Turning a Deaf Ear

I meant to mention a couple of snippets from yesterday, both involving Tosh. Tosh is always well-equipped for these trips and brings a lightweight axe, so he had fun using the blunt end of it to break up some concrete blocks to make aggregate for concreting in the clothes poles. That was probably the highlight of his day. The other incident occurred at the beach, when he got zapped by a big wave: he got an earful of water which has rendered him temporarily (we hope) deaf in one ear. If we want to be rude to him, we are currently ensuring we sit on his right.

A few of the kids fell foul of new technology: their fancy phones woke them up before seven this morning, due to Daylight Saving in the UK. Tasmin, who appeared first, took some convincing that she was up an hour early. At least an old “traditional” watch doesn’t do that. Nor does a knock-off Nokia.

We put up the washing line this morning and had a ceremonial opening with the cleaners clipping the inaugural clothes peg. It’s quite humbling the amount of pleasure a simple task like this can give the recipients. Tosh wanted to make the experience truly Gambian and had planned a 45 minute speech and a plaque saying “Inverness Royal Academy Memorial Washing Line supported in Friendship by Inverness Royal Academy”, but we dissuaded him.

Today is going to be a relatively quiet day. Everyone is tired and we have an early start tomorrow, with the intention to leave here by 5:00am. This means a reduced waiting time at the ferry (inevitable even with our letter of priority) and a cool start to the day. The intention is to go via James Island (now called Kunta Kinteh Island, after the hero of Alex Hailey’s book “Roots”) where the slaves were kept and their spirit broken before being shipped out to the West Indies. The island is in ruins now, but it is a part of a shared heritage between us toubabs and the Gambians. I’ve been there something like seven times, so I may save the boat hire fare, the boatman’s charge, the contribution for the “entertainment” on the boat to the island, the entry fee to the island and the museum. I’ll have something to spend on a cold beer while the rest are doing their cultural penance.

Adrian has been troubled by an abscess in a tooth, so he managed to get to a pharmacy and buy antibiotics, so we’re hoping for his sake that the problem will now disappear. Otherwise it’s the health clinic in Kerewan. The staff there are very professional and reasonably well equipped, but nevertheless…

This afternoon most of the team went to the Bakau craft market. I had a date with Malang to increase his expertise with Excel: I have no worries about spending time with him as he is a keen student, quick to pick things up, always grateful for help and will undoubtedly put his new found skills to the service of the PIA. Besides, he’ll ask Ramtoullie to do my washing while I’m away!

We’re having an early night and I need to arrange for Abass to get his data stick back, so I’ll draw to a close now.

I’m not taking my laptop to Kerewan, so I’ll not be blogging after today until we get back on Friday. Mums and Dads may already have Tosh’s number, but in case of dire need my Gambian mobile number is +2206302935. Remember that “no news is good news”!

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