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Visit to the fishing town of Tanje

Home -> Africa -> Gambia -> Travelogue Gambia -> 16 January 2005

Sunday 16 January, visit to the fishing town of Tanje

At breakfast we discuss what we will do today, since we have no plans and, in fact, no idea. We haven't been to the crocodile pond Katchikally at Bakau yet, but we have heard from several people that it is not really worthwhile and we have already seen crocs at the Abuko national park. A visit to Tanje (also spelled Tanji) is a possibilty, a fishing port to the south.
Berend and Agnes have the same problem deciding what they are going to do, so we decide to take a taxi together to go to Tanje, but this time we want an open jeep. While we are still bargaining a jeep is arranged already and arrives at the hotel a few minutes later. This time we agree to a price of 400 Dalasi while the driver will wait for us as long as we want. Our driver barely speaks any English, something we haven't encountered often yet. Most people, at least those who work with tourists, speak English. It is also the official language of The Gambia, but naturally only people who have attended school speak it.
Tanje TanjeAfter half an hour driving on dusty roads we arrive at Tanje, a small village on the ocean shore. On the edge of the village we see dozens of refrigerators, without electricity, with numbers written on them. Here the fish is conserved in large ice cubes. Probably every family has it's own freezer.
TanjePeople of the Wolof tribe live here and the biggest part of the male population is fisherman. At night they sail onto the ocean and are welcomed in the morning by the women who carry the catch onto the beach. We have heard that is quite a spectacle, since they are all running into the water to be the first to get hold of the catch, but then you have to be here very early, between 7 and 8. Now all the boats lie tied up before the coast.
TanjeOn the beach we sea several women with piles of fish that need to be cleaned and are gathered in baskets. They don't seem to be bothered by us, walking by and looking at them, but we are quickly noticed by the children of the village.
At Tanje At TanjeAnd soon we are surrounded by a group of shrieking kids who want to give us a hand and walk along. Especially the little ones just want to walk with us, hand in hand, and soon the four of us have each one or two children by the hand.
At Tanje At TanjeThe older kids obviously all visit school since their English is quite good. Since it is a sunday, they have a day off. Education is still not compulsory in The Gambia, but we have heard (next to other stories, so we don't know whether it is true), that parents don't have to pay school fees for girls.
At Tanje At TanjeThe children like to pose for our camera's so we can take lots of photographs, and when they find out that you can look on the display they become totally enthousiastic. One boy insists that we take the picture from the camera and give it to him, a logical thought: when you can see the picture it must be somewhere inside. It takes quite a lot of explaining to convince him it doesn't work like that.
At TanjeThe grown-ups have kept their distance, but come closer when they see that we want to give the children a biscuit. Berend has made sure he has enough biscuits with him for everybody and since we don't have enough pens, this eems to be a good alternative. One mother helps distributing so all goes quite orderly. The kids, who haven't asked for anything yet, are very happy.
Young fisherman At TanjeWe don't take photographs too openly, it is embarrasing at a place like this, but sometimes we ask if it is allowed and sometimes I just push the button while I have the camera dangling in my hand. We get a lot of slant pictures but also some nice ones, like this of a boy sitting on a board in the sea.
At Tanje Cleaning fishOr these women, cleaning the fish on the beach. Only a small part of the fish is for their own use, part of it is being dried and smoked at the edge of the village. From there it is loaded into trucks and transported to other places, no only inside the Gambia, but also to countries like Guinea-Bissau.
Cleaning fishThis man, who is preparing the fish before they are laid on the grids to smoke it, we ask whether we can take a picture. He likes it very much, but the man sitting next to him nods his head and steps aside. They are all very friendly and don't ask for anything in return.
After having walked around for more than an hour we want to move on and say goodbye to the children. We are still amazed that they haven't been nagging and asking for pencils or money. But then one asks if we want to by a football for them. No, says a bit older boy, don't do that, we would only fight about the ball and argue whose property it is. A very wise child, indeed! But we get the address of the school and we promise to send them the pictures.
It is quite an adventure, walking through this village and we are very glad we have come here.
Paradise beachWhen we try to explain the driver that we would like to drive on the beach for some time, he nods yes, but we have no idea if he understands what we want. He drives on the normal road on to the south and finally stops at Paradise Beach, a very fine beach, where we take a break and have a drink. The driver apparently thought we wanted to see a nice beach...
Along the road Mosque under constructionOn the way back we try to explain it again to him and this time he seems to get the idea. In the village of Burfur he turns to the beach, but when we come near the beach it doesn't seem possible because of the high tide. So we go back to the road, where there is also enough to see. We throw our last pencils out of the car when we see children.
Gas station Modern houseNear our hotel is a very modern gas station, but the most look like this. We notice that there are lots of very luxurious houses along this road, always insulated by walls or fences. Not only a lot of foreigners live here, but also the richer Gambian diplomats.
Moving?Our trip has taken quite some time and we are glad when we get off at Elton's, 'our' gas station to have a cold drink and do some shopping. There we see this car, a fine example of how things can be transported without a truck, as sight which can be seen throughout the African continent. People may be poor, but they are very inventive.
Back at the hotel we sit together for a while and for some reason we start to talk about food. And we get a real appetite from that. We o to the beach for a short time, but soon look for a restaurant where we can already eat some soup. Not much later we return to the hotel for dinner, much earlier than we use to do.
At night I go to Salifu, to talk for an hour or so. We haven't seen much of him, the last two days, and he is a very nice man. Not even once he has asked for something, nor offered to take us on trips or so, totally different than most of the men who work here. Most claim to be gardener but don't seem to have a problem taking a day off to escort tourists to wherever they want as long as they get money for it. Salifu like cola, so I take two bottles for him and take a beer myself. A nice way to conclude this nice day!


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