I love The Smiling Coast
The Gambia | I spend about half of each year in what has been my second home for around twenty years now. Time drifts by effortlessly and finds when I’m away I miss it constantly.
It must be the same for so many as over the years I have seen visitors return not once or twice but ten times and more. So with that in mind, I thought I might sit down and give you my take on why this tiny West African country is the place I chose to be.
# 5 Old E Class Mercedes
I love the old E Class Mercedes, there are literally thousands of them here. Mostly green and yellow as that is the recognised colour for tourist taxis. They are without a doubt the go-to car for anyone thinking of making their living as a taxi driver. These Mercedes often way exceed 20 years old and trundle down dirt roads with a cough and splutter. And the odd bang and rattle but almost never stop, even when the exhaust drops off.
# 4 Fresh fruit ripe for the picking
I love that there is always fresh fruit ripe for the picking. Right now in July, there are Mangos, Bananas, Papaya and in December the citrus fruits arrive too. Oranges, Lemon, Lime and Grapefruit. It doesn’t end there, we also have Baobab, Ditakh, Tamarind, Plum, Kabba and Jackfruit. Ask for a fruit salad in The Gambia and you will feast for a week.
# 3 Gambia’s jewel in the crown
I love the wildlife, it is literally teeming with sights, sounds and smells that delight your senses every minute of every day. From the magnificent if not a bit scary. Crocodiles, Snakes and Hippos to the rather more cute Bushbuck Antelope, Red Colobus and Green Vervet Monkeys. And, of course, Gambia’s jewel in the crown, its Birdlife with an incredible confirmed species list of more than 570.
# 2 The food, it’s spicy which is great because
I love the food, its spicy which is great because that’s my favourite. All dishes tend to be ‘One Pot’ as this is the simplest and most cost-effective way of cooking. It also means all the flavour and goodness remains in the food. The most popular dish among locals and tourists alike is Chicken Yassa, it is served at most weddings and naming ceremonies and is a subtle blend of onion and mustard with a generous helping of pepper. My personal choice, however, is Soso Beans which are black eye peas cooked in a rich tomato, onion and chilli sauce. Locals have theirs in Tapalapa bread but I like mine served with Lebanese flatbread with plenty of homemade natural yoghurt on the side.
# 1 The thing I love most about Gambia is its people
The thing I love most about The Gambia is its people. Never have I seen a country’s people demonstrate a calm and willingness to just get on with one another and those around them. Gambia’s reputation as ‘The Smiling Coast‘ is well deserved and the rest of the world could learn some lessons from this the smallest country in West Africa with the biggest heart.
What are you waiting for?
If you have never visited Gambia before, trust me when I say that you should.
If you have visited before, either at Footsteps or having stayed elsewhere in The Gambia, I would love to know why you love it too. 😀 👣