#Love4Gambia – March 14 Update – Last Bike Day!
After a refreshing sleep, we had an excellent buffet breakfast consisting of delicious Gambian herbal teas, jams made from apple, cashews, and baobab and a delicious omelette. Joanne went for a swim in the ocean before coming to breakfast. I must say it is nice to be spoiled a little in an ocean-side resort after our arduous week. Our final 25 km started at the comfortable time of 9:30am instead of the usual 6am, allowing us to miss the worst of the traffic. On this final leg, we were joined by the executive secretary of the Gambian Cycling Association, a couple of other riders, two motorcyclists and of great value, 3 paramedics from the Gambian Red Cross who rode along behind us in their ambulance. We therefore formed a convoy led by the NSGA van followed by cyclists with motorcycles on our sides for protection and trailed by the ambulance, which provided a critical buffer against the cars and trucks that did not appreciate cyclists owning the road. We into the capital city of Banjul, stopped to touch the July 22nd Arch monument and prepared for the last km. down Independence Drive. Luke got off his bionic runner, I got on it and the others continued on their bikes. Luke easily outran me but I’m proud to say that I rode for 1 km to the edge of the Atlantic Ocean without falling off or getting a heart attack!
We then stood together holding hands facing the ocean that we cycled 425 to reach and then ran into the ocean with our gear on! Pictures were taken and we did interviews with the press. After that we went to the NSGA office for a closing ceremony followed by a meal. I should point out that we were still in our wet biking gear and sticky with salt! The NSGA staff were very proud of our accomplishment and invited the media and various officials to our closing ceremony. We then said goodbye to our new friend and guardian, Mario, for keeping us safe and our bikes maintained for the week.
Immediately after, we proceeded to St. Theresa’s basic primary school, a beneficiary of the Father Tony Pa Modou Solar Hub Projects’s charity organization. They have installed a water tower, solar panels, repaired the library and provided electronic equipment to the school. The head mistress was a strict self-confident woman who spoke frankly and kept her 70 teachers and 2500 students in line. Luke the pied piper gathered school children all around him, engaged them in conversation and then raced them up and down the football pitch. This distinct Catholic school had about 60% Christian and 40% Muslim students and had both Christian and Quranic instructors, quite a remarkable mix that I don’t think we’ll see in North America or Europe for some time to come.
After that we returned to our hotel for an invigorating ocean swim and rest before our dinner with the head Rotarian of the Gambia. We’re not getting a lot of downtime here and Luke and Pa Modou are getting even less!
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