The tour always starts with the host explaining how they do their daily activities in their communities. They teach the guests how to tie African wrappers, which is a favoured uniform when doing house chores. After that, a series of house tasks follow. They will head to the well, collect some water for domestic needs, sweep the compound, and do the manual washing of the dishes and clothes using a banko. Then the preparation of the lunch would begin. Girls will teach the visitors how to peel the vegetables, skin the fish, use firewood and stones to light the fire, and place the cooking pot on top of the stones to supply fire to the pot.
One of the questions Aminata often hears is how it is possible that people can spend so much time cooking in Africa while in Europe, they usually spend 15 to 20 minutes. But her answer is simple. In Europe, all the cooking ingredients are already processed before being sold, while in The Gambia, vegetables are collected from the gardens and taken directly to the market without any cleaning or processing. This makes the process longer, but at the same time, all the ingredients are fresh and without additives.
In her opinion, it’s a good thing that travellers visit their homes because it helps share their culture with the outside world and vice versa. Many locals enjoy it, especially children, who will be playing with the visitors dancing and singing. It also helps familiarise their guests with how people live and learn about the different cultures and tribes in the country.
The main part of the day is eating. After helping to cook, visitors will be served the food in the shared bowl and eat with the locals without using spoons, only their hands.
Aminata shares that community-based tourism helps elevate some families because they will make sure visitors will be hosted by families who are not financially stable. At the end of the day, tips would help them with some essentials like a bag of rice, oil or onions, which would get them through a week or even more.
Our welcoming host also urges other tourists visiting The Gambia to consider visiting the communities to have firsthand experience with the local people, which can help them have the best time in The Gambia.