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  • Ifeatu Osegbo

Interesting Account of My Visit to The Smiling Coast of Africa

I went through the checklist of all the things I needed for my travels the next day. I had earlier gone to the market that same Thursday to buy things I would need for the travel. I had my passport, cash, flight ticket, vaccination card, my press id, a sweater, an additional shirt and trouser, mosquito repellent, two rechargeable power banks, my laptop and other things.

I spent a lot of time also thinking how best I’ll minimize my spending and also avoid problems with immigration officers on the trip. All these and other things occupied my mind before going to bed very late that evening.

The airline delayed us for almost one hour thirty minutes before asking us to board the aircraft. While walking to the aircraft, I noticed some very large birds flocking around some parked aircraft. I called the attention of one of the staff working for the airlines to the fact that those birds could cause problems or even accidents. He promised he would tell those in charge of that to do something about the birds.

We were boarded and on the runway in a few minutes later. Just at the point when the aircraft was about to take off, there was a loud noise from the right engine of the aircraft. This was followed by a smell of some electrical component being burnt. At that point, I was concerned maybe there could be a problem somewhere that the pilot knows nothing about. I also noticed other passengers were worried, some because the take-off was aborted. I somehow knew the pilot was going to talk to us soon. In less than 2 minutes into all these, the voice of the pilot came from the cockpit to tell us we just had a bird-strike and that he had aborted take-off.

There was a bit of excitement when I got to know it was a bird strike. First of all, I have never experienced anything like that before. I have read about it and the different techniques used in scaring away birds from the airport vicinity but not the experience. Secondly, it was an experience I was going to write about in my blog.

We all sat patiently waiting for the next line of action as we taxied back to the airport terminal. The pilot informed us that their engineers were on ground to inspect the extent of the damages caused by the bird and to determine if we could still travel on that same plane or if there will be a need to reschedule the journey.

After some ten minutes, the pilot told that the damages made by the bird is a minor one and that we could proceed with the journey after they clean up the blood of the bird on the engine. Some minutes later, the pilot advised all the passengers to disembark the aircraft as he noticed some of the tires of the aircraft are not in order and needed replacement. He told us a replacement of those would take another 20 to 30 minutes but the whole exercise gulped up almost 4 hours.

Well, those four hours of waiting was just a good time for me to chat with other passengers to find out about their different destination and what life was like where they were going. I was with a number of passengers travelling to Freetown in Sierra Leone and they told me a lot about Freetown. They talked about the high cost of living, in Freetown, the high cost of real estate and renting shops.

According to one of them for instance, to rent a shop in Sani Abacha Street in Freetown, you will be paying at least US$10,000 per annum. I personally remembered that when I visited Sierra Leone – Bo and Kambia the year before, I could not recall things being expensive but I recall that the exchange rate to the dollars was high ($1 to 7,200 Leones). They also talked about the lack of standards in the country as he was at liberty to import goods of whatever quality and sold same without any government authority coming to disturb him or insist he sticks to any standards. We talked of several other things before the airline requested us all board the airplane to recommence the trip.

Taking off this time was less dramatic but however, I couldn’t recall the last time I was that scared during a take-off. I was hunted by questions like, what if they did not do a proper examination of the extent of the damage done by the bird. What if they failed to tight a component properly…what if another bird strikes? All these preoccupied my mind for the first 20 minutes before eventually I forgot what happened.

Arrival in Banjul, The Gambia

We arrived the Gambia around 4pm local time, which would be 5pm in Lagos. Apart from being curious about what the weather outside the plane would look like, I wondered if there will be any issues with the immigration officers and I got to them in a matter of minutes. They asked for my passport and my return ticket to Lagos. A return ticket??? I did not have one. He told me he instantly that will not stamp me in except I presented him a return ticket. I smiled, kept calm and explained to him I was a journalist and a tourist and that I would be going to several other places before I leave back to Lagos. When his supervisor noticed I was spending much time with him, he came to find out what the problem was. Somehow, he had a change of mind and told me that he would allow me go but that I should always have a return ticket when I am coming to a different country. Without wanting to argue with him, I told him alright, thanked him and left.

Within the airport premises, a telecom company advertised free sims cards for tourists which I went for. It was in the process of buying the sim and questioning some local people there about how best to move and where I would get a good hotel, places worth seeing and so on. One of them who was quite friendly told me he had been to Nigeria and spent almost a month, at that point, I got interested to talk a bit more with him.

Alieu, turned out to be a good friend and he eventually helped me find a hotel, got me to the town where I changed some of the money I had (The bureau de change at the airport offered a cheaper rate). He helped me find a Nigerian restaurant where I had some nice meal like home. At my request, he agreed to come around the next day to accompany me to different touristic sites.

My abode in The Gambia was an 800 Dalasis ($17) Babulas Place in Senegambia. It was a very nice room for that price but however, guests must stay for more than one night. It felt like home, no mosquitoes, it was clean and staff were friendly. I noticed several tourists and Europeans were lodged there as well. I slept well till around 3am (4am Lagos time) the time I normally wake every day. I could not sleep again. I decided to use the opportunity to do some writing. I also planned my day as well to leave The Gambia that same day since there would not be much to see or do. The next destination on the trip was Guinea Bissau where I would have to the opportunity to practice Portuguese and visit lots of other places. The desire to visit Guinea Bissau ate me up that morning.

At Fajara War Cemetery with Alieu

Alieu requested me to meet him up in town. I did and we went to different touristic sites in the city. We first went to the Fajarrah War Cemetery where World War 1 veterans were buried. We met other tourists there as well. The other notable thing there was that Alieu’s great-grandfather was buried there as well and Alieu boasted and was very proud of him.

From there, we proceeded to Katchikally Crocodile Pool in Bakau. The place had a large number of tourists as well. It was a large pool with lots of friendly crocodiles. He told me those have been there for hundreds of years. The biggest croc there at the time was called Charlie. There was also a museum just in the same compound but we could not go to see it. Asides the touristic significance of the site, the site served some spiritual purpose. People who were in need do normally come there to pray – especially barren women who want kids. We took a couple of photos at the facility and left for Banjul to see the government house.

The trip to the government house in Banjul was not far.

We visited different buildings and markets around. More importantly, we spent some time comparing the government of YahyaJammeh and the new president Adama Barrow. I personally had always been a fan of YahyaJammeh. I came to understand that the only problem that Gambians had with him was the fact that there was no freedom of speech during his tenure and the quiet disappearance of citizens who he perceived as enemies. These citizens once they are kidnapped, nothing again was heard about them. According to some stories I heard, he had a special army that carried out this mission for him.

However, during his time in government, he made sure salaries were paid on time and no government parastatal went on strike. He built a university and several roads and championed several forms of development in The Gambia. He was the first to place a ban on plastic materials and bag being manufactured in The Gambia because according to him, it is not environmental friendly.

I was also told he likes parties and that he hosts parties where all Gambians are invited to come and celebrate with him. He also likes associating with students and that oftentimes he gives money to their schools to organise parties for them. I also heard he could just give a random student 10,000 Dalasis as a gift. Several Gambians believed his tenure could have been preferred if there were no harassment and disappearance of perceived enemies of his government.

We took lots of pictures and I then left from Brikama, where I will get a vehicle to the border of Senegal and The Gambia. I was headed to Guinea Bissau.

Ifeatu Osegbo is an IT specialist and a Journalist living in Lagos, Nigeria. He enjoys travelling and blogging. During the course of his travels, he has fallen in love with many international languages and has learned a few.

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Comments (25)

Sep 21, 2022

We just booked our QATAR 🇶🇦 HÔTEL yesterday for 2 différent short stars of 2 nights and 3 nights for the Final… . Not exactly cheap but ok price for 4.5 Stars luxury and in Doha Center City! Thanks and Good Luck everyone! Vamos MEXICO!


Sep 30, 2022

Wow! Stunning! Hilton seems to be taking Africa by storm. Just a couple of years back, they opened the first ever in Eswatini.


Oct 24, 2022

Wonderful event and topics discussed, hopefully we see the manifestations in our African airline businesses in the nearest future. Kudos to you all.


Nov 10, 2022

Hi, I'm Lucy. Please how do I embark on my travel/ tour business. I am newbie and help..


Nov 18, 2022

Prices in the Sol Torremolinos Don Pablo are the same than two weeks ago.


Dec 04, 2022

Good location astounding but the staffs are rude and they make me wait so long for the service. They charge me more than what is on the website and did not refund me the manager is not helping with the issue


Dec 15, 2022

WoW. Amazing Review. 👍


Jan 07, 2023

I spent the holidays here, I don't know why but during the holidays their reception smells like a piss Id rather not spend my special occasions here

Aug 07, 2023
Replying to

Where is here.


Jan 27, 2023

Thank you for sharing such a detailed review about ethiopian airlines in your post. I am an avid traveller and keep reading flight reviews to assess the options available. Your review particularly drew my attention because you have shared so many pictures to capture every aspect of the flight experience. It is a very nice effort.

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Feb 27, 2023

I am really tempted to book the next ethiopian airlines ticket and relive your journey. The pictures shared with the post also reflect that you truly enjoyed the travel. Great post! I also like the fact that you have covered nuances about the food and entertainment service through the pictures. It helps people know what to expect on their travel by this airline.

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