Gambia seemed to be safe a safe place to travel to and open for tourists from all over the world. We were looking forward to meeting very friendly people, who love to laugh and take life easy. We knew our destination, so the next step was to find the right accommodation. We did not want to go on an package holiday with a big company, so we decided to organise it ourselves.
On the same site -“My Gambia” we came across a perfect place called “Pelka House”. It was exactly what we were looking for! “Pelka House”, although situated in a typical, African village called Wullinkama, offers European standard accomodation including TV, AC ,Wi-fi, outdoor pool, warm water and a power generator.
This guesthouse is situated not far from the ocean and the most popular tourist centre Senegambia. It is also easy to reach Serrekunda, one of Gambia’s biggest cities, from this location.
On a very cold winter morning we boarded a direct flight from Brussels to Banjul – the capital city. In the evening we found ourselves in a very hot Gambian airport full of helpful, smiling people. We immediately felt the incredibly vibrant atmosphere of the Smiling Coast. Outside we saw a young man, with the most friendly smile, waiting for us. He introduced himself as Buba the driver of “Pelka House”.
After 15 minutes drive we entered a very colourful village full of kids playing on the streets.
Wullinkama has almost everything: a taxi garage, shops, tailors, hairdresser, restaurant, and a local market. We saw that everything we needed could be found around our apartment.
On the way we stopped by a small shop to buy water, when we realised that we had no Gambian money and we couldn’t pay with euros or credit card, “No problem you can pay tomorrow, I know Pelka House guest are always good people” said the shop keeper with a very friendly smile .
There were some kids playing on the side of the road, greeting us, waving to us and shouting:” toubab, toubab”. Thinking that it must mean “hello” or “how are you” it was the first word that I said to the manager of Pelka House… and I was surprised to see that he started laughing. Finally, Batty, the manager, explained to me that it means “a white person” So now I know!
We crossed the gate and found ourselves in a charming garden full of different plants and trees, it looked magical at night, with the sky full of stars. It was exactly what we expected after seeing the photos. Batty showed us the swimming pool, the sun-beds with umbrellas, a small mini market and a grill where they could cook any fresh fish from the local market for us. We felt really hungry and liked this idea a lot. It was time to settle in.
We entered our apartment called “Green” – beside this one there were 7 others available, all named after different colours like Red, Yellow, Blue etc. The colourful names captured the apartments moods. The whole place was really clean and comfortable. Our apartment had a big living room, two bedrooms, a kitchen, a bathroom, a small balcony and was fully furnished, and we were very happy with the free Internet access. We realised that we had got ourselves a great deal! The price we paid was really fair and perfect for our tight budget – less than 20 Euros for both of us per night.
We liked Pelka House a lot and we felt at home there.
Then time came for our adventure! Gambia, although the smallest country in continental Africa, has a lot to offer. We visited many great places like Abuko Nature Reserve, Kachikally Crocodile Pool, we admired the wild Makasutu Park. Animal lovers can visit ” The Chimpanzee Rehabilitation Project Camp” that offers unforgettable opportunity to observe wild chimps. We participated in a cooking lesson and prepared a traditional dish called Domoda made with peanut butter. We drove to a village called Juffureh, then to Kunta Kinteh Island- a site famous for having been part of the slave trade and well known because of the life story of the Kunta Kintheh.
Many afternoons we would relax on the beach, laying on the soft sand under palm trees, drinking baobab juice or a hibiscus drink called Wonjo then swimming in the sea. Besides laughing a lot, Gambian people love to dance and sing, so many times we enjoyed spontaneous performances on the streets. In the beginning we were only watching, but the women were calling us to join them with word such as, “no problem sis come and dance…”
We joined the music and felt African vibes, shaking our backsides!! We loved “Albert Market” in Banjul. We were under the spell of this charming country!