t pay attention. One of them had figured out how to hide behind Esben’s back without being seen, and wait until he could quickly take something from the plate. Unfortunately for him, we made Esben aware of the wannabe thief, and Esben scared him away.
A footpath led to a gathering of huts behind the restaurant, with little shops catering to tourists. Every single person we met wanted money from us, and soon G-boy also showed up to show us around the place. The locals harvest the oysters from the mangrove roots, and he showed us how the shells are broken down over time, and eventually becomes part of the paint for the huts. Also, the shells were used on the floor in the little restaurant attended by the locals, very decorative.
The little restaurant for the locals turned out to be a good place for us to do school the next morning. While Runa and Mattis were working, we could talk to some of the guys about their lives. Some of them told us how they had dropped out of school to make money taking the tourists out on trips. They seemed to be working well together, supporting each other rather than fighting for the tourists, which was nice to see. One of the guys sold clothes and other things in fabric that he had dyed himself in the batik style of the Gambia, and from him we bought a table cloth for Esben’s mom. But other than that we didn’t buy anything; we generally don’t buy souvenirs, and here, they knew exactly what we would have to pay for an item in Scandinavia, and then set the price a bit higher here. This meant that a pineapple from the Lamin Lodge area would be at least ten times as expensive as in the market, and honestly, that’s just too much for us. But almost more importantly, being viewed as just money, rather than visitors, made the visit at Lamin Lodge somewhat uncomfortable for us, and we only spent two nights there before starting the trip up the river.
Another uncomfortable incident was the visit by an “official” who wanted us to pay 150 euro for a “safety inspection”. We were fully aware that this inspection does not exist for pleasure crafts, and following the advice in our guide book, we told him we wanted to see his ID, and that we would meet him in his office and talk to his bosses before the inspection. This made him yell and scream at us, he, of course, had neither an official ID nor a boss, but after a long time with a lot of aggression he finally left the place. We proceeded to contact the Danish Consulate, who told us not to worry, and then we left the Lamin Lodge to start our trip up the river.
To see our most recent position, click here.