THE GAMBIA 1968 ADVENTURES CONTINUED
We approached tall elephant grass, way over our heads. Bernie told me to wait while he investigated. After he was about 100 yards away, he yelled for me to follow. I shouted back to shine his flashlight so I could tell where he was. He yelled for me to go straight ahead - so obstinate in refusing to shine his light for me. I stumbled over fallen trees in the dense elephant grass in the direction of his voice.
In the sky I could see the reflection of two lights - the same light reflections Bernie had used in his argument with the boy the night before in guiding us back. One light was the hospital area and farther up were the lights of Bansang.
I mentioned this to Bernie.
He continued to follow his star.
I saw we were going way off to the left, so after a futile argument with him, I made my way alone toward the reflected light.
Bernie went forward instead of farther left and made a big detour to end up where I was.
When we met at the river he didn't say a word, but gobbled up the last drop of water in my canteen. I was dying of thirst. It was hot and my body was aching all over from carrying the heavy gun, plus extra ammunition and the water canteen. We had been lost for two and a half hours.
It was after midnight when we reached the river. Bernie flashed his light to the other side for a boat to come for us. After waiting twenty minutes, I shouted for the boat to come. The boatman shouted back that he would not come because Bernie had not tipped him the last two times he took him over. I shouted back that I would give him two shillings if he came for us. Fifteen minutes later the boatman arrived at our side.
The day had been an ordeal - mostly because of Bernie's nastiness in trying to assert his male ego.
Next morning before we left, I walked around Bansang taking photos. By the river, half nude women were washing clothes. I expected resistance but everyone wanted a picture taken. The women hopped in the water, jumped up and down splashing water, begging me to take pictures of them.
In town, four girls from bush country had come to Bansang to be married. They were dressed up with coins in unique hairdos and exotic headdresses. Frightened of the camera, they refused to be photographed. The man in charge of them stepped forward to protect them. I ran back for the Alcalde's son. He didn't get anywhere with them either.
I told him to tell them that I was sending copies of all my photos to Mr. Silla, the shopkeeper, to give to the people. Then the Alcalde's son, an older man with four wives, insisted that I send the photographs to him to disperse. He was jealous that Mr. Silla would have that privilege. Finally we convinced the girls and their keeper to let me take the photographs.
About 1 p.m. the lorry came - an open-sided truck with a roof. I sat in front near the driver, next to a Gambian wearing a flowing robe. Bernie sat at the back by choice, to avoid me, no doubt. A goat was tied in the back, bags of chickens were on the floor and people were squashed in close together. I was glad to be in front - until my seat partner started feeling my leg through his robe.
I wedged my camera between us to avoid his body contact. He complained bitterly about that. He was sitting way over on my side, although there was plenty of room for three people. When the hand again came under the robe to my leg, I complained to the driver who spoke some harsh words to him. The Repulsive One whined some indignity but stopped temporarily.
It was terribly hot and I was squeezed into a tiny crevice. Finally I could stand it no longer and asked the Repulsive One to move over. He wouldn't budge so I pushed him. He pushed me back.
Again I complained to the driver and the driver made him move over. It was pretty spunky of the driver because, as I learned later, the Repulsive One was his boss and owner of the lorry.
The roads were so dusty that when a vehicle passed us from the other direction, we had to wait several minutes for the dust to settle so the driver could see the road through the dust.
I had slowly drunk all the water in my canteen, sip by sip, just wetting my lips each time. When we made a stop, I asked for water but all that was available was a sweet soda pop, which I guzzled down. Afterward, I was even thirstier.