Welcome to the Smiling Coast

That’s how the perennial advertising hoarding greets you. It’s no doubt a cleverly considered soubriquet, but it contains a grain of truth. Even when trying to rook you for an inflated taxi price, the people smile and are friendly.

I ended up with a taxi driver because Saikou and I missed each other at the airport. I think he’d have recognised me, even if his face was lost in the crowd. I got through the tedious formalities fairly quickly and loftily waved away the porters, so I think Saikou must have been late, as our plane itself was half an hour behind schedule. They had even borrowed a car from the Ministry of Youth and Sport – I doubt it would have had a little flag in front with lot of stretch limo behind, though. To add insult to injury for Saikou and Sainey (the driver), Saikou has now come to the conclusion he left his keys on the steps of the airport, so they’ve headed back, again. He’ll need Allah on his side if the keys are still to be there.

Arrival at the PIA building in Bakau confirmed what I’d already heard: that Mousa is no longer “managing” the Inn. The new incumbent, Malain(to rhyme with Alain, as in Prost) Sainey, seems much more proactive and busy. The major improvement will, I think, be the new water-tower as I’m told water is no longer a problem upstairs. The rooms are much the same as ever, though I’m in No14 and it seems comfortable in a sub-basic sort of down-market way. I’ve even got a clothes rail, complete with hangers, though I could do with another wee table or something.

The landing area has new furniture – or possibly the old stuff repaired and recovered – the tv is still there, but as I’m currently the only resident it won’t be on much.

Roddy Ross arrives in The Gambia tomorrow. Roddy is a founding member of the Gamscot charity and leading figure in the DofE scheme, and is coming with a party of three or four others. I think they’re staying in an hotel. Then, the following week, Peter Fleet of the International Award Scheme (the DofE umbrella organisation) is coming out too!

Good old (that’s unfair – she’s a friendly, good-looking young lady) Cecilia cooked me chicken and chips for my evening meal and I’ve basically settled on one main meal a day augmented by breakfast and a snack lunch. “With fruit!” said Cecilia, remembering last year: she rather ominously added there was a glut of bananas.

A word about the journey: all went smoothly though there was a delay of about half an hour leaving Gatwick. When I left Inverness, the check in operator made me take some weight out of my case and put it into my hand luggage: when I left Gatwick, her counterpart made me take stuff out of my hand luggage and put it into my case… I spent Thursday night at The Ifield Court Htel about 10 minutes from the airport: a definite cut above a Travel Lodge, with plenty of onsite parking. I recommend it. The only drawback was the taxi there cost £17. At least the hotel arranged one to take me back for £10. It’s not just The Gambia where people try to fleece visitors!

Anyway, that’ll do for now: I don’t know when I’ll get the chance to post this.

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