This week is a week of greetings and partings. I arrived back in the Gambia two weeks ago and spent my first few days staying at a tourist hotel, walking on the beach and lazing by the pool with friends from my previous visits.
In many ways nothing has changed since I was last here except that the dalasi is weaker than ever – good news for me as I get more to the pound when I exchange currency, but not good news for the ordinary Gambians. There are new banknotes with a new design including the addition of pictures of President Jammeh in case anyone forgets who is in charge! I think I preferred the pictures on the old ones, although at least the new notes are plastic which is a vast improvement. The smaller denomination notes in particular change hands so often the old ones soon became very dirty, crumpled and torn, but the new ones should be rather more durable.
I notice too that the coast is suffering from erosion at an alarming rate. At Senegambia where two of the largest hotels are situated there is a large gap behind the concrete slabs which formed a protective wall at the front of the raised hotel beaches, and if the erosion continues at the present rate and nothing is done, the hotel gardens will soon begin to disappear.
Similarly down the coast at Sanyang where I spent the weekend with friends the coastline has moved quite markedly since I last visited just over a year ago. At that time it was quite a shallow slope down to the sea but now there is a step where the land finishes, and that step appears to be moving inland.
The greetings this week have been to old friends and also to my new colleagues at Nema Kunku where I will be staying as a volunteer at MyFarm until mid July; the partings are with good friends who are finally leaving the Gambia tomorrow. Munya with whom I shared a house for twelve months when I was here as a VSO volunteer with the Department of Agriculture is going home to Zimbabwe, and his fiancée Maya is returning to her home in Denmark where they will meet up again in about three months when Munya arrives to begin his Masters degree at the University of Copenhagen. It will certainly be quite different there from their life together in the Gambia and I wish them both a safe journey and best wishes for the future. Hopefully it will not be too long before we meet again in Europe.
Since I am now beginning to settle in at Nema Kunku I intend to write rather more regularly again in the next few weeks than I have done recently so will recommence my blog properly in a few days with a brief description of my current placement.