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Mark Moxon's Travel Writing

The Gambia: Bumster Trouble

A sign saying 'Slow Monkeys Crossing' in Fajara
The monkeys aren't the only mischievous locals on the Atlantic beaches

Speaking the official language of a foreign country doesn't just make life easier; it also makes life more amusing, not least because you can understand the local media. As I strolled round the Gambia's Atlantic beach resorts this morning, the headline of the local newspaper caught my eye: 'Mass Arrest of Bumsters' proclaimed the front page of the Sunday Observer, while inside there were plenty of other notable headlines, including 'Football Witchcraft Palaver', 'Surgeons Deliver 46-year-old Foetus' and 'Student Surprised to See Black Hole Eat Star'. What a paper; I just had to buy it, if only to find out what a bumster was.

Two Days Later...

Unfortunately the effects of the police swoop on the bumster population are starting to wear off. The path from our hotel to the beach, previously a pleasant stroll through trees and past hotels to the white curve of the Kotu shoreline, has started springing ugly surprises every few paces. One particularly repugnant troll has taken up residence in the bushes by the road, and whenever any of us walk past he springs out, yelling, 'Hey, hey, how you doing?' Ignoring him elicits louder protestations, until you have no choice but to acknowledge him; I had my first experience of our new neighbour as I wandered down to the beach this afternoon.