Monday, April 14, 2014

‘It is never boring watching Dophins on River Gambia’

Rachel Joyce is a Briton who feels at home in Africa. She runs the Pleasure Sports Gambia, the operator of a cruising boat on River Gambia. In this interview with JIMOH BABATUNDE during a cruise to Juffureh and Port James Island, the ancestral home of Kunta Kinte, she shares her travelling experience. Excerpt :

On her first travelling experience
My first travelling experience outside of the UK was Tunisia when I was eight years old.  It was nearly 40 years ago now. Tunisia in those days was a very different country and it was a new experience for me as a small girl then.
It was fascinating and I still remember probably every minute of it now.
On how often she travels
How often I travel depends greatly on work, for instance here in the Gambia, if I travel it is either to Senegal or back to the UK to visit my family.
Apart from that over the years, I have travelled extensively through Europe and extensively through North Africa, particularly, Morocco.
When I was 40 years, I went on six months  sabbatical  and I went backpacking through Morocco , I spent lot of time in southern Spain  and I travelled  right  through Morocco  by road and rail system.
I started from Tangier, went through the mountain area, which was a beautiful part of Morocco. I went to Marrakesh; saw the highest mountain covered in snow when it was 40 degrees.
I took the night sleepers from Casablanca back to Tangier. I visited Rabat after spending sometime in Casablanca going through some villages’ right on the mountains.  That part of Africa is very important to me.
I have families that live there too. I find Morocco very interesting and nice place, with very nice people.
I have been to lot of places in Europe, I love Florence in Italy. I went with my daughter a few years ago and I have been to Milan. A long time ago, I went for my honey moon in Italy, so I spent time in Rome.
On her best destination
Morocco remains my best destination.
On what she travels with
If I am packing, my medication is the first, I need a camera and these days, I go with  USB sticks to store things on, because there is no end to the number of photos to snap.  I also take a luggage scale to know the amount of what everything weighs and sun hat.
I take a little clothing as much as possible.
On what she reads on flight
I read a lot any way. If I am on the plane, I read the flight magazines, I read about destinations I have not been to. Tourism is part of who I am apart from business.
I read a lot of books and do a lot of cross words and so those are the kind of things I take with me. I am not a magazine person. I like reading books as I like to learn from what I am reading.
On her best travelling experience
My best experience was probably again in Morocco. I went up to one of the oldest monolithic stone circles and the guardian of those circles is a wonderful man.  He was there with his wife and son who was disabled and we were trying to prepare a wheel chair or motorized chair for him and trying to find different ways of him to self propel because the terrain is not so easy .
So we devised one for him. It was nice. They were looking after me. As soon I got there, there was no issue like payment they looked after me like their family member.  I think that was a memory I will take along throughout my life.
On her worst travelling experience
It was probably getting mugged in Senegal.  As I was working down the street some guys were following me, I actually knew a guy was following me but in fact they were four. One was in the front and two by my sides, by the time we got to the main street in Dakar, the four of them closed in and that was where I lost my passport, money and other items.
On whether she tries local food when she travels
Yes, I always. For many years I was a vegetarian, but out of Europe I will try the local meat apart from pork. I think an important part of learning about different culture is to experience the traditions that include their food, the dance and their music.
Food is very important to every culture and person and so it is always good to experience the food. Some you will like and some you don’t.
On her best airline
I think one of the best airlines is Turkish airline. It was a very nice experience with them. I have also used the Gambia Bird coming from Barcelona last year and they gave excellent service too.
On the cruise business
From my position everyday is different, there is a different dynamics on the boat by the tourists we have and where they come from. Personally, I find every tour interesting, you find people drawn to me especially the Europeans wanting to know what it takes for another European to live in Africa.

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