Day 6

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Day 6 – Eco tourism and the beach

Updated: Aug 14

In the early hours of the morning we had the most amazing, intense thunderstorm. I’ve never experienced a storm like it. In a matter of seconds the rainwater came up to my ankles on the track outside my room.It’s been worryingly dry this season, so it was very special that the rain came immediately after Tobaski prayers. It’s as though their prayers at the festival were answered.

Today was really interesting. We walked to the beach and then along the sand towards a mosque. The scale and architecture of this massive, amazing building looking out to sea is a really stark contrast with other buildings in the area.

We carried on along the beach towards Nemasu Ecolodge Hotel, a fascinating example of eco-tourism. The sink and the baths were made of recycled plastic but they felt like metal. Everything was solar powered, and sustainably sourced. And the food was great!

I love the food here. All the food has been incredible. I’ve had seconds of everything. They use wonderful marinades to give great flavours.

I had my favourite fruit today – folay. It’s the size of a small orange and you peel it and suck the fruit off the seeds. It has a really sour, ‘pointy’ taste. I’ve never had a fruit like it before; it’s a unique flavour. Fruits at home tend to be sweet, but here they like sour and tart flavours.

The kaba fruit is similar; you can buy it from a stall opposite the TARUD office. When they chop open the hard, mango-sized fruit they tip in a bit of salt and chilli pepper and sugar and stir it all up. Again, it’s salty-sour, then it gets sweeter with a tinge of spiciness, but not overwhelming.

I love walking around the markets with Fatou who’s always buying me more folay fruits! When we’re eating lunch at TARUD, I always eat with Fatou; and like her, I use the fingers of my right hand to eat the food.

After lunch we played football on the beach. It wasn’t too competitive; it was just great fun. We played for such a long, long time, and the heat was intense. It was a proper social interaction. It really strengthened the links between us and the Gambians. The Gambians were amazing at football; I felt very intimidated! But in fact, I think sports are a key element in developing links between people.

After lunch we picked up plastic litter from the beach. We were doing it for Baba, one of our Gambian friends, who has set up a business making plastic tiles out of recycled plastic and rubbish. It was overwhelming to see how much litter there was.

We came across dead turtles, dead butter fish and dead puffer fish. It was sad. The litter increased the closer you got to the fishing village.

With all the Gambian partners, we came back to the lodge and played volleyball in the pool.

It was a lovely end to a lovely day. More rain tonight.

Minty Mills, 17

Marlborough College