The Calabash & the Wonjo

(page 2)

The Gambia, the smallest country on the continent, has been described as the thorn in the side of Africa, dividing Senegal into a large northern portion, an eastern area and a tiny southern prolongation. The peculiarity of this arrangement stems from colonial times when the practically minded British decided that they only wanted a piece of territory that could easily be defended by a warship moored in the river i.e. within the range of a shell. Hence the largely wobbly appearance of the 'thorn'.

The hotel that we were to use as our base for the next two weeks was situated on the Atlantic seaboard near the village of Kololi. The surrounding area was a delightful microcosm of the agriculture, vegetation and birdlife to be found throughout the rest of the country, and the hotel gardens contained a variety of non-indigenous tropical plants that was a delight.

The area north of the hotel was a curiously incoherent but none-the-less beautiful mixture of fields, scrub, orchard and pasture. Little Bee-eaters darted from exposed perches, zooming around the undergrowth and back to their original perch. Egrets accompanied cattle. A Hombill gathered mud from one of the puddles and was sealing his mate into a hole in an Oil Palm. Ground nut and couscous fields lay adjacent to open areas of low Borassus palms and shrubs over which Glory lilies swarmed. Some areas had been earmarked for building purposes. Dwellings were being erected with brick walls and gleaming corrugated roofs but on more than one occasion we came across tiny human dwellings made entirely from Borassus constituents.

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