Packo, Petrol and Piccadilly

In the Lounge Watching Packo
March 20th, 11:06pm GMT

It is hard to go anywhere in the Gambia without hearing about Packo. Saturday night at 10:30 the country stops for an hour to watch a cheesy B-grade Italian soap opera with poor English dubs. The 5 minute commercials offer some relief. It is almost as intriguing as Gambia’s obsession with Celine Dion. It is amazing what unexpected things people will latch-on to. Maybe I'm just missing something...

March 22nd, 11:36pm GMT

For those who enjoy a good day of bureaucratic process, last Friday I traveled to the Banjul police station. 3 hours, 10 officials and 100 Dalais ($5) later I had obtained a license to drive motorbikes in Gambia.

It is a scary thought to me (and likely my mom) knowing I have very limited riding experience and the undeniable reality of how things work on the roads here. Yet, it has become a practical necessity for traveling between rural properties and dropping visitors at transport hubs.

On today’s journey I learned an important lesson about checking the fuel tank. In my defense there wasn’t even enough to get to the gas station as I've discovered the locals aren’t in the habit of leaving much in the tank for the next rider.

Earlier on Saturday I was in Piccadilly, a poor suburb of Banjul, visiting with long time friends. Here money is hard to come by and conditions are rough. Spending time exploring new Mandinka vocab, drinking ataiya and getting a shave with a straight razor hardly seem like a day’s work, however, they are always precursor’s to deeper more intimate conversations about family betrayal, witchcraft and dark secrets from the minds of the poor and their oppressors.

There are times when the situations seem so dire, it is easy to be overwhelmed. From a distance it is easy to shrug shoulders and wash your hands problem and it is for this reason I travel. Though I don’t know the best way forward, by grace my heart left in peace and a spark of belief that there are great things to come.

In other news…

Josh has arrived safely and has been quick to adjust to African life thought there are always plenty things to learn.

Tomorrow I travel to a garden in Bwiam with many from the compound and a few friends. I hope to inspire people as to what is possible.

Miss you all and thanks for your support.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Can't wait to see a picture of this vehicle you are riding and I suppose you are not wearing a helmet. Take care!