2014-Feb. 10 Arrive in The Gambia!
Finally I arrive in The Gambia – in fact, ½ hour earlier than scheduled. I look around at the throngs of people getting into either the ECOWAS passenger line, a Gambian Nationals Line or one for All Others – I am in the All Others line for customs processing.
I completed the required form while on the plane so I am ready for processing, passport/VISA ready.
Passing through customs I meet several baggage handlers eager to get my business. I select someone I don’t know. The man I am used to working with is not on duty today.
We locate my bags – the multi-colored strap around my bags makes identification a breeze. I only wish I had taken a picture of all of the travelers, baggage handlers, security folks present so that you could see how chaotic it seems to me now.
After collecting my bags, and going through screening I enter into the airport lobby. No Essa. I start to feel that sinking feeling and wonder if he forgot me.
A man gently tugs at my shirt – it is Lamin Camara, an Airport Security ID Unit from the airport. He says he has been looking for me since the plane set down. Essa is on his way I am told. Ah, the feeling of peace.
We sit down and I order a Coca-Cola, Fanta and a Malta for Essa. He does arrive at the airport in short time and we enjoy a beverage together. The plane between Dakar and Banjul did not serve water or juice so I am thirsty!
On to greet the family in Banjulinding. As a Gambian custom, it is important to greet the family before starting your business here. Actually it is one of my favorite customs..family first, then business.
It is late, about 9:45pm when we arrive in Banjulinding (which is near the airport) and greet Binta Badjie, Essa’s mother and the rest of his family – brothers and sister.
We talk and I share my stories about traveling from the USA to The Gambia.
It is about 11:30 pm when we get to Y2K, a self-contained flat in Latrikunda, where I will stay for most of the 2 weeks that I am here. We have reserved a two bedroom flat. There is a kitchen, dining area, sitting room equipped with electricity, television, generator back-up and a good security system.
I get to bed about 1 am. Exhausted, but happy I am finally here.