Tuesday, 3 June 2008

The Gambian Experience Part Nine (Sidetrips). From January 2008.

Photo's from the top are as follows:-

Family dinner. (Oh damn, it's missionary again...)
View down from The President's Arch (cafe).
Ditto:- Road into Banjul.
Ditto:- View across Banjul to sea.
Driving away from The President's Arch.

Today we took the girls to see The President's Arch in Banjul.
As far as vanity projects go it is quite impressive from the outside, but it's when you get inside and look around the small exhibitions which are, I have to admit, quite well presented, that things start getting interesting.
There is an art exhibition and I bought a couple of small pictures to take home. There was a larger one of a flautist that I really liked but I can't afford the £95.00 price.
Well I could, but then I'd have nothing for anything else so I don't think about it. Lovely picture tho'. Definitely impressive.

The thing that really impresses me however is the 'Ju-ju' exhibition.
Now here's a subject I know a little bit about so let's see what they can tell me that I don't know ?
A lot actually.
As I said, I knew a little and now, after the exhibition, I know a fair bit more.
Ju-Ju... What Dr John fans would call Gris-Gris, and what makes the whole thing even more impressive in my eyes is the fact that there is no glossing over the facts to hide unwelcome truths for it is all there...
How the predominantly Muslim faith over the years instead of trying to suppress the amulets and charms of the indiginous population actually worked with it and brought them into the faith.
For some reason this impresses me more than supposed Christianity who have always tried to suppress things like that.
You only have to look at the pictures of some 'boy' soldiers in some other African countries to know that Ju-ju is still very real in this region.
I find the whole subject fascinating and am eventually dragged kicking and screaming from the exhibition by Mariama and the twins who want ice-creams.
Coffee and Ice cream... very civilised... Everybody should try it at some time.
After our little break we climb the stairs to the roof and look out over the city.
It's quite an impressive view.
Right, onward to the market... Where I spend a few quid on some Youssou N'Dour DVD's and CD's. The guy is out of Toumani Diabate which is a drag 'cos I'd've loved to get some live stuff but it can't be helped. Maybe next time ?
You get two choices out here. You can either buy the real thing or they will
'pirate' you a copy while you wait.
Money is of course the great divider.
In England I would generally go for the real thing, but here ?
Sod it !
There's only so much money in the world so I'll go for pirate copies.
That way I can get something for Cropredy Annie for when I get back and I know she will appreciate it, pirate or no, as it will not be available in England.

In the evening we went out with Haddy's cousin Pa and his son James.
We ended up in Senegambia at Alibaba's.
It is a restaurant geared for the tourist trade with a keyboard player/singer and/or karaoke and an African dance floorshow for the diners...
God help us... The Brit's abroad.
I will however give it an extra star for the fact that I could get a draught Guinness and for the food...
My keftas were pretty good and Haddy's deep fried prawns were absolutely delicious and should we ever go back there ? I want them.

Actually it is the first time since I arrived that that I've eaten a meat dish except the Gambian family stuff that I eat at Haddy's, where, to be honest, I'll eat anything that is put in front of me by the girls.
All the locals, especially the women, seem to be a bit concerned that Gambian food will be too hot for me chilli wise, but in all honesty it is no hotter than a good Rogan Josh and I'm not stupid enough to want to prove the point as I happen to know that chewing on a bright red 'scotch bonnet', cooked or not, is always going to be beyond me.
Today we had smoked fish and catfish combined in an onion and chilli sauce with rice.
Rice is the staple here. Near enough everything has rice with it.
I'd also pounded the family's baobab which caused all manner of amusement as apparently that is 'woman's work' and the girls kept trying to get me to stop and let them do it, but Sainabou has toothache (a wisdom tooth coming through) and every pound of the mortar into the large pestle (think tree trunk into large wooden dustbin) is making fireworks go off in her head.
After I've finished sieving the pods out of it we bag it up.
Most of this is coming back to the U.K. with me for Fatou, Haddy's eldest daughter, who cannot get it locally and has to go into London should she want any...

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