Greetings from The Gambia. I am finally here and starting to get settled into the Gambian way of life, which is slow, slow, slow, rush, rush, rush!!! I have started with a very nice bunch of volunteers from a mix of countries. For the first few days we were overwhelmed with information about Gambia and its culture and so much more it made our heads spin!
Gambia is an amazing place. At the moment we are in the Kombos, which is the tourist area. It's very western and lots of 'toubabs' (foreigners) around. I have visited a few markets, unlike anything back home. Lots of 'bumsters' around wanting to talk to you and try to sell you things. Some are very nice and funny others find it very difficult to take NO for an answer. However, all the Gambians I've met so far are very friendly and are always happy and smiling. Such a contrast to Glasgow. The markets are hectic and crowded and full of noise and little stalls crammed into corners. Bartering is a way of life in these places and can be quite fun! I managed to get an item down from D250 to D225 (dalasi)......Result! Think I may need to work on my skills slightly.
Yesterday we moved out of our luxury hotel with free wi-fi and hot water and into the VSO house and bucket showers for the rest of our training. 7 of us crammed into 4 bedrooms, so far it's been fun but it is only Day 2. Today was also Day 2 of our language training. I am learning Mandinka and it's been quite good fun so hopefully it will prepare me for up country in Basse. "Ah! very hot", is the standard phrase from any Gambian I tell where I am going.
I have also been given my first Gambian name - Alimatu. Apparently, it's very common to be given one and all the volunteers, new and exisiting, have each been given one. My compound family in Basse will christen me too. I have been told that my accommodation will be a round hut, so for those of you that said I'd be living in a mud hut you may not be far wrong!
That's all for now. I'll post more soon.
Kayira be (Peace be upon you)