It felt clandestine. The man peeled back the lid of the used 1gallon tub of ‘Bobs real mayonnaise’ to reveal the goods. Just off the main stretch of paved road which cuts a trading swathe through the north bank of The Gambia, this salesman stood surrounded by various receptacles – a scabby ketchup bottle, a sticky fanta bottle, and a surprising bottle with a fading vodka label on it.

“How much for a fanta bottles worth?”

“30 Dalasi”

I thought it a fair price – $1 – considering the work that had gone into making and acquiring the goods.

“You have a top for the bottle.”

“No I put it in this one and then I put it in this one.”

He indicated the fanta bottle first and then the vodka bottle.

He started the delicate decanting process. What I feared most begun inevitably happening.

“I don’t want bees in my bottle please.”

Except of course substituting the word bees for an embarrassing charade, with me buzzing my arms and pointing, for my Wolof vocabulary doesn’t stretch that far yet.

Now I have a quarter filled bottle of vodka of honey. It has one bee in it. I poured it on my oatmeal this morning and its mellow tropical tang lit up the gruel.

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