Creeks of the Gambia

Andy Gibb
Mon 3 Jan 2011 17:41
We are at 13:15.87N 16:12.77W and if you look this up on the map you will find it is about 2 miles away from the Bintag Bolong a tributary of the mighty Gambia River. This is because the earlier surveryers were fantastically accurate with their sextants but even so a difference of 2 miles makes a chart almost unusable - unless you do as we did, and follow it using a form of symmetry so we know the shape of the river, whether it curves left or right, we just dont know exactly wehre we are.
After a fantastic Christmas with James (we had Christmas dinner in Mindori Creek 50 miles up the Gambia and miles from anywhere), we motored back to Lamin near the mouth of the Gambia, had a lovely evening firedance, then James left to return to cold England. Martin and Jonny flew in on New Years Eve - they will be with us on the trans Atlantic crossing to Guyanas. 2 yachts had arrived at Lamin that day so we arranged with Peter for a New Years Eve Party which was tremendous, complete with fireworks provided courtesy of the hotels about 5 miles west on the Atlantic coast, and a few from Lamin Lodge whihc almost set the Lodge alight, luckily Intrepid was about 150 metre away. Mahmoud laid on a party for us the next day, which was vey kind of him, about 75 children and adults danced away as the Intrepid crew tried the rythyms than tried drumming both with limited success but plenty of enthusiasm.
We went to Albreda next day - where Alex Haley traced his Roots - an old Portugese/French slave trading post where Kunta Kinte, Alex Haly's 17 year old ancestor was traded as a slave and ended up in Virginia in 1770. The village was placed fimrly on the tourist map with Haley's book, but there is now much more competition, visitors are down by half, and even though they have a generator and lines (paid for I understand by Haley), the village cant afford the fuel. Its a little desperate as it tires to get money from tourists - we as independant tourists are much more lucrative than tour groups wo negotiate the price right down.
Then up Bintang Bolong to Bwiam where I bought 2 fish from Masarai, who then showed s round this sprawling village, including the road built to the river so that the Presidnet wife who was pregnant could get to hospital in Banjul by river without having to use the awful teeth jarring south bank road. The President comes from 9 kms from here, he is a Jola (a minority tribe) and Maserai helped us buy bananas, peanuts, and sweet potatoes, then we admired the new hospital, then vivisted his family compound where we bought a string bag and 2 kilos of lemons. Fantastic, Really wonderful visit, Jonny and Martin beaming as they pilot Intrepid down river on a falling tide. Apocalypse Now has nothing on Intrepid navigating through the mudflats.