Goodbye to Africa
From Gambia we sailed for two days up the coast of Africa to The Gambia, a small, narrow country surrounded by Senegal and named after The Gambia River which flows through its middle. We docked in the capital city of Banjul, a port near the place where The Gambia River flows into the Atlantic Ocean.
Many, many vendors came to the pier and spread out their wares on mats. The women were dressed in colorful dresses and headwraps. Bead necklaces, clothing, and carved wooden animals were among the items for sale. There was even a seven foot high statue of a Gambian woman holding a basket on her head. Bargaining, rather than paying a fixed price, is the rule here. This custom plus the vigorous efforts of the vendors to attract attention to their wares made for a very lively atmosphere.
We also took the shuttle bus into town and visited the market where Gambians go to shop. There there were people selling fish, vegetables, and fruit, others making clothes on sewing machines and still other upholstering furniture.
We were impressed by the energy and friendliness of the Gambians we encountered. Everyone seemed to be living up to the country’s reputation as The Smiling Coast.
After a further two days at sea we arrived at Mindelo, São Vincente in Cape Verde, a country made up of small islands off the westernmost coast of Africa. These islands were created eons ago by volcanoes that erupted from the ocean floor. Portuguese settlers came here in the 5th century. For many years the islands were a vital part of the slave trade between Africa and the Americas.
The day of our visit being Sunday, the streets of Mindelo were almost deserted. We walked around admiring the old pastel-colored colonial buildings of the town and then returned to the ship.
From here we sail westward for four days across the Atlantic to Barbados. We are looking forward to these lazy days at sea.