Sunday, 16 September 2012

Bakau: the first field trip!

As I've mentioned before we had a two week orientation period. We had some lectures by scholars, we met with some heads of organizations, a representative form UTG (University of The Gambia) where we will be taking classes and our neighbor who is an imam, but we also went on some field trips! Our first trip was to Bakau which is a major suburb outside of Banjul on the Atlantic Ocean and very close to our home. 

We visited the fishing center in Bakau. The boats are so beautiful and colorful, but also very different than the fishing boats I'm used to back home. I live in a neighborhood on the a river at home, I go to school on the river and then I come to The Gambia which is a country based around a river. Needless to say I really like the water. 
Anyways our trip to the fishing center was smelly, but informative. The men go out in the boats to fish and then the women take care of the fish. The women clean and cut them; making them ready for sale. Kaylie is actually doing her research project on the role of women in the fishing village so maybe I'll be able to add some more information about that later on in my journey. We are all doing research projects based on internships. I'll tell you more about mine later on. I know you're excited! The picture above is of a fisherman with a catfish. 

There are children everywhere we go, therefore it is no surprise that there were children at the fishing center. (Random statistic: 40% of the Gambian population is under 14 years old; CIA World Fact Book The Gambia). What they are sitting on, though, is where the fish are kept after being caught before they are prepared. They look like fridges though they are not plugged into any electrical outlet.

This is a picture of fish laying out to dry. The fish are kept in "fridges" for two days before they are considered not usable anymore. But they can set them out to dry (like the picture directly above) after the two days and sell them to merchants for putting in recipes.

There were a variety of fish there: barracudas, catfish, bonga fish (which is the cheapest and very fishy but eaten by most Gambians although tubabs don't tend to like it) and captain fish (which is very tasty!) to name a few.

Afterwards we visited the craft market in Bakau. It was our first experience at a Gambian market so I was nervous because I heard that people will put things in your hand and not take it back to try to get you to buy it and just be very forceful in general. At this point none of us had gotten our Gambian money yet (dalasi) so we couldn't buy anything. It was also a good excuse to get people to not bother you, although I'm not sure they believed us.. The market turned out to be very nice though. I loved all the statues, paintings and jewelry. It wasn't very crowded so it wasn't overwhelming at all. Everyone was so nice to us. I can't wait to go back when I do have dalasi so I can buy some of the beautiful merchandise. Here's an example of a beautiful painting that was there:

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