Day 146: Night-Trip to Gambia

26.05.09:

So Mentor and I hit the streets to find a way to Cape Verde. We go down to the beach where all the fishermen are. Mentor makes some phone calls, talks to some people. By 2pm, it was clear that I would not be leaving today. I decide not to waste my time, and so head over to The Gambia for a quick border-hop.

The Gambia is the smallest country in Africa – a thin slither of land completely encompassed by Senegal that surrounds the Gambia River like a novelty balloon. It was supposed to take 5 hours in a Sept-Place to get there, but the reality of life in a country where the politicians are far too busy doing GOD KNOWS WHAT to deal with the fact that there are more holes in the MAIN road than there are in the plot of Star Wars Episode I, this wasn’t the case.

Luckily, I had a really nice chap called Lamin sitting next to me. He was from The Gambia so he spoke very good English (The Gambia was one of Britain’s many daft colonial-era follies). We chewed the fat for hours over politics, travel, religion… all my favourite talking stuff. The conversation invariably turned time and time again to institutional corruption and how more than anything else, it is stifling the development of Africa. Hell, our driver found it easier to drive on the dust at the side of the road (less potholes).

We got to the border around 10pm. I got my passport stamped into The Gambia, did a piece to camera, and then headed back to the Sept-Place garage on the Senegalese side (almost sparking a hilarious riot amongst the motorcycle taxi dudes on the border).

Sept-Place taxis wait until they are full before they leave. I had to wait for two hours before we hit the road. I didn’t sleep, I just ran through every song on my iPod. Even if I wanted to sleep, the taxi was so old and beaten up (I’m surprised the driver could see given all the cracks in the windscreen) that every time the driver got to a certain point in third gear, he lost all power and all of us on board would be rudely thrown forwards with a jerk.

As a consequence, I got back to Dakar in a rotten mood. A mood that would not lighten any time soon.

Graham Hughes

Graham Hughes is a British adventurer, presenter, filmmaker and author. He is the only person to have travelled to every country in the world without flying. From 2014 to 2017 he lived off-grid on a private island that he won in a game show, before returning to the UK to campaign for a better future for the generations to come.

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