Hardly Inspiring

On Thursday, a squad of Abass’s lads started painting the rooms in the Inn. So when I went off on Friday I packed all my stuff ready to be moved out of my “house” so it, along with two ohers, could be finished in my absence. Having got back earlier than anticipated, I wasn’t surprised that it hadn’t been done. Now, last thing on Monday, I’m still living out of a packed case as there’s been some delay in getting paint. As the group arrive on Wednesday, they’re cutting it a bit fine.

At breakfast, I was asked to help with “asset levelling”, which seems to translate into “stock check”. There are a couple of shipping containers in the compound, so we opened them up with the intention of seeing what was there. First we found about a dozen ancient sewing machines: when the tailoring section went the way of all flesh a couple of years ago, they were moved into the container as the tailoring workshop had a leaky roof. It’s really pathetic to think that the PIA hope to resurrect about half of these museum pieces, despite the fact they are thick with dust, rust and sand. I spent some time trying to clean them up, whilst the staff assured me they could be working again with some WD40. I feel that they could prove or disprove the efficacy of prayer, rather than the potency of WD40. Eventually I gave up, toying with a little weeding before doing computery things.

Poor Cecilia, the cook, has had her work cut out today: there was a meeting of about 150 which had booked the hall and she had to provide breakfast for all of them, on her own. It transpires the meeting / conference is lasting until Thursday, so she’s got another three days of it. At least they’re not having lunch, but with the Inverness group arriving on Wednesday, she’s got a lot on her hands. I’ve mentioned mealtimes before, but with reference to me: the standard Gambian routine seems to be breakfast at about 11:30, lunch at about 2:00 or 3:00 and the evening meal at about 8:00.

Malang, the Inn manager, has been asking all day about getting extra tuition in Powerpoint, Excel and even Access. I’m quite happy to help with this, but with the activity around today, he has had to keep postponing it, so my day has been rather disjointed.

I’d better own up that I’ve been having my washing done for me. Ramatoulie is one of the cleaners and has today done the third wash for me since my arrival. Like all Gambian women, she is expert at cleaning clothes with nothing more than a bar of soap and a bucket or two of water. A useful tip for anyone planning to come out here is to sit around poking at a bucket of clothes until a local lady has had time to stop laughing and take over. Lightweight clothes, sunshine and a good breeze mean the stuff dries in no time. But I must remember to bring it in off the balcony as the last lot was kippered by a nearby bonfire where someone was burning rubbish – mostly plastic to judge by the smell of my clothes. I think I preferred the smell of stale sweat!

Tonight’s weeding topics included crop rotation and the making of vinegar.


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