We’re in a high-altitude Geordie nightclub, 30000ft above West Africa as I write this. Karaoke refrains ring out, distracting from the turbulence. The flight consists of mainly sun-starved British tourists, plus some native West Africans, some in traditional dress. And of course, 3 tired genomics conference travellers: myself, George Weinstock from Washington University, and Tiffany-Marie Williams from Baylor College of Medicine. Despite a 5:30am start, spirits are high. The flight, minus our diversion via Manchester will take 6 hours in total, meaning we go South long enough for the average temperature to raise at least 20 degrees centrigrade to 31 degrees.
We are hoping to be met off the plane by Martin Antonio, our host from the the MRC Gambia and an ex-students of Mark. He has invited us round for a traditional Gambian dinner. The guidebook states that a traditional meal will be served in pots which are passed around the guests who are seated. Each person dips in (strictly using the right hand) with some bread and passes it on. I have no idea whether this will be the case, or whether we are in for a more Western experience.
It looks like we will be staying in the MRC Gambia compound as the African Village hotel we had booked is apparently “below standard”. Shame, as the guide book promised a pool-bar, but I am sure we will make up for it in other ways…