Day 4 - 'Roots Tour'
09.02.2009 - 09.02.2009 34 °C
Another early start and a packed day ahead. Alex was our guide again for this tour which covers the history of slavery and would take us to the Northern part of Gambia.
We drove to Banjul where we waited to go on the local ferry to Barra. Whilst waiting there for Alex to get the tickets, a 'bumster' snatched the sandal from my Dad's foot and proceeded to stitch it up pretending that it needed mending when we knew that it didn't. We kept telling this guy to stop and that didn't want it done but he carried on and wanted money. It took 5 of us to tell this guy not to do any more and that my Dad didn't want the other sandal doing. This was the 'worst' experience with a 'bumster' that we had luckily.
Soon the ferry arrived and we made our way onto it. There were masses of people making the crossing and it was great to see this and experience it.
We arrived in Barra an hour later (usually the crossing takes 30-40 mins but as were were going against the current it took longer). From there we drove to the village of Juffureh and Albreda which are opposite each other. On the way we went along many bumpy rodes which was fun in the jeep and saw some beautiful scenery. We passed by more villages and saw more children and many ran after the jeep when they heard it. Managed to give them some stuff.
The tour is based on the author Alex Haley's bestseller book called 'Roots' whereby he tried to trace his ancestral roots. The villages were trading centres for slaves as well as Gold and Ivory. We had a look in the small museum there which had an exhibition of the slave trade. It told the history and origin of the slave trade to its abolition.
Afterwards we travelled by canoe to James island (where there was a slave prison) which was one of the first European settlements in West Africa.
The remains of the trading fort are still there although crumbling. We went into the small room where many slaves were cramped in (was sad to see). We walked round the small island and a local guide explained the history of the island and what took place there.
We headed back to Albreda/Juffureh and had an experience trying to clamber out of the canoe onto the pier. The locals thought we could somehow stretch our legs right up onto the pier (which was much higher than the canoe). We couldn't so they had to get a ladder whereby 1 person held one end down on the river bed and another held the other side down and another person helped us up the ladder. It was rather slippery and a bit of a struggle but fun. I was the first woman to go up as the rest were really scared. I thought what the heck the worst that could happen is that I fall into the river hehehe.
Once ashore we had a delicious lunch of fish and rice and then moved on to see a Banana plantation.
This was very interesting as it was nice to see how the owner maintained and grow things using simple equipment. He is waiting for some water pipes to help with irrigation of the soil.
We also saw the Palm tree and the palm nuts. We saw a boy scale a tree to collect the fruit of the Palm.
The owner also showed us the Palm oil which is very coloured and stains easily.
At about 6pm we caught the ferry back from Barra to Banjul and were taken to our hotels. A very enjoyable and interesting tour. Alex was great as usual.
We had our dinner in the hotel restaurant. The food on the menu is pretty reasonable and as we had a long day we didn't want to venture out. Jainaba, our lovely waitress was there with her lovely smile and we told her all about our day.
Tired and exhausted we had an early night.