THE GAMBIA 1968 ADVENTURES CONTINUED

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I have never seen such courteous people. Even children, when they introduced themselves said, "I'm very happy to meet you."

Among the Gambians I would hear,

"Da-da-da-da?"

"Da-da."

"Da-da-da?"

"Da-da" --and on and on.

What they were saying every time they met every day was:

"Hello."

"Hello."

"How are you?"

"Just fine."

"How is the day?"

"Just fine."

"How is the time?"

"Just fine."

"How is the family?"

"Just fine."

"How are the crops?"

"Just fine." etc. etc. etc.

About a dozen questions are fired at once and the answers are shot back in the same breath. Only after this formality does a conversation begin.

Bernie and I returned to the wild boar place of the previous night. Excited with expectation and fear, I climbed the same tree, fully expecting to get the first crack at the boar as they came down the trail. It was still light and earlier than the previous night when they had appeared.

When dusk fell into deeper shades, I knew the boar would not be passing by my tree. I climbed down and dashed about 100 yards across dry marsh grass to a tree that was better located. I felt squeamish as live things slithered under the marsh grass with almost every step I took. It was too dark to see what they were.

I surveyed the tree. It would be a tough climb with my gun. Then I heard a humming sound coming from the tree. In the branches was a hornet's nest and the little beasties were flying all around the nest.

It was a scary run back to my favorite first tree, with the rustling creepy things underfoot and fear of a wild boar charging me - or a pack of them. My heart was pumping in panic as I climbed back up the tree. I was grateful for not having been attacked.

Possibly because I had disturbed the ants three different times, or because I was so bone weary that I did not feel one with nature anymore, the ants bit me viciously. They crawled up my pants legs, into my shoes, between my toes; they fell down my neck and bit my neck and back. I was miserable and kept hoping and praying that Bernie would soon have enough of this waiting, too.

I had given up on the boar returning. It was completely dark. I tried to distract myself from the ants' stinging bites by meditating, but that didn't work either, and the minutes ticked by agonizingly slowly.

Finally I was relieved to see the light of a flashlight making its way toward me. Bernie found my tree and said he thought the boar had gone elsewhere that night. He had not heard one grunt in the marsh. Thankfully and wearily I climbed down.

As we walked along the marsh toward the river, suddenly we heard loud vicious snorting close by. It was frightening! We ran back to our trees for safety. My heart was pounding as I climbed back up the tree.

Fortunately the boar didn't run after us because they can run fast. These animals are pure muscle. Bernie thought we had scared them off, so we decided to make our way back home.

Again we became lost.

Weak and tired, I walked in what seemed like circles. The dry hard mud was lumpy and pock-marked and difficult to walk on.

Bernie would not listen to my ideas about where we had gone wrong. He insisted he was following a star and that we were going 50 degrees SSW. This idea he flashed from the top of his head because he didn't have a compass.

"I think . . .," I began.

"SHUT UP!" he shouted.

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