This Christmas we decided to run away from London, and after a long time researching holidays in places like Scotland we ended up travelling to Gambia.! It was a spontaneous decision - in my experience those tend to be the best decisions! The whole family fell in love with Africa straight away. We are all dying to come back and see more of it.
Everything was so beautiful; the landscape, the colours and the people - and plenty of monkeys - especially the ones living in our hotel grounds. And cats! It was just a perfect place for my little girl. She swam every morning in an almost empty pool, fed the monkeys and read books in the sunshine.
We also explored the local monkey forest, went to a nature reserve, hired a guide and travelled on the back of a truck through Gambian towns and villages. We celebrated Christmas outside, with random people from our hotel listening to a live Gambian band. They were so good! Odessa actually joined them on a few occasions and played drums.
This time we were also much more aware of Odessa's condition - due to her sensory processing issues Odessa found it very difficult to deal with loud or busy environments (it can be overwhelming for her). We did try to take her to a local market but she made sure we knew she didn't like it - she had a big meltdown and her mood changed completely. We learnt our lesson and avoided busy places.
It was all about nature and being together. And the monkeys! Monkeys completely conquered Odessa's heart and I think the highlight of holiday was when they surrounded Tim in the jungle and stole his banana (NOT an euphemism!). They can be quite intimidating you know....
On the last parent evening at Odessa's school I had opportunity to see some of her class artwork including the things she worked on at Christmas time. It was really great to see, among all the pictures of Santa, Christmas trees and presents, to see Odessa's drawings of baboons! And by the way did know what they call baboons in Gambia? Jungle gangsters! They are very naughty!