do’s and don’t’s of avoiding street and beach touts

Last time I was in the Gambia, I was constantly approached by touts on the beach, so much so that I adopted an alternative identity.  This visit, I’ve been experimenting with different ways of avoiding undue trouble with hustlers.


  • Pretend to be mute.  I tried this last week, and the beach hustler kept trying to communicate with me in sign language.  The guy would not give up.
  • Falter.  Last night, on my way home from a restaurant, I changed my course because I remembered I wanted to buy water and attracted significant attention.  Hustlers can smell uncertainty.


  • Walk purposefully.
  • Dress like a boring working person rather than a fun-loving tourist.
  • Mutter to yourself and occasionally start laughing, unprovoked by external stimuli.  (I wish I could claim this was a purposeful ruse, but, well…)

1 thought on “do’s and don’t’s of avoiding street and beach touts”

  1. Yeh, the going mute thing doesn’t work. When my buddy and I were getting chased by a drunk guy with a shotgun claiming to be a park fee collector in Peru, my buddy told him (in slurred speech) he was deaf, but that just meant the guy ran faster and caught up with me.

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