Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Day 20

Day 20 1/22
Today was supposed to be a nice relaxing final day. It turned out the complete opposite. Our wake up was earlier than usual and our breakfast was to be at 8:00. When we got to the house I noticed that Muhammad was just starting on breakfast. We skipped breakfast and went straight to the school. It was interesting to see the difference between Tendaba and this school. The school was much larger and was funded completely different. Each student had to pay ­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­12,000 Dalasi for their tuition and books. Officials at the school were very friendly and open about our visit to the school. Although there were many students and teachers their facilities were still a little drab, but the learning atmosphere was much better than the schools at Tendaba Camp. We then left the school and headed back to the house where breakfast was waiting for us. Everyone was still dressed to impress being that we were to attend the Parliament for our rescheduled visit. When we got to Parliament we found out that we again would not be able to go inside and this time the reasoning was remodeling. So while we were in Banjul we ran a few other errands for individuals. Matt needed to go to the Police station in order to trade patches for some foreign ones. With the few cancellations we were able to get to enjoy a free afternoon. We traveled back to the house where we changed into our swim suits and headed for the beach. It was pretty early and the sun was hot. The waves again were powerful and we could not stay in the water for too long. We had the usual lunch again of a chicken sandwich and chips. If they gave us more chicken meat than chicken cartilage or bones the meal would have been half decent, BUT there was very little chicken on the sandwich and the service was awful. After lunch we relaxed for a bit longer and got into the water a few more times. Josh, Justin, Matt, Josh, and I were going to play a football game with a local boy who set up nets with his sandals and two sticks. As we were starting to play Matt and Joshed noticed a very large crowd gathered down the beach, so they decided to go and check it out. Justin, Josh, the local boy, and I continued to play. He was about 13 years old and his dream was to play football professionally. He definitely had the attitude to play in the majors because he insisted that he was going to score immediately. Playing in the sand was quite difficult because we could not get any footing and also the flat ball bounced randomly. Awhile later Matt and Josh came back and told us of some bad news. The reason for the gathering was because someone had drowned in the ocean and they were still searching for the person. When Matt and Josh had gotten to the place where everyone was gathered people were insisting that they go into the water to look for the person too. They wisely declined and noticed that not many people were able to swim out past where the waves were breaking. The search continued for the person and random buoys appeared to be hands waving for help; many people were fooled by these buoys. What surprised me the most was the lack of support in the water. There were a total of two boats in the water. One arrived about 30 minutes after the people began to gather and the other arrived close to an hour later. One man looked at us and said that’s why he liked white people, implying that we can afford boats to help out the locals in times of need. This occurance hit the group pretty hard, we wanted to help but we were unable to swim out into the ocean without any type of floatation device. So we had to stand along the shore helpless. I began to ask questions and some people replied that this in not an uncommon event. They suggested that about 2 to 3 people drown in the area per year. With this high amount of people drowning I figured that the area would be better prepared to react to emergencies of this type. The two boats that were out there we not even rescue boats they were simply boats owned by locals or boats owned by resorts in the area. When the tension had finally settled we had a new problem on our hands. Jesse who had bough a book earlier in the day was accused of stealing the book from the store. The owner of the store tracked him down at the beach about 6 hours after he had bought the book. The book was not cheap either, it cost him 600 dalasi for the book the first time and the owner insisted that he pay 600 dalasi and give him the book back. Our professor was not at the beach at the time, but we called him immediately. We were afraid Jesse was going to be taken to prison so some individuals tried to stall until Buba came. It was quite tense for awhile because the police did nothing to help and allowed everyone to argue. The whole thing was a scam to get more money out of us. Even when they were discussing the issues some people hung around trying to get money out of the situation any way possible. This frustrated us greatly and turned some people away from the whole Gambian society. We knew that the government was corrupt but we hadn’t experience any locals trying to scam us. After the situation was resolved we got on the bus and headed for home. We were to pack our bags and go to dinner where we shared thoughts of the trip and experiences that touched us. Tomorrow will be mostly a travel day where we have to be awake at 5 so that we can make our ferry in order to get into Dakar at a reasonable time.

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