Monday, July 1, 2013
Gambia Day One
Gambia Day 1
Understatement of the Day: "There's black people everywhere!"
For the first time in my life I feel white. Banjul International Airport. All these cats is coming home. Young men with suits on, mothers with their kids, VIPs with personal vans ready to pick them up. Everybody's got that bounce like, "Yeah, homie, we back!" and we're like, "Where the hell are we?" The plane touches down on a runway amidst dirt roads and weeds. We have to take stairs to get out of the plane.
We're excited as a mug though.
Hustlers. From the moment we get off the plane. Can we help you with your bag? Can we get a taxi for you? Umm. That's kind. No, thank you. We're going to Kololi Beach Club, just looking for the sign of our driver. One of these guys helps Linds out. Puts all her luggage in Kololi Beach driver's car for her and he goes, "We take tips" and I motion to Linds to give him a dollar or two and she does and dude holds her and whispers, "I got that hashish" and Linds does this nervous nod like, "What am I suppose to say to that?" and like that bam a little ball of aluminum foil ball falls from his hands onto the floor. I'm acting like a bitch already. All I can think of is the words of the passport lady in New York. Don't stray off the beaten path. Is hashish and aluminum foil off the beaten path?
(The local restaurant keeps up with the Premier League, Jude)
First thing I notice about Gambia is there's soldiers everywhere. Full uniform, everything. They're in the cut chilling like it's normal. Unnerving. I tell myself Imma get really scared if I start seeing guns. Two seconds later the driver passes by two soldiers in a military jeep and with their hands on this big ass bazooka. This is our military barracks, the driver says. Gulp.
I figure I'd go ahead and change the topic.
I ask him if there are a lot of people with my last name Fofana around and he says of course.
That's the real reason I'm here. I want to know what my last name means. I'm tired of saying back home in the States, yeah it's like the name song Bonana, Fofana. I've come all the way here to find out the real origin of my surname. I figure this guy will help me with this simple query and Imma keep it moving.
Him: Yes I know that name Fofana. It's from a language called Sarawa (phonetic)
Me (excited): Word! Do you know what it means?
Him: I know what it means.
Me: What does it mean?
Him: I know, but I don't know how to explain it in English.
Dang. Instead, he rolls down the window and there's this fifty year old guy on a bike. He turns to me and says, "This man's name is Fofana, too."
We get to our room. Beautiful of course. Brown, curtains made of kentei cloth. Me and Linds put our bags on the couch and our first instinct is say every tasteless African joke we can think of.
"Look, there go ya cousins!"
"Welcome to Zamoonda!"
"Get ready to see titties everywhere!"
We laugh for a long time. Then we look at each other ashamed. Then we grin. We are home.