Snags & Frankfurters

Friday, and a very welcome half day’s teaching, with most of the Staff in their Friday best for prayers.

I am glad to say there has been no more colonic irrigation and I am almost back to normal. I spent a lot of yesterday in bed and toddled off for the night at about 6:00pm. With thirteen hours’ sleep I woke up this morning feeling refreshed and capable of having an almost normal day.

One novelty was that the power didn’t go off once during the three hour Year 1 IT class, so that was a blessing and we made a bit of progress, even beginning to look at mail merge, which seems like a worthwhile task for a secretarial class.

When I checked email late yesterday afternoon, I heard that Sonia’s eldest brother had died. This will put a strain on her as her mother lives near us in Inverness. Jack is the second of her sons to die, so I imagine it will be a big blow for her and as the only daughter, much of the impact will land on Sonia. Jack has been frail for a while and it’s sod’s law that this should happen when I’m out of the country.

After lunch

I “screwed my courage to the sticking place” and had lunch. As almost every other day, it was tapalapa (bread) cut down the middle and inside it two frankfurter sausages, a generous portion of baked beans, a smidgin of salad and lashings of tomato ketchup, finished off with further lashings of mayonnaise. I don’t imagine there’s much variety in the average Gambian’s diet and I suppose they think of this as toubab food, so it’s inevitable I get it every day, but a change would be nice! When I’d eaten as much of this as I could manage, I wandered the 50 yards up the road to the “breakfast coner” hoping to get some bananas. “Tomorrow” the wee lassie said, so I bought two oranges. None of your easy-peel here, but every little cell in my body was cheering as the vitamin C began to flow through the system and I could feel myself perking up as it did. The two oranges cost me the grand total of five dalasi – less than 15p. The only fruit I’ve had since I came here is fruit I’ve bought myself.

On health grounds, I bought the oranges unpeeled but most of the street vendors sell them ready peeled. In effect, this just leaves a coating of pith round the fruit and I’m not sure of the benefit, as the purchaser still needs to take the pith off before eating.

While I was lying on my bed of pain yesterday, I made a “snagging list” relating to my room:

  • Ceiling: stained with filth from leaky roof – needs cleaning and painting
  • Walls: dirty (squashed insects, grubby marks etc.) need washing
  • Air Con: circulates warm air
  • Mains socket: dangerously hanging loose and connects badly when something is plugged in (tztztz, chchch, tztztz)
  • Large dip in bed

I reckoned that was enough but could have continued with several other snags / nags. I continue trying to persuade Mousa that backpackers are not looking for luxury, but that the absence of major safety issues, a reliable supply of water, reasonable cleanliness, along with basic hygiene and security standards are the minimum. Spreadsheets are an extra.

Fatou is Mousa’s assistant and I think she would do a very good job managing the Rhun Palm Inn – at least she’d be worth a try. Mousa says he’s training the young lad Amadou (also called Patice) – I hope for Amadou’s sake he’s a slow learner: I wouldn’t want to think of his career in hospitality being blighted by that nincompoop.

When Abass told me one particular breed of lizard would turn blue, I was sceptical, but he’s spot on. Some of the lizards that were, only a fortnight ago, a yellowy brown colour now have blueish/purple bodies and yellow heads. We had one in the IT classroom the other day, it having come in through the window. The girls shooed it out with less fuss than Scottish kids would deal with a wasp. But then lizards don’t normally bite.

As I was writing that last sentence under the shade at the front of the RPI, I spotted a large dead hairy thing. I’ve not examined it closely, but it appears to be the remains of a goat or possibly a dog. There’s not much left bar the hide: I suppose it could have been dropped by a vulture or something. Not nearly so smelly as the giraffe remains we came across in Botswana, but still not quite what you expect in the front garden. I wonder how long it’ll take Mousa to remove it.

The Independent Electoral Commission have started collecting the voting trays. However, as the papers report that some opposition people have boycotted the election due to some procedural grievance, counting of votes may be somewhat academic. The party supporting the President were likely to sweep the board anyway.


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