Living on the Smiling Coast

Sorry about the wait! I finally decided it was time to start this blogging thing to give you guys an update of my new Gambian life but also to keep you posted throughout my journey on the African continent!

It’s been almost a month since I finished my 424km fundraising¬†run across The Gambia¬†(you can follow my adventure on¬†love4gambia.com). I am now temporarily living and volunteering in the country until January. When I first decided to take a sabbatical leave from work, my plan was to come to Africa to travel and volunteer. In June, I attended the 25th anniversary dinner of the¬†Nova Scotia Gambia Association (NSGA) to meet everyone from the organization I was going to run for to raise money. During the evening, they presented a video about their drama troupes: devoted, talented, young adults doing drama to raise awareness on health issues in schools and communities… What an amazing idea! As a qualified drama teacher, I knew instantly that I wanted to work with the NSGA. I was very impressed by their work already. I¬†will write more about the organization and my volunteering in my next blog.

So, after the run,¬†I enjoyed a few days of well-deserved¬†rest and recovery. All I did was lay on the beach, eat anything but rice and sleep¬†like a baby. It was awesome.¬†Soon after¬†this little vacation, I was ready to roll again. Most of you know I¬†can’t stand doing nothing for too long!

After starting my 8 weeks contract with the NSGA, I moved into a nice house in the neighborhood of Old Jeshwang, in the region of Kombo (50% of the national population lives in this region). I am living with¬†‘Papa Mo’ (our landlord), Danielle and Aisha (two other Canadian working¬†for the NSGA) and Ismael (a Gambian working in the area). We also have the daily company of Ndey and Mariama, two young women working for Papa Mo. They take really good care of the house, but they also¬†are excellent tour guides, cooking teachers and clubbing partners!

My week days mostly consist of working (which means following the drama troupes around the region), running (yes, I’m already back on the road), going to the gym (22$/month for a personal trainer¬†is not too bad of a deal!) and doing my shopping¬†around the numerous markets.¬†Fruits,¬†vegetables, meat, bread, condiments, toiletries, clothing, everything is found at a different place. As much as I don’t like Walmart, I must say it has its advantages…

During my weekends, my Gambian husband (aka my bike) and I cycle¬†around the area to do all the touristic things (monkey park, crocodile pool, botanical gardens, beaches) and at night¬†I do the social stuff (drink Julbrew -the local beer, go clubbing, have tea and shisha, hang around with the housemates). One thing I know, I won’t get bored while I’m here! There is so much to see and to do. Everyone¬†is also very welcoming and want to make sure I’m making the most of my time in The Gambia. So far so good!

My key to happiness¬†(and to prevent homesickness)¬†is to keep myself active and busy by doing what I love and be surrounded by people who make me happy. I’m trying to learn as much as I can from this magnificent culture.¬†I would say that I’m adapting¬†pretty well¬†to this Gambian lifestyle¬†and I am enjoying very much my time on the Smiling Coast! ūüôā