Hello all! I think I am FINALLY finished with weddings (though Musu has informed me there are two next week if I want to go…no thank you). While it was a valuable experience to attend these events, they are exhausting and I’m really ready to start in on some work. Dr. Sarr gets here today and I am chomping at the bit to visit some old slave holdings and to get some more direction with my project.
Yesterday was a much needed day of shopping and beach time. Dr. Sarr’s sister-in-law, Elizabeth, took me into Banjul to walk through the Albert Market. Unlike most Gambians, Elizabeth and her family are from a Catholic ethnic group, which constitutes about 2% of the overall population. Next weekend she is going to take me to mass with her so I can see what a Catholic mass is like here…I imagine it will be very much the same as the masses I’ve been to back in the states, but with some added African flavor. Albert Market was a lot quieter than the Serrekunda Market, so I felt a lot more comfortable there. As a white person, I am charged a steeper price at each stall in the market, so you have to adjust quickly and learn bargaining techniques to get the price down to where you want it. For instance, I wanted to buy my brother a Gambian National Team soccer jersey and the man wanted to sell it to me for 500d (about $17). Elizabeth told me that’s too much (I didn’t think so) so I told him the most I would give him is 200d. He said no way, and Elizabeth told me to use the most important bargaining technique…walk away. About five min after I walked away he sent one of his shop keepers to find me and make the deal for 200d (about $7 or $8). Elizabeth was a huge help and was really good at charming the shop keepers…a lot of times they would not only give me the price I asked for, but they’d throw in something small for free. Elizabeth is taking me to her tailor in the coming week to get a shirt made for me. The shirts women wear here are very similar to the peplum style of shirts that women wear in America, so I’m dying to get one!
After an afternoon of shopping I joined Jean Marc and my other friend Akho and we went to our favorite beach: Leybato at Fajara. We made friends with a lifeguard named DooDoo aka Spiderman, and he lent us a few boogie boards. Akho finally admitted that he had no idea how to swim, so he stayed in the shallow areas, but Jean Marc and I went a little deeper and caught some pretty big waves in. I haven’t used a boogie board in years, but my childhood was characterized by riding boogie boards at the beach. For Jean Marc, however, that was his first time. After the waves tired us out, we went up to our favorite bar and got some JulBrews and sat and talked with DooDoo and another woman we met from the UK named Rachel. We had only planned on staying a few hours but the conversation was so stimulating and the beers just kept coming. We ended up ordering a few pizzas and staying for 5 hours. The bartender/waiter even had to shut off all the lights in order to get us out of there. It really was a wonderful day and gave me a new sense of motivation for the coming week.
Today I plan on reading more of “Long Walk to Freedom” by Nelson Mandela (I highly recommend it) and then attending a first communion after party (yes, those exist haha). I will be checking in soon, I hope you all are well!