Published: February 17th 2012February 17th 2012
After spending two days in NYC visiting an old friend from college and walking around the city taking in all of the sights and sounds, I rushed off (almost too late) to meet some of my traveling companions from Minnesota. I met my father, Books for Africa founder Tom Warth, and Lang Dibba (a Gambia living in MN) at JFK for the overnight flight to Dakar.
Africa really does begin on the plane, where Wolof (the regional native language) seems to be the primary language.
Dakar is a crazy place. Dust, pollution, crazy driving, street children everywhere. We met a friend of Lang's and spent a couple of hours at her house resting and eating while they worked to arrange a transport for our drive to The Gambia. Our transport was a beat up old Pegot B505 with a young Senagalise driver.
Roads in Africa are crazy. The farther you get from the house of the President, the worse they get. As Tom is fond of saying, only drunk people drive straight! There is no right side of the road to drive on we discover, only the side with the least amount potholes. It is election season in
Senegal and we were stopped many times by throngs of people rallying for different candidates.
It is after dark when we reach the Gambian boarder. Two Americans, a Brit and a Gambia driving in with a car overflowing with bags and boxes is maybe not a normal sight at this boarder crossing. They want to go through all of our stuff, especially the two boxes of medical supplies. After much back and forth with Lang they go and get the head of the customs office from his residence. This is where, for not the first and certainly not the last time, we are eternally gratefully to have Lang traveling with us. He knows the guy (A truly common occurrence in this small country). And like that we go from having to unload the car and have everything gone through to being escorted in for passport stamps and a round of great to meet you’s as we rushed to drive the last couple of miles… wondering if we had missed the last ferry to Banjul for the evening. We should have known better, schedule in Africa is more of a suggestion than an absolute.
There are more photos below