Serrekunda, Gambia

someone else's picture, but it expresses Serrekunda fairly well

We went to the beach with a missionary family and an aid family today. We bobbed in the waves and practised floating, and then I convinced all the kids to build a giant sandcastle halfway up the beach. I gathered flip flops and crab shells and wire and twine and styrofoam and glass from all over the beach, above the tideline, and the kids did the digging. It worked out well.

Last night, we went to a Thai buffet in the tourist area with one of the mission families. I was afraid I’d see Jimmy Fixer in the street, but I didn’t. The buffet was okay – a variety of asian-like food – but the best part was a delicious coconut custard for dessert. The power went out a couple times – it does that here unless you have a generator, and the tourists kind of squealed.

Yesterday we also went to Serekunda market. We didn’t see any other toubaabs while we were there, and people assumed we were Peace Corps. The market is a crisscross of streets and alleys, all in dirt, with trash and fabric scraps on the road, and stalls lining the sides. People sit by kiosks or lounge in the stalls listening to Arab music. We would go into a fabric shop, and the young men would be lounding on the farbric beyond the dark doorways, and they would get up and tell us how expensive their products are, and how valuable, and how the one we wanted was the most expensive of all, and Aunt Jan would say, who do you think I am, a tourist? She would tell them that she lives here, and that it’s good luck to sell fabric at the time of the new year, and then they would laugh and tell her a price, and she would start laughing and act horrified, and walk away, and they would cut the price in half, and she would haggle a little more, and we would buy the fabric. We also went into a bead shop where Nettie bought several strands of beads. When we came out, the air was full of smoke – it was a smoky day – and crowds of people chanting music walked by, filling the streets, and giving coins to beggars, and all for the new year.

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