Saturday, November 13, 2010
Oct - Nov 2010: Halloween and Phase 2 Treks
Pictures (from top to bottom);
1. - 13. Visiting the new education volunteers on trek.
14. Reading a HUGE dictionary.
15. Visiting a new education volunteer on trek.
16. A ? spider ? I found near my front door.
17. A halloween party in Basse.
18. The donkey driver of Soma.
19. - 21. Visiting the new education volunteers on trek.
22. A goat on a motorcycle.
23. High water in Basse.
24. - 25. Visiting a new education volunteer on trek.
26. Using the internet via a cell phone on the hood of our Jeep.
27. Visiting a new education volunteer on trek.
28. Sunny in the sun.
29. Visiting a new education volunteer on trek.
30. - 31. Getting the Tanki Lower Basic School Library going.
32. Not-so-useful books for a Gambian library.
33. Useful books for a Gambian library.
34. - 37. Getting the Tanki Lower Basic School Library going.
38. The wheelbarrow they gave me to carry books over to the library. The flat tire made it useless.
Not too long after I had taken a run along Ogunquit beach in Maine, I found myself running along the Gambian coast near Tanji; from one side of the Atlantic to another. Though I was still a little jet-lagged and readapting to the heat, I got right back to work at school and at the office. My new counterpart, the deputy head teacher of Tanji Lower Basic School, showed me a storage room where they had extra desks piled up to the ceiling and about 20 boxes of books scattered below them on the floor. First, I had to find a room to put all the books in. I had the grade 5 students clean out an unused classroom that was full of old, broken desks and chairs. I then swept about 1000 years worth of dust out of the room and began to wage war on the termites that lived in the far wall. Once the room was relatively clean and secure, I set about moving the books over. Getting the boxes out of the room required me to crawl into the maze of stacked desks to get to them. I kept waiting for the whole pile to collapse and bury me inside the room. Needless to say, I was soon covered in cobwebs, dust, and sweat. A few parents were visiting the school and gave me quite a look as I walked by. For the last few weeks I have been arranging and recording the books. I had a local tailer make curtains for the windows and I plan to bring in better furniture. However, I managed to find and repair enough shelves to house the books. Work has gone slowly though, mostly because I have frequently been called away from site to go on phase 2 treks. We have already gone out on two, week-long treks to visit the new education volunteers at their sites. Everyone seems to be doing really well and I was happy to see them all again. I even had the opportunity to visit my old site and school. The library that I worked on is still being used and my old host-family, the Chams, are all doing well. Omar, my old host-brother, had moved into my old hut and was managing the solar set-up that I had left behind for him. I spent Halloween in Basse with a few old Upper River Region friends. This involved taking a gele up South Bank road, which took 10 hours. The the gele did not leave till late in the evening and we drove on into the night. After a few hours, the smell of burning plastic filled the gele and the head lights went out. The driver then spent a long time fiddling with and reattaching wires below the steering wheel until the lights came on again. However, every time we hit a bump after that the lights would flisker. I was pretty thankful when we reached Basse. For Halloween I dressed up as an aparante (the guys who cling onto the backs of bush taxis and geles to shout their destination at you and collect your fare). However, I ended up looking more like a Rasta without the muscle mass. I continue to divide my time now between the school and the office. Not having a more regular schedule has presented a few challenges, but I am starting to establish a routine. Everyone here in The Gambia is buying rams and having new clothes made in preparation from Tobaski. I'm looking forward to all the meat that is suddenly going to be available!