The smiling coast

Don’t ask me what it is about Gambia’s smiling coast?

I couldn’t tell you other than it gets under your skin and once there it stays there. The people are gorgeous and for me as a photographer, present with a multitude of opportunities.

The smiling coast
Photo by Byron Newman
The picture left is one of the kindest souls I have ever met, Lady G.
and
the picture above is Ibby Bojang, a gifted carpenter who can’t hear & can’t speak

I’ve been going there during the sad winters in the UK for ten years. I think of other destinations but at that crucial moment, I am always drawn back. staying with friends and rented houses, I was always aware of Footsteps but only stayed there for the first time a couple of years ago.

The icing on the cake.

What could be nicer to come home to after a hustling and bustling day at Brikama market than the sublime tranquillity of Footsteps? A haven.

The rooms are comfortable and have ensuite hot showers and wonderful composting toilets which really work! Well not really rooms, actually your own house. You could just hang out there all day if your feeling lazy. The food is top-notch, The staff, fabulous. Want a massage or other treatment? Not a problem. Relaxed, convivial, informal and utterly charming. And there as hosts are David and Linda, absolute gems!

My accommodation
My roundhouse
Avocado fresh in the smiling coast
Avocado fresh from the tree
The smiling coast
Lamin, beautiful man, always bringing me Campari & soda

“Feel my love”

There is entertainment of an evening a couple of times a week with local drummers and singers and other musicians.

I stayed with two friends whom I make music with in the UK in a band called Senior Service and we got together several times during our stay to entertain the guests under the guise of Nonkongqueron. 

Fun for us, and for them hopefully. David, an accomplished singer took on lead vocals on a couple of numbers much to the amusement and appreciation of all.

Me, having a go at ” Feel my love” on the Footsteps sundeck

During my stay at Footsteps, I was lucky enough to be there while a group of artists from Cotton trail art were receiving training from Njogu Touray ( one of “The smiling coast” most famous artists ) and Bjorg Thorhallsdottir ( one of Norway’s most famous artists ). Art is such a personal thing, but I think you will agree, The Gambia has more than a fair share of talented people.

The smiling coast
I commissioned this work by Ebrima Gitteh
Talented street art
This artwork I found at Sankule beach bar, on a wall at the back, such talent!

With any luck I hope to revisit this smiling coast line very soon, Covid permitting….

Written by Byron Newman.

If you would like to see more of Byron’s work you can visit his website or join his growing army of fans on Facebook. You might also want to check out his new publications here.

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