Up at 3am and ready for our taxi at 3.45, arrival at the airport, long queues for the Gambia flight. All checked in, the security procedures and then breakfast and a welcome cup of coffee. Then boarding and eventually we take off half an hour late at 7.35am. The flight is uneventful and then we are there, circling over the familiar landscape, not the usual green of November, but already dry and turning yellow from the heat. We land and notice the red carpet laid out on the runway, sadly not for us! Today is Independence day. The 50th Anniversary of The Gambia’s Independence from Britain and there are a number of foreign dignitaries and Presidents who have arrived to walk down that red carpet.
The queue to get into the terminal is longer than usual and we realise why when we enter, every person is sprayed with hand gel and then inspected for temperature and eye condition variations for signs of Ebola. Thankfully the Gambia is Ebola free and they want it to stay that way.
We collect our luggage and then make our way through the x ray machine area where I am taken into a side room because they believe I have food in my case, they are happy when the ‘food’ turns out to be treats for our dogs and let me go. Musa our mechanic is waiting for us with a large grin on his face. Welcome, welcome, How is Steve? This is a refrain we hear many many times over the next few weeks. We climb into our truck and Musa drives us home where Kebba is waiting, a huge grin and a big hug awaits. How is Steve, how is the leg, we missed you!
It is a big welcome home and we are glad to be back. Tired after our journey, we have a quiet afternoon, unpacking and then went the familiar walk round the corner to Neil’s bar for an early supper and bed. Fireworks lit up the sky and large bangs continued for a while as the nation celebrated their Independence.