Tuesday, December 8, 2009

How much I've changed

This is the first week in The Gambia...
This is the last week!
Its so sad to be leaving! I am very grateful for my time here, and the people who have touched my life in so many ways. But I am glad to go home and see my family and friends!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Our Farewell Party

On Saturday, we had a party to celebrate the end of our time in The Gambia. There was lots of food and a live band. All of our friends from the neighborhood and our classes came to the party.

Sunday, December 6, 2009


Tobaski is a Muslim holiday that celebrates Abraham's faith in God. Abraham was willing to sacrifice his son on God's command. At the last moment, God switched Abraham's son with a ram. Thus, Muslims worldwide commemorate this event by slaughtering a ram and feasting for three days. I had a new outfit made for the occasion.

Thanksgiving in The Gambia

This Thanksgiving, we celebrated on the beach! Later, we shared a turkey dinner with our Gambian friends and gathered around our tree of thanks. Please note Babucarr's attempts to carve the turkey.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

James Island

This weekend we visited James Island and Juffure village. We followed the path of the slave trade in The Gambia. We started at the Museum, then went on a Roots heritage trail. The Gambia was where Kunte Kinteh was born, he was a slave in Virginia and his ancestor Alex Haley wrote the book Roots. We walked along the Roots heritage trail which was the path the captured slave took, on their way to James Island. The above picture is where Kunte Kinteh lived.

We took a motor boat over to James Island, which was the final departure site for slaves.

The island was 3x the size, but erosion has taken it's toll. At James Island slaves were kept, sorted, then ships were boarded.
This was definitely a heavy day. To physically be where they had suffered, was heart breaking. The guides constantly told us to free our minds.

England abolished slavery in 1807, but that did not mean it stopped. Fort Bullon was built to fight ships taking slaves, and there are cannons along the river bank. James Island still operated through the 1830's. Slaves were told if they could escape and swim across the river and touch the freedom poll at the other side, they would be freed. Many tried, but most drowned. This picture shows how far they had to swim.

Sunday, November 1, 2009


Every year at St. Mary's we have a big Halloween party called Hallowgreens. The whole school comes and dresses up. We were all sad that we were missing Hallowgreens, so we decided to throw a party of our own for all the Gambian friends we've met so far. It was a really fun night, and most Gambians had no clue what Halloween was. They were so confused when they walked in to see us all dressed up. Here is a picture of all of the SMCM students in costume. There was coal minors, mother nature, and a ninja! We had very limited resources to make our costumes, and we only planned this party in two days. I ended up being a Tourist on a safari! And what a safari I had! I saw a lion, a dinosaur, and the resurrected Tupac (so that's where he's been hiding!)

Friday, October 30, 2009

So yesterday was my 20th birthday! Kaitlyn was super sweet and bought me a cake!! I had a really great night, they made me cards, and then we had cake. We went out to Fransicos a local restaurant, and then we went dancing. Everyone was really great to make my Gambian birthday memorable, so Thank You!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

A Day in the Life of a Tourist

Today, we went undercover as tourists in Senegambia. We paid around two dollars to use the beautiful beach side pool at the Senegambia Hotel. It had a fountain, diving board, and a swim up bar. It was quite a surreal experience. Toubabs were everywhere! It is disappointing to think that the majority of the European families that we saw today will never leave Senegambia to experience the true Gambia-with its poverty and friendly citizens. I imagine the situation as a form of neo-colonialism, repeated in tourist centers across Africa. After leaving the pool, Laura and I went to a Thai restaurant. The food was delicious! Tomorrow we head upcountry to Tumani Tenda and back to reality. Being a tourist was fun, but only for a day.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Bansang field trip

These are pictures from when I went upcountry to Bansang. Kaitlyn was supposed to come, it was a field trip for Environmental Management, but she fell ill the days before we left. We went there to learn about regional environmental issues. We visited the water treatment facility for the town of Bansang. It was slightly discouraging to see the poorly treated water go out to the village. The water had a high iron content due to the well, and that was being filtered out by sand and gravel. They had the equipment to treat the water with Chlorine gas, to kill the bacteria, but it has been broken and out of use for three years now. It was very interesting to see the Gambian students question the processes and the environmental and health impacts. I hope they will put all the information they have learned into action. We also explored the town and took ferry rides.
Unfortunately Meredith got food poisoning and we had to take her to the hospital and leave a day early. She is all better now, so do not worry. Kaitlyn is also feeling better!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Beach Days

We love to go to the beach. These are some pictures from two of our favorites. The top is Fajaro, it is more of a tourist beach area. It has wonderful hammocks and larger waves. The second is Sandplover, which I haven't seen a tourist at yet. It is so relaxing and there are no waves.
I just returned from Sandplover and it was a lovely time. We sunbathed, read, and went on a long beach walk. After we shopped for gifts at the Bakau crafts market. We found a lot of great things!

Friday, October 9, 2009

The World Cup

The President declared Wednesday a half holiday (afternoon off) because the World Cup was in the Gambia.  Not the games, just the cup.  We went to the national stadium (with about 5,000 Gambians) to see it.  We were there almost four hours.  There was singing and dancing and musical performers.  The entire army was there, complete with machine guns.  I believe that every child in the greater Banjul area was in attendance.  There were women selling peanuts and orange flavored ice cream in plastic bags.  After about three hours, the president arrived with the cup.  His entourage drove around the track twice, throwing boxes of biscuits into the crowds.  There was a whole group of people running after him.  Many of them passed out, as it was over 100 degrees.  And then, just as the president was about to make his speech and present the cup, a gigantic storm blew in.  Everyone left quickly.  It was so windy, you could barely open your eyes.  I was covered in dirt and trash picked up by the wind.  And it dropped like forty degrees in a matter of minutes.  Just another typical day in West Africa.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

African Dancing

A cultural dance troup came to sing, drum, and dance for us on our roof. We learned some sweet african dance moves since they had us dance with them!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Tumani Tenda cont.

Tumani Tenda is an eco-tourism camp. They were recognized for their long conserved forests, and their community garden. The village works in a unique way to make group decisions and run the camp. Tourists can come and stay the night, which is what we did this weekend. We got there a little late due to a flat tire, so we only got to speak to the village elder and walk along the garden. Above is the beautiful sunset and then us beauts! Kaitlyn's pictures are of the mangrove forest along the Gambian river. We woke up at sunrise and walked along the river.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Global Unification

While we were at PowerShift in March, Laura and I signed up to host an event for 350.org while in the Gambia.  Recently, we discovered that there was already a 350 event in the works for the Gambia.  Today we meet with staff members from the group in charge of the event.  We are going to help the group, called Global Unification, to plan and fundraise for the event, which runs from October 21st through October 24th.  There will be a neighborhood cleanup, tree planting, an educational symposium, and a demonstration and concert.  I'm very excited to be helping Global Unification with their efforts.  Now, where to find $11,ooo?

Tumani Tenda

Here are some pictures from Tumani Tenda-more to follow later.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Happy Camp

I realized we never actually showed you any pictures of Happy Camp (where we live).
Here is our room: The giraffe came with the room, and we named him Trevor.

Here is the balcony: We are the tallest tower on the street. We call it Tubab Tower.
Here is the living room: We are taking drumming lessons from Lamin, the man in blue. This is the first of two weeks of lessons. We are getting pretty good, if i do say so myself :)

Wednesday, September 23, 2009


Since we have arrived in The Gambia, local Muslims have been fasting as part of the month of Ramadan.  One neither eats nor drinks from sunrise to sunset.  Dancing, drumming, and singing are also prohibited.  Last Saturday, on the last day of Ramadan, Laura and I fasted.  It is not difficult to go for a day without eating.  Not drinking in 100 degree heat, however, is quite challenging.  Regardless of the challenges, we made it through the day.  Koriteh, a festival which celebrates the end of Ramadan, occurred on Sunday and Monday.  We all put on our Gambian clothes and visited our friend Hatibu's compound for lunch.  In the evening, our language teacher, Awa Ceesay, took Laura and I to visit my namesake, or tomeh.  My tomeh, who is also named Kombe Sarr (of course), lives in a part of the city called Bakau.  Kombe and her family were very welcoming.  On Koriteh, in the evening, children traditionally go around to compounds and ask for sweets and coins.  It is in some ways similar to Halloween.  On our way back from Bakau, Laura and I saw hundreds of children on Kairaiba Avenue spending their coins on ice cream.  Since the end of Ramadan, everyone seems happier and more friendly.  They are happy to done fasting-at least until next year.  Pictures included are:  eating lunch at Hatibu's house, me admiring Hatibu's pet parrot, some of Hatibu's relatives, me and the other Kombe Sarr, and Kombe's husband.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

The day to day...

Just in case it sounded like we had constant activities, I wanted to make some corrections! After class on rainy days there is nothing to do, but stay in the compound. So, we have to get a little creative. Make shift twister:

On beautiful days we will head to the beach after class. And on lazy days we sit around and read. Soon I won't have as much free time because of service learning projects. I hope to teach high school Biology and help with the University's lab facilities. Kaitlyn wants to get an internship with a local Environmental agency. But for now, sitting around reading isn't have bad.

Monday, September 14, 2009

The Artist Village

One of my favorite things we have done so far has been a tie-dye workshop at the Artist Village. The artist's name is Babukar, and he lives here with his wife and children. The property used to be a village, but the people moved because there was bad luck there. When Babukar moved in, the place was run down, but he turned the village into his next art project. He planted trees and flowers, and built houses out of natural materials. The Hut shown is one of the possible rooms guests can stay in and it was painted by the SMCM group of Fall 2007 (Shane Hall). This was one of the most beautiful places I have ever been, and I really want to go back for a weekend.
The tie-dying workshop was a great success! We learned different techniques, and the colors were so bright! You can see the fabric I dyed in the post of clothes, Kaitlyn and I made ours into skirts. The first picture is of Babukar (in blue) and he is demonstrating photo-emulsion screenprinting.