26 C
City of Banjul
Friday, October 23, 2020

Geography 101– Class 2

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I know you’re thinking we’ve gone through here before. Yes it’s Westfield Junction again in all its pomp and glory! You will notice some strange looking men standing by the “Avenue” unambiguously trying to conceal what looks like a weapon. I know you Americans are quick to shoot first and then ask questions later so I’ll clear the air by telling you it’s a simple Casio calculator.

These are our traders and this is our Wall Street. Unlike Wall Street, West Field Junction has no history of trading slaves. These traders deal in every currency known to man. Most of them have never seen the four walls of a classroom but can, in the blink of an eye, bring our economy to its knees. So it’s some form of illegal trade in cash which goes unchecked because, come on … some of these traders have more foreign currency underneath their mattresses than most of our commercial banks. However, be a good citizen of the world and let’s change your dollars and pounds at the bureau de change on your left.I know you’re thinking we’ve gone through here before.

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Yes it’s Westfield Junction again in all its pomp and glory! You will notice some strange looking men standing by the “Avenue” unambiguously trying to conceal what looks like a weapon. I know you Americans are quick to shoot first and then ask questions later so I’ll clear the air by telling you it’s a simple Casio calculator.

These are our traders and this is our Wall Street. Unlike Wall Street, West Field Junction has no history of trading slaves. These traders deal in every currency known to man. Most of them have never seen the four walls of a classroom but can, in the blink of an eye, bring our economy to its knees. So it’s some form of illegal trade in cash which goes unchecked because, come on …

some of these traders have more foreign currency underneath their mattresses than most of our commercial banks. However, be a good citizen of the world and let’s change your dollars and pounds at the bureau de change on your left.We’ll take the risk of traffic and join the queue heading to Serekunda Market. Now, this is the king of all markets in The Gambia. You are forced to revel in the magnitude of its presence! You can brag of your skyscrapers but this is our market of magnificence.

I would have loved to help you seek a bargain but this is why you are a semester. There is an old saying in The Gambia about cattle and eating where they are tied…or perhaps it was sheep. Regardless, I am sure you will understand what it means. Oh and in case you’re wondering, that’s the Iphone 16 in the hands of the little boy selling phones on the side. Yes Iphone 16! You will discover that this part of the world is much more advanced than wherever it is you come from.

It’s a triple SIM too, so you can easily fit in your Africell, QCell and Gamcel lines…and if you are planning on being a van driver plying the Baayul Baayul route, then perhaps you’d want to buy the fourple sim Iphone 16 for your Comium line.Right past the market, you’ll see our very own Aisha-Marie Cinema Hall. Do Not…I repeat in a much louder voice…Do Not make the mistake of taking your date here to see the latest Hollywood Blockbuster. The space which was once a centre for school plays and the occasional Indian or Chinese movie without subtitles is now a centre for EPL games. If you’re an Arsenal fan I am sure you won’t need to take the trip. We all know how this season ends for you guys – fourth or nothing at all.

I know it has taken us an hour to move for two hundred meters. This is the exact spot where my car almost burned up. That car is cursed! First the radiator gave up on me in bumper to bumper traffic and then a cashew tree fell on it…out of nowhere. Ok it wasn’t out of nowhere but how many times has a cashew tree fallen on any tree? So I would have used it to pick you up at the airport but who drives a semester in a cursed car!Oh snap! We almost missed the Mall of The Gambia. What beauty…

what monumental beauty, in the middle of the craziest traffic zone in town. I am sure the investor is kicking himself in the foot. Market vendors have decided to turn the entire place into a fight club. It seems every time I cross this route, someone is picking a fight with someone else. Let’s avoid this whole setup and head to the nicer part of town. Yes, we turn right and head for Bakoteh!So we have a rule in this part of town. Police officers are on the watch out for anyone crazy enough to look right. Please keep looking left. Yes that’s your left…and right there, that’s the S.O.S Children’s Village.

No, you didn’t! I told you not to look right! Ummmm….that? Well…it’s an…ummmm…it’s a temporary dumping site for urban Gambia. How long? Well it’s been a temporary dumping site for a few years now. *coughs* Okay a little more than few years. You see, we’ve been making arrangements to move it for a while now but things just keep happening. That’s the way it is in this part of the world. We plan things and then the devil comes through and decides to knock it all down. So, yeah…don’t give me that lecture about how a dumping site as nasty, unhealthy and hazardous as this can be located in the middle of town and right opposite a children’s centre. If you ask anyone they’ll explain to you that the people found the dumping site here. You know, we weren’t planning to live here. We were all just en route to Banjul and we found this big crater in the middle of the forest and we decided to take a rest.

This rest has lasted decades. So now we’re stuck with asthma and chest infections and all these other white man diseases and its all our fault. I mean you can’t really blame the garbage man. He doesn’t even have enough fuel for his donkey cart to go a step further.So we’ll skip through all of this Bakoteh scenery before they start burning the trash. Now that’s the fireworks of it all but we’ll save it for another trip.

We’ve skipped an important section of town between what we call the “traffic lights” and “Duplex Junction” but that’s all for a good reason. We save the best for last. I know you must be super exhausted from all this touring but there’s no “welcome to The Gambia” tour without a drive down tali bu bess towards the famous Senegambia junction. Tali Bu Bess is Wolof for “the new road”. You will notice that tali bu bess already has potholes the size of Kali Gandaki Gorge. It’s a safe driving mechanism put in place by contractors to ensure that drivers slow down when they’re on the road.

I know many people don’t know that but we can be super smart when we want to be. Who wants to spend a fortune building speed bumps when you can just have poor enough roads for the cars to create their own speed pits. We created it and we own it and we’re patenting it now! Speed Pit – (noun) As the name implies; a pit of several found on relatively new Gambian highways and roads used specifically to encourage safe driving and to avoid road accidents.

It is the younger version of the bigger and much wider speed gorge and you will frequently find community workers piling rocks and stones into them for some cash. It is also a good source of income for communities.Example – I drove from Petroleum House to the Brusubi Galp station and I came across no speed pit. Yaaay!Well past the horrors of roads past, I welcome you to the diamond in the rough. This right here is Senegambia Junction. You will notice some semi-stern military presence here. That is to keep riff raffs like me out and semesters like you in. Of course riff-raffs do not include prostitutes and bumsters.

 

Those are a key element of the industry. Without them, our tourist haven wouldn’t be a haven. It would be a…tourist site? How boring does that sound? Welcome to The Gambia…your favourite tourist site! If I wrote an ad for Destination Gambia without bumsters and prostitutes, it would say: “Welcome all ye almost broke people! Care for a holiday without fraternising with hustlers? Care for a sex free vacation? Care for a destination without being bothered by the locals? Care for your own square metre of peace? Well I’ve got you! Destination Gambia…No easy sex…no locals…you don’t even need to bring a condom!”…… To be continued
TGBA

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