Skip to navigation

Mark Moxon's Travel Writing

The Gambia: Basse Santa Su to Tambacounda

The main bus station in Basse Santa Su
The selection of rusting vehicles in Basse Santa Su's bus station didn't exactly fill me with confidence

I wasn't too annoyed that the fleas woke me up at the crack of dawn, because today I had to cross the border. Most travellers in Africa have a horror story or two about borders, bribes and bureaucracy, so I tend to assume that any journey that includes a border crossing will require more effort than normal. How right I turned out to be, though this time it wasn't down to the politics.

Rust Bucket

A broken-down van in the desert
Not surprisingly, the rusty old van that tried to get us to Senegal broke down before we left the Gambia, but there were plenty of passengers willing to stand around, talking about how to fix it

I'm glad you asked that, because one of the great things about being a writer is the therapeutic effect one gets from getting it all down on paper, and after the journey from Basse to Vélingara, a bit of therapy wouldn't go amiss.

Room for More

Without waiting to be told twice I leapt into our trusty rust bucket, and sucked in my ribs as we crammed six people along each bench, with another passenger sitting at the front of the rear cabin, his back to the driver. Two women hopped into the front passenger seat, one of them holding a child, and I did a quick body count: we had four in the front plus 13 in the back, making 17 in total.