Apr 19

family tree alex haley

family tree alex haley

Smiling Coast of Africa

This is how they call a coast of Gambia – the smallest country of African mainland. Probably the quickest and cheapest option when you want to catch Carribean-like sun in the middle of European winter.

The country known today officially as “The Gambia”, before tourist appeared there, had been known due to its interesting but sad history. For ages colony of Portugal, France, England, even Courland – Polish Vassals (it was the only time when Poland had someting to do with colonies, although probably no Pole knew anything about it), it was a place from where probably hunreds of thousands of slaves where shipped to New World and Europe.

In sixties famous American writer, Alex Haley, visited the country as his family and main character of his book, Kunta Kinta, were coming from here.

Locals tricked their rich, black American brother a bit and showed him a village where, according to them, Kunta Kinte was born. To these days tourist visit Juffureh although it is rather impossible that Haley’s ancestor lived next to a slave factorium.

Remains of slave trade are one of main tourist “attractions” of the country, but fortunately The Gambia has much more to offer.

First – the seaside. Long stretches of yellow sand, not so crowded like elsewhere, give you a possibility of resting, getting quick suntan, playing ball games with locals or horse riding. Sunbeds belong to hotels and if you stay in one of them, you get your sunbed for free. There are “Beach Boys”, who work sometimes just for tips. They will provide you with a sun bed, play volleyball with you, build a sand castle for your kid or organize for you a lesson of drumming.

There are restaurants along the beach which cook well and relatively cheap. You can have one of traditional Gambian dishes or something international. And good Gambian lager called “Julbrew”. No pints, rather smaller measures, as it gets warm quickly, when you eat outside.

But there are more attractions than beach and sea. We recommend you to visit Katchikali – saint pool with crocodiles. One can even touch one of them. Its name is always Charlie and it is crocodile-vegetarian. It is being fed with fish and it is not interested in humans meat.

In Katchikali they have also small but interesting exposition about local history and tradition. The country although predominantly Muslim, still takes a lot from its African tradition and you can provide yourself sometimes with “Juju” – a kind of amulet used for various purposes.

Those who want more fun can go to Monkey Park, a piece of jungle which main inhabitants are groups of small monkeys. Perfect beggers, except those red ones who live high on trees and are afraid of humans. But their brown brothers, once you will give them a nut, will follow you till the end of your visit. They do not bite, only raise their hands to get a treat.

If you are ready for bigger emotions go to Snake Farm. Yes, it is a place where you can touch or even place a specimen of constrictor around your neck! No worries, the creature realizes humans are to big to swallow them, so it does not try to strangle… There are many more other animals, not only snakes, some of them quite dangerous, but those we can watch only from behind the glass or net. And a Frenchman who leads this enterprise is also very interesting character, one could write a book about.

How to get there? There are several travel companies who organize trips to Gambia. We chose two week package holiday of Thomas Cook who used to work for travelers on this continent already in XIX century. And a price was very reasonable. Last minute offer for a family of two adults and a child cost about £1350 and could be even cheaper, if we had decided earlier – becouse very late deal was in this case slightly more expensive.

For this price we got two week stay in “Badala Park Hotel” with breakfasts, flights and transfers.

The hotel is quite simple, although clean, with friendly, helpful staff, good swimming pool and placed in huge garden. There are a lot birds around, so the hotel is well known for bird watchers among whom Gambia is popular at all.

You can read more stories like this and see some photos at www.onmyisland.com

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