For many hours, especially during the cold Northeast winters I dreamt of, envisioned and planned a life in Africa that could be slower paced and more self-sufficient /eco-friendly than our life in the States. The possibilities excited me but I also stressed when the fear and “what ifs” entered my thoughts. How could this idea of mine become my reality? I didn’t have lots of money. I was working full-time as an Early Childhood teacher at a small school. I was a busy Mama. Time was going fast. I knew that I had to focus. My moto began to be “no time to waste”. Still, it took me 5 years to get back to The Gambia.
After working hard and saving, the mission of my 2nd visit to Gambia during the Summer of 2017 was to find land to plan a future on. The very first land we looked at is where I sit now writing this. I will never forget the day we ventured 20 minutes past Brikama and down the Transgambian Highway into the countryside. We stopped at the village called Kafuta and went to where the Imam lives. Together with the Imam and landowner we walked through the village and into the bush by the riverside. When we reached the land I felt the energy of the place and loved it. The soil was fertile and being farmed. The mango trees were plenty. Birds were singing and the breeze soothed my soul. I didn’t want to leave… This was the place!
From that day I referred to the land as Good Vibes Eco Yard. The place exuded good vibes and I longed to live in a positive, ecologically responsible way. I didn’t imagine at that point that one day my yard and home would welcome visitors from around the world! A lodge!
My 3rd visit to Gambia was in February of 2018, 7 months after finding the little piece of heaven in Kafuta. I had 10 days to start work on the land, research/gather info, make contacts, and do other necessities regarding the building process. 10 busy days went by quickly and soon it was time to return to the snowy mountains. The work would have to continue from across the sea. Also, I didn’t know when I would be able to get back to The Gambia.
Many challenges came during the winter and spring of 2018 but I also started noticing the signs that were presenting themselves to me. Signs that moving to The Gambia sooner than expected would be the best idea. The little house in The Gambia was not finished being built yet and I knew I was not 100% ready, but then again … time was going. I began to let go of fear. Instead of thinking “What could go wrong?”, I started to get inspired and excited about what could go right!
My 4th trip to Gambia was during the last week of August 2018. My then 4 years old daughter and I made our way to Africa on one-way tickets to embrace a simple and mindful way of life. Moving across the world is exciting, daunting, stressful, and emotional. Since moving here we have encountered injustices, dishonesty, hardship, trials and tribulations. The Gambia is not perfect. There is no place in the world that is easy and without challenges. Did we make the right decision to move here? Yes! Would we do it again? Over and over!
For me living in Africa is abundant with adventure and is never boring. Time has a different feeling. We detox from the high of instant gratification and become grateful that we have something to wait for. We abandon materialism and lower our footprint of consumption. We get by with less and appreciate what we have more. Our home is small and simple. It has a kitchen/living room, 2 bedrooms and a bathroom. We have running water from a well and our home is powered by solar. We cook with a propane stove and just this month we got our first refrigerator! We do not own a television or an automobile yet – but did just recently get internet service. We have many plans for our sweet little home, but as they say in Mandinka “domandin, domandin” – little by little.
I know not everyone would choose a slow, simple life in the African bush, but for my family and I it is the life we want to live. As Bob Marley said “Live the life you love, love the life you live”. Every morning I wake up with excitement to be here now. I love our yard and fruit and vegetable gardens that we can grow year-round. I love living so closely with the Earth’s natural cycles and rhythm. Being surrounded by water, wildflowers, monkeys, lush jungle greenery and melodic sounds of bugs and birds is medicine for the soul. I love social living, being part of village life and knowing the people of my village. I love that my daughter and I feel safe here in this peaceful country. I love that my youngest child gets to experience her childhood in Africa. She is getting the gift of a slow, simple childhood saturated with outdoor time, free play, and tasks of family life. She is happy, healthy and thriving in this environment and is even speaking fluent Mandinka, the predominant language of Kafuta. I love the climate, seasons and flora and fauna here. Walks in the bush renew us. I love hearing the calls to prayer coming from the local mosques. I love that our simple lifestyle creates less waste and is more ecologically responsible. I love that we have farm animals and pets. I love that I don’t have to rush away from my home to work for somebody else. I love being my own boss and working hard for my family’s future. I love that I don’t have monthly bills that come in my mailbox. I don’t even have a mailbox! I love that my daughter is always around me and I love that my big children love Gambia as much as I do. I love visitors from near and far. I love that my daughter can walk and ride her bike to school! I love seeing monkeys on my yard. I love going to our local market and interacting with market ladies who have become my friends. I love that people in our village call my girl and I by our names. I love traveling by local transport and interacting with beautiful people of the Smiling coast. I love, I love, I love … there are so many things I love about living here and what I see it is the simple things that are the biggest blessings!
Mama Africa is my best teacher yet and has made me stronger with her many life lessons. She has humbled me and brought me to my knees at the beauty of life. She has slowed us down, tuned us in and has assisted us in striving to become more mindful in all we do and say. She has freed me from fear-based thinking and has helped me to embrace keeping the faith and believing in the power of positive thoughts and in turn manifest the life we love to live.
This week my daughter and I celebrate 1 1/2 years of living in our home in Kafuta and 2 years of life in The Gambia. Every day we continue to fall more in love with this country and learn more about her customs, culture and people. We are proud of this country and want to take part in making sure she thrives. Our love of Gambia is contagious. We love welcoming people here and watching as the magic of Gambia touches their spirit and Mama Africa takes a place in their hearts forever! Blessings from Gambia.