The night was pleasant and not too warm thanks to a fan which worked perfectly fine. The next day we do the check in and head to the Monkey Park. It is located next to the “Conference Center”, probably the finest building in the country, which was constructed by the Chinese government. A guide welcomes us. The entrance is not well preserved and the pathway to the place is muddy. After paying the “governmental” fee of 150 DMG (almost 3€) and 200 DMG for some peanuts for the monkeys, our guide led us the way to the park. It is a beautiful forest surrounded by the highly populated Senegambia and Serekunda. Our guide calls the monkeys and they quickly appear. We get to see two types: the “red” ones, which were hunted years ago and ever since have had a shy behavior towards humans, and the “green” ones, more friendly and sociable. Our guide explains us that the plan of the Chinese was to cut down the entire forest in order to build a five star hotel near the Conference Center. However, after numerous demonstrations, the government stepped back and decided not to go on with the plan.
After leaving the park we notice one thing — our mobile data is gone, for some reason we don’t know. We were supposed to meet our driver for the next three days at the entrance of the park but he wasn’t there and we didn’t have any means for contacting him. We decide to go to a nearby garage and ask for a phone. We manage to call our driver — “I’m coming”, says. After twenty minutes waiting on the sidewalk of the street, what seems like a policeman approaches us. He turns out to be nice and starts asking us different questions. I must admit I was quite nervous since we weren’t sure he was a policeman but he was wearing a special uniform — he could be a member of a paramilitary group or something similar. He gives me his phone number after I kindly invite him to Barcelona. Ten minutes later, Adama, our driver arrives. His voice is quite affected and coughs quite often, not a good sign in COVID-19 times. He takes us to an ATM and shortly after we head to Sanyang.
The road to the village is unpaved and it is often flooded by the extreme rains of the rainy season in The Gambia. This makes me wonder whether it’s a nice idea to continue on our trip to the interior of the country through more of these unpaved roads. As we approach the beach, we can see clear signs of underdevelopment and lack of infrastructure. Adama leaves us on the beach and we walk our way to the hotel. The Jungle Beach Resort is practically empty — we are the only tourists in the entire beach besides a European woman who tells us she’s living here. We leave our stuff in our room and invite Adama to have lunch with us — he said he wouldn’t go back to his house since it was too far away. After a one hour wait, my “dodoma” arrives. It is some kind of sauce with vegetables and rice which tastes absolutely great. Shortly after we take a small nap and head to Tanji.
Our first stop in our afternoon road trip is the Fandema Foundation. The man who manages it speaks perfect Catalan — he had lived in Catalonia for a long time and was an engineer. His goal in the foundation was to promote quality education for women in the areas that they don’t get to study quite often and are mainly dominated by men. By this, he believes he can prepare the country for a brighter future. The director shows us around: they have many different classrooms and specialized areas. Everything is well organized and clear, the director is an absolute genius. The place is self-sustained — they have built solar panels and enough infrastructure to have it that way.
Our next stop is Tanji, we hop off in this busy village whose entire purpose is fish processing, selling and distribution. We walk our way through the smelly and dirty streets as we see the locals work thoroughly — it’s almost sunset and the market is at its peak. The place is chaotic and beautiful at the same time, it’s probably the realest place we’ve been in these two days. Everybody is too busy to sell us stuff, but at the same time keep their charm and good vibes. We arrive at the beach, where hundreds of boats are waiting to leave in a few minutes for a fishing night. Sailing in the sea, another hundred boats approach the coast and download the fish. The village follows a clear process — first, the fishermen arrive at the coast and distribute the fish, some of it is cooked and some of it is taken to the main street where they will be loaded into trucks and then distributed throughout the country. The sun sets as we arrive back at our accommodation. We hang out with a local — his name is Pablo and has a coffee shop where we have some drinks before we go back to the hotel for dinner. Just before jumping to bed I try having a shower but there isn’t running water. Tomorrow we will start our trip through the interior of the country.