The Wedding Guest

Not a lot to report, but a few details cleared up.

I had knocked up a simple crossword for Year 2 ESOL – probably not simple enough, but they seemed to enjoy it. However, my magnificently-prepared lesson on spreadsheets was completely screwed when the power went off – and stayed off for the rest of the lesson. There’s a limit to what you can do with eight nineteen year old students and just one laptop.

After I finished teaching I headed up to the bank to change some money, but the queue was horrendous and it was only 15 minutes from closing time, so I gave up and continued walking – an hour or so in total – to the Sunset Beach Hotel where Sonia and I’ll be staying. She already has a booking but as I was in the vanguard of the party I had to wait until I got here. I managed to add myself at about £25 per day: I tried to argue it should be less, but I was shown a pre-printed tariff and that was really the end to it. I intend having three showers a day and the world’s biggest breakfast each day we’re there. I also found “Barry’s Exchange Booth” which was offering a better rate than the bank, so that was good.

On the way to Hotel I was stopped by a guy who appeared to know my name – his was Keba – and who reckoned I should recognise him. As I do tend to get these folk muddled up, I went along with the story. He had just got married, so I congratulated him and tried to resist his invitation to see his house and wife: however, without being downright offensive I had no choice but to follow him. Alarm bells began when he started to tell me that in The Gambia, the tradition was to give a present – not money – to the newly-weds. I reluctantly followed him to a shop but refused to hand over enough for even a small tin of dried milk (GmD250) and settled for giving him GmD50 and beating a rapid, yet amiable, retreat. I’m still not sure if he really knew me or managed to bluff it.

I decided to take transport back to the RPI, but turned down the first offer of 150 dalasi in favour of 7 dalasi part way in a shared taxi. The remainder of the journey cost me 50 dalasi in a taxi on my own: I turned down 2 offers at 50, before accepting the third as it seemed to be the going rate.

I got caught doing my own laundry and apparently that’s very infra dig as I’m male, old and possibly respectable! So I’ve to use one of the cleaners from now on. Can’t say I’m too disappointed and she’s bound to make a better job than me.

I hope to have costings for Tosh and the IRA group very soon: I gather they will include not just accommodation and food but also proposed jobs etc. Once again, a sign of better management: a staff group has been looking at priorities and Ousainou is keen that the IRA group get jobs they can complete, so they can say “we did this”. I like that approach, but it’s also important that everyone is able to participate, or boredom sets in. The idea is that Penny’s group in June will get a similar menu of potential tasks after the IRA does what it can.

Emma asked me to find out about the dog at Bakau: the latest litter of puppies have been rehomed and the mother seems OK. On the matter of fire extinguishers, someone apparently tried to break in and steal them – hence the bars on the windows. I’m told it should be possible to reinstate the extinguishers now. There are some empty holders in evidence, but also some extinguishers. I’ll try to find out more, but I think we need to strike a balance between “due diligence” and “toubab knows best” in our dealings with the current management.

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