Slept five hours straight last night. That's the best nights sleep I've had in two weeks now. Got up at 8am, but after showering, packing, breakfast, etc it was almost ten by the time I left the hotel. It was only a twenty minute hike to the Gare Routiér but it felt more like an hour in the heat and humidity. Found a Camion Bâché going towards Passi (on the road to The Gambia), but it wasn't very full. After waiting for over an hour one of the other passengers suggested we all offer an extra 100 CFA (US$.20) to get the driver to leave with empty seats. We all agreed, but the driver declined. Didn't matter though there was a sudden rush of people and we were on our way ten minutes later. The paved roads are so bad that most of the time the cars drive on the dirt at the side of the road to avoid the potholes. Forty very rough minutes later I was in Passi. In Passi I immediately got a Pugeot 504 (station wagon) that left within ten minutes. Nearly two hours of even worse roads (I thought they'd be better since this is the only western road to The Gambia), several police checks, and two (three?) border checkpoints we were in Barra. Thirty minutes waiting for the ferry then another thirty minutes on the ferry (during which it poured rain, and no shelter on the boat) and I was in Banjul.
Banjul is not your typical capitol city. Most of the buildings are falling apart and all have tin roofs. Few of the roads are paved, and it's very small. I caught a shared taxi down the coast a little to the beach town of Bakau. Found a decent restaurant (I asked for a recommendation at the guest house) and tried Yassa (a spicy chicken dish that's typically Gambian). It was quite good and somewhat reminiscent of Thai food. I also tried the Gambian beer, Jul Brew (slogan: "Joyful JulBrew!"), it's drinkable but I'd rank it down there with Heineken. Early to bed since I hope to get my visa for Mali tomorrow so I have to get up early to be at the consulate back in Banjul around nine.
My sleeplessness (or maybe it's the amazing amounts of bird vocalization outside) strikes again. Spent several hours with my guide books and came up with a reasonable way to avoid going back to Dakar to catch the train to Bamako (Mali). I'm pretty excited about this route that will let me see up river in the Gambia and a pretty decent section of Guinea (not to mention keep me from having to go back to Dakar). If I can get my visas for Guinea and Mali here in Banjul, I'll continue all the way up the Gambian river to Basse Santa Su, then cut South through Southern Senegal into Guinea. In Guinea I'll go through Labé, Dalaba and Kankan before crossing into Mali and on to Bamako.