Of crocs, bumsters and beaches
Banjul, the capital of Gambia, is a tiny speck of dust, compared to the sprawling suburbs of the kombos, the four administrative areas, kombos, on the Atlantic coast, just outside Banjul. It's here where most of the economic activity takes place and here where all the package tourists are put up, in one of the many rather decent resorts on, or slightly off, the coast.
This means that, coming from Salone, the range and quality of restaurants, for one, is rather breathtaking. And because of both the sizable tourist population as well as the indigenous middle class, prices and value for money are not bad at all.
Surprisingly, tourists pretty much only show up in Gambia from November till April, meaning that now, at the far end of the season, most hotels are already virtually empty. Odd, as we are here for Easter, which I would think would be as perfect a time as any, or better, for Europeans to visit this sliver of land in west Africa.
One flavor of tourists which do come here year round are the, typically, middle aged northern European women who come in search of sex, and easily find it. Many of the suppliers, called bumsters, typically have a handful of recurring clients through which they provide for their extended families.
Indeed, the men head out to south east Asia, the woman to Gambia (and some to the Kenyan coast).
Perhaps in part because of sex tourism being an important factor for Gambian tourism and the long term income that entails for the local beneficiaries, we found Gambians on the street to often be rather aggressive in their trying to get tourists' attention, to the extent where, multiple times, we were branded, loudly, as motherfockers for not going along with the schemes they were trying to lure us in.
I suppose that part of that is their surprise at our lack of gullibility as compared to the hordes of package tourists from Europe, but that's neither an excuse, nor a real explanation.
The contingent of Scandinavians is sizable, and our hotel, the oddly named African Heritage Center, one of the very few hotels in the area, in this price range and which actually has a website, is one of the many run by one, a Danish woman. Prices are reasonable, the rooms are quite lovely, the included breakfast is great and the pool is decent.
The only real tourist attraction here is a pool filled with tame crocodiles. The pool is famous throughout the country with young women struggling to become pregnant. They bath at the site, though I'm not sure they bath with the crocs, and upon success, name their offspring Kachikally, after the name of the pool.