Jon Does Gambia: Day 4 "Riding Around and Getting It"
Full Disclosure: This is the second time I’m writing this. The first time was amazing and it somehow got lost. I blame my friend Cassandra for hogging all the damn Internet. Damn influencers and their damned videos… I’ll add pictures when I get some good connection.
I heard mention of a fight at Poco Loco yesterday amongst some young locals. Apparently it had been a pretty big brawl. I’m sure drama was added for effect, but still. I couldn’t imagine people getting angry enough to fight here. Everyone had been all smiles the entire time. Then I heard it was over a fender bender. I can relate to that. Road rage can be real sometimes. Maybe these are my people!
I haven’t mentioned the monkeys in these posts so far. They have been a part of our life here at the resort. We live amongst their home (the beautiful trees here) and it’s cool to see them playing around with each other. Watching them interact is a cool way to pass the time. It’s also refreshing that the resort hasn’t tried to monetize the monkeys. Like there hasn’t been a monkey show or a feeding time or anything like that. As a matter of fact, feeding is forbidden here. Our neighbors ignored that rule (probably for Facebook or The Gram), so I got to see two of them up close on the neighboring balcony. They’re beautiful creatures. I still try to keep my distance. My “how I lost my nose story” isn’t the one that I want to be known for.
Dinner was supposed to be at 4pm today (5:30 AT). I needed to eat before that. We got some lunch and beers in us. I was intrigued by the burgers. How is a hamburger done in Gambia? Well it’s just like my mom would make a burger at home. Eddie Murphy calls them “house burgers”. In The Gambia you get house burgers! It’s like a flat meatloaf. Seasoned very well. Onions and peppers popping out with each bite. A house burger. It was delicious.
We winded down in the room for a bit. Knowing exactly where Bash is for an hour is a comforting thought. Though he proved that the balcony isn’t even good enough for him. He called me out to show me how he can climb over the balcony edge and let himself down to the ground in the courtyard. I was simultaneously terrified and impressed.
- How did you figure out that you can do that?
He climbed back onto the balcony and walked into the room, never answering my question. What am I going to do with this kid? At least Alli would take a nap.
Dinner came around and we went to Roots restaurant where I was told there was good food, drinks and Bob Marley. What a sales pitch! We sat out on the grass and ordered drinks as we waited for the food. The wasps came out as soon as the drinks were placed on the table. If you come here, GET YOUR DRINK POURED INTO A GLASS. You need to see if a wasp has crawled into your drink. Two wasps drowned in orange juice on this fateful afternoon. I can think of worse ways to go.
The food at Roots was decent. Nothing to write home about. I felt like time was ticking on my chance to go in far from the resort and see The Gambia. This was another dinner nearby after a lunch on site. Time was running out!
We all congregated in the main courtyard later for drinks (don’t judge us, we’re on vacation). We made plans for the rest of the week. A family member of one of my Gambian-Swedish friends walked up to the table and was introduced to us. He was a generation above me and had a really chill vibe. He shook my hand and told me he heard about me before. I hope it was good stuff! I liked my New Friend. He told me about his involvement with growing his church, only to be interrupted by the waitress bringing his beer. Okay, I really like this guy!
New Friend had to go “shower and change clothes quickly”. He asked me if I wanted to go with him. Get away from the hotel resort. I looked over at my family. Bash was asleep and Alli was on the way. He had assured me we’d be back in an hour. I looked around for non-verbal clues from my “friends”. Nothing! It was like the airport all over again! Swedie was taken aback as I was. She didn’t say no, but she didn’t say “go” either. I took that as it was up to me. I looked at Amat. He shrugged.
- Do you want to go?
I wanted to go. I went. New Friend was happy. We walked to his car. His driver Lamin was waiting for us. Lamin would be available for me if I needed him at all while I was here. He could take us around as a guide and take care of us. I didn’t mention that I already had my own Lamin. This guy didn’t drive like my Lamin. He drove on our shoulder, cut people off, drove on the other shoulder, worked across traffic back to the other lane, whatever it took to get us to our destination as fast as possible.
New Friend was co-pilot extraordinaire! He signaled to other cars our intentions, thanked with a wave, directed motorcycles around us, even chatted with a driver going by. It was amazing to watch. I was glad I tagged along. New Friend showed me a YouTube video in the middle of all of the co-piloting. It was his brother’s music video. I now had a soundtrack to the ride. The music was good. The air was warm. I was loving it.
We passed through the country’s stop light. That’s right; The Gambia only has one stop light in the entire country. I was glad to have gone through it. There should be a second stop light at the cluster-fuck of a roundabout that we drove through. There was a lot of communication to get through that thing. If I drove here, that would be called the “fuck it” roundabout. Either I turn around and go home, or I take another rode because fuck that noise, I’m not driving through that!
Lamin got us there safely. We were in a nice, gated community. It reminded me of a gated community in the US minus street lights. It wasn’t that lit up around there. New Friend introduced me to his niece and sister (it was her house). He gave me a tour. All I could think was “ghetto fabulous”. Not in a bad way either. It was the home I would imagine someone in the hood in Miami would build after they hit the lottery. Everything was grand. The chairs were gigantic, there were portraits, medallions, statues, you name it. The tiles were large and there was a water machine in the corner. Shout out to Zephyrhills. This was my Aunt Renee’s house if she was Gambian.
Auntie came down to keep me company. She was sweet and funny. I could tell she was smart and worldly. She tried to find something I’d like to watch on television though she didn’t really know how to work the remote. Her daughter came down to help. She introduced me to her as her “uncle”. I almost shed a tear. Damn right I’m your uncle! Come let me hug your neck!
Many of the channels were in French so she landed on CNN. Great, America’s biggest embarrassment was now in this living room. Auntie sucked her teeth.
- How did you vote for him?
Great, we get to talk politics! I explained that Trump didn’t really get more votes, he just got the right amount in the old system that we have. She sucked her teeth again.
- Then they need to throw away that system!
I agreed. She left it alone after that. Good, no more defending my dumb ass country. That’s like being back in Sweden! We chatted and I was invited to come back for dinner. Auntie would make me some Jolof Rice. She wanted to meet my family. I wanted to talk to Auntie all night. She was my family. So much about her reminded me of my sister. I could have spent the entire evening here kicking it with Auntie and my new niece.
New Friend came in with his fly pants on. Homeboy was ready to party! I can only describe them as quilted MC Hammer pants. I didn’t feel them but they appeared to be velvet or suede. I gave Auntie a hug and we went out to Lamin. Yes Lamin was waiting for us, still.
I got back to the room and everything was peaceful. The kids were asleep and Swedie was listening to a pod. I told her that I had a good time. She didn’t care because she wanted me to feel bad about abruptly leaving her with two children at bedtime. I waded through the passive aggression until it was time to go upstairs and chill with everyone else. I didn’t feel bad about my quick journey. I had new family now.
I went upstairs and chilled with my peoples. We talked about our experiences thus far and our plans for the rest of our time here. We also talked about Swedish culture from all of our perspectives (it was an impressively diverse group). It was a good ending to another great day in The Gambia. I had told Swedie I would be back shortly (Africa Time). It was past 11pm. Time to turn in. I knew that no matter what time I got in, I’d be expected to do my part with the kids the next morning. Time to make the adult decision and bid New Friend and the young gang farewell. There were more adventures in the near future. Until next time…