Sunday, 22 August 2010

they didn't think I'd come back...

Coming back to the Gambia after a month back in the UK definitely allows you to see things through new eyes. The things people back home are most interested in are the things you get used to very quickly here so they stop standing out.

I returned last night and am staying at Lucy's temporary house in Brikama. Within an hour of being back and fed we lost power and instantly I'm straight back into the difficulties of life in The Gambia. It's pitch black with absolutely no ambient light. Everything is still packed, so somewhere at the bottom of my bag is a torch and new batteries, but I can't find them in the dark. Lucy manages to find a candle with about 1cm of life left in it, but it's enough to unpack the torch. I then proceed to get ready for bed in an unfamiliar house. Being in the spare room there is no mosquito net, so I liberally coat myself in DEET and get into bed. I'd forgotten how hot it can be. With no covers, I find myself assuming a somewhat familiar spread-eagled sleeping position. Under torch-light a few tiny droppings can be seen on the bed, I sweep them away then stop looking. I try to sleep but the insect paranoia kicks in. Not only could there be mosquitoes feasting on me, the bed is by the wall, so who knows what could drop off the wall onto me in the dark. There are plenty of cobwebs in the corner for me to worry about, and the insect noise from outside cannot be ignored. I've also been warned there's a mouse living somewhere in this house, and there's no net to protect me. Eventually the power comes back on. Lucy texts me from the next bedroom asking if I want the fan as she's not using it. I jump at the offer. Not only does the fan cool you enough to be able to use a top sheet, this in turn protects my feet from mosquitoes and the noise of the fan drowns out the insect noise. It's a winner on many levels.

The next morning after Lucy leaves for work I take the first of 4 more months worth of cold showers, pause for a moment to appreciate my dry towel still smelling of clean England laundry smells, then attempt to amuse myself for the day. It is pouring with rain. As none of the streets are paved, going out to do anything in the rain becomes a mission. Is is like going for a walk across muddy fields in flip flops and no waterproofs – a tad damp and slippery. So I don't bother. Not that there's anywhere to go if I could be bothered. I assess the washing up situation, prepared for it to be a little haphazard as it is Lucy's house I'm staying in. I can't go outside and fill a bowl with water, it's raining too hard and the yard is somewhat flooded., so I can't empty the full bucket of old washing up water either. I wash a cup in the bathroom sink and make tea instead. There's a stockpile of nearly but not quite empty gone-off milk cartons in the fridge. Luckily, one of them smells quite fresh. Sudoku and my new DS amuses me until lunch time, when I feast on instant noodles. Being the stay-at-home with no job house-mate, I feel like I should have dinner prepared for Lucy when she gets home. Having searched the cupboards I've found 2 onions, some squishy tomatoes and pasta. Good job I fattened myself up in the UK.

I will be attending a Leaver's workshop on Friday. Now that's something I like the sound of.Any views expressed are my own and are not representative of VSO.

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