It’s the end of the afternoon when we arrive at Tanji fishing village, the last stop on todays’ day trip in Gambia. As soon as we get out of the van we can smell the combination of rotting fish and burning wood from the smoke houses. When our guide told us we were going to visit a fishing village, I imagined a cute small village near the beach where a lot of people live that make money from the fishing industry. I didn’t imagine an entire village build only for smoking, cleaning and selling fish. As soon as we step into the Tanji village I see how big this place is. we are surrounded by smoke houses and people, people everywhere. We make our way to the beach to watch the fisherman set out to the sea. On my left side there are people cleaning their freshly caught fish, while on my right side there is one big dumpsite with a smell that even all of the smoke can’t conceal.
As soon as we step on the beach I realize Tanji is even bigger than I thought. I don’t even know where to look, there’s so many things happening around me. There are thousands of people walking around, carrying baskets of fish on their heads, cleaning fish right there on the beach and pushing their boats into the water. There are many, many colorful boats lined up on the shore, ready to set off to sea. But that smell, the smell is so horrible, I feel like I’m about to throw up, which luckily I don’t. We walk along the coastline for a bit, carefully watching where we walk so we don’t step in puddles of fish blood and cut of heads. When we make our way back to the main road we come across many old, rusty fridges, used to keep the fish cool. The fridges don’t have electricity, but they’re kept cool with lots and lots of ice.
Our last stop in Tanji is one of the smoking houses. As soon as we walk in the door I start to cough and my eyes begin to water. The smoke is so sharp that it hurts immediately. We walk around the smoke house, but after just a few steps none of us can see anything because of all the smoke and our watery eyes; time to go out.
It’s hard to explain the craziness of this Tanji fishing village, so many people, so many boats, so many things to see. I can’t even start to describe how bad the smell is (when we came back to our hotel we immediately washed our clothes, but couldn’t get the smell out with this one washing), it’s just a place you have to visit yourself when you’re ever in Gambia.