Crocodiles and trouble in the Gambia
I embarked on a trip to Gambia in 1997 to see the Crocodiles at the sacred Kachikally pool and other wildlife and took my best friend Hazel along with me.
I did not have a digital camera back then, but a regular 35mm film camera with no zoom, however the one image I had kept is below, its a photo of a photo:
On arrival, the plane landed in a field and we were driven to the hotel which I noticed was surrounded by barbed wire with two armed guards standing alongside the fencing.
We dumped our things in the room and went for a walk on the beach, the sand banks were steep and the sea was rough making a terrific crashing sound and there were palm trees fringed all the way down the beach as far as the eye could see. I was really enjoying the walk, yet about 10 minutes into it we saw a gang of six tall guys paying off the armed guards at the barbed wire fence, the guards hastily took the money and walked off.
The gang then approached us and asked us for money, I thought that odd as they had just given out money to pay off the guards, I explained that we had none as had just arrived, the leader said he knew we had arrived and what room we were in; I goaded him into telling me what number room it was as I could not believe he would know, room 6011 he said; he had it right.
We turned and left almost running back through the wire fence to the room, we were plagued by silent calls from that moment on day and night for the duration that we were there.
The grounds of the hotel had beautiful tropical gardens, spiny palm leaves sprang up and there were exotic colourful birds in the grounds including the African Palm Swift (Sypsiurus parvus), African Jacana (Actophilornis africana) and Little Bee Eater (Merops pusillus).
The flowers were beautiful there were orchids, palm flowers, heliconia and hisbiscus dotted about the grounds which were rich in green ferns and palms.
We met an American couple who had been mugged out on the street just up the road, they were very shaken up about it and it made us both reluctant to go out anywhere.
Each day I longed to go out onto the beach, yet as soon as we attempted it the gangs would appear and we would end up going straight back through the fence and the silent calls would continue at regular intervals throughout the night at all hours in our room, there was something chilling about it.