Thursday, 23 January 2014

18.1.14 Saturday. A big visitor



This title has been given by the Gambians for the visit of my sister and her partner today, the first time they have been out to see us, and all our friends here are saying that it is a big visitor arriving today.  We made the beds and got the room cleaned ready, and then went with Mell to the beach for the afternoon, as the flight isn’t arriving until late today.  An afternoon and fish and chips Gambian style on the beach and then returned home in time to change and get to the airport.  The flight was early and we didn’t have long to wait before we saw them coming through the glass doors into the large arrival hall.  Luggage collected and stowed in the truck we drove home and got them settled in the house before a nightcap and an early night to catch up with sleep.

17.1.14 Friday. Loumen and home.



Awake early to the sound of the pump on the well as the ladies fetched water for the day, also the sound of the ladies pounding the cous for breakfast.  We got ready to go and set off back to Kaur with Jim and Sanaba to collect the remaining fire bricks for Loumen, we were unable to source these in Farafenni as the border has been closed and many supplies have run out in the town.  We decided to have breakfast first and so we went into Kaur and had our hot omelette sandwiches before picking up the bricks and delivering them back to Loumen along with some cement to start the job.  We met with the teachers at Loumen and explained that Sanaba would be along to start the work this afternoon, then returned to Kumbija to get the work on the wall started there.  Kebba had recruited some local labour and the foundation digging had started by the time we returned there.  We left Jim with the boys and Steve and I returned home via Soma, eerily quiet as the border is still closed and there were no trucks and only 5 cars waiting for the ferry.  We didn’t arrive back until just after dark, dusty and tired and grateful to Mell who cooked us a simple supper.  Her back is improved, one of our friends had called and left some medication and some advice on exercise.  She is still wincing when walking around though, and quite disappointed not to be up country.  Being bored whilst we were all away she has sorted out our DVD collection into categories!

16.1.14 Thursday. Kumbija



We got up at a reasonable time and checked to see if Mell was up to the travelling, unfortunately not, her back is still painful. so we loaded the truck with supplies and tools and set off around 9.30am.  We stopped up the road from our house and bought tools to replace any damaged ones from the last project and then Kebba and I got out at the bank to get the building funds before getting a taxi into Banjul to catch the small boat across the river.  Steve, Jim and one of the builders set off in the truck on the south bank.  We arranged to all meet up in Farafenni.  Kebba and I arrived on the shore and were carried aboard one of the small boats, we had to sit for two hours whilst it filled up before setting off for Barra at the other side of the river.  The ferry situation has not improved and only one ferry is running at the moment with something like a 5 hour turn around time.  We finally arrived in Barra and contracted a taxi to take us to Farafenni, calling at Ndungu Kebbeh on the way.  In February we have a school party arriving to go to Ndungu Kebbeh and we were making final arrangements for the visit.  We arrived in Farafenni after Steve and Jim and met them half way through their shopping expedition. Jim is staying to help build the wall and so we purchased a sponge mattress for him to sleep on and food for the family to cook for him.  All purchases complete we had lunch at one of the cafes and made our way to Kumbija, arriving around 4pm for the night.  We arrived at the school and unloaded our provisions then the phone rang and Sanaba told us he had been waiting for us at the side of the road in Kaur, about 35 miles away with a pile of fire bricks since the morning and wanted us to fetch him. The three of us got back in the truck and managed to call at Jamwelly, do a delivery and collect half the fire bricks and Sanaba, deliver them to Loumen and make it back to Kumbija just as it was getting dark.  Pa Sallah had offered to house the workers and Kebba had got Jim’s bed in place and returned with our evening meal around 8pm.  We ate the delicious meal and then Jim went off to spend the night with the rest of the builders at Pa Sallah’s compound.  Steve and I slept in our usual classroom for the night.

15.1.14 Wednesday. It takes a woman!!!



It’s always a sad day when good friends leave us and this year now they are retired, Ruth and John had managed 3 and a half weeks with us in the sunshine.  Sue and Graham came around to say goodbye also as they are leaving on Friday and we are travelling tomorrow.  Bags packed we set off for the airport in good time and as we all hate goodbyes we unloaded the luggage and then left them to wait for the flight whilst we went off to buy the rest of the cooking pots.  We managed to get them from the roadside on Kombo Sillah drive and paid less than the market, we then went along to Sukuta to buy the eating bowls and washing up bowls for both Jamwelly and Loumen to enable them to start the school feeding programme.  We were on our way back when Ousman rang to say the education truck would be with us in an hour!  We had been waiting for the director of Region 5 for transport for 5 weeks, the Lady director for Region 6 had a truck for us from the same department in 2 working days!  Women get the job done here!  We rushed back and met up with Jim, Kebba and some other boys to load the 100+ boxes onto the education truck for region 6.  That has left a hole in the storeroom, enabling us to move around more and see what is left.  Mell’s back is still bad and so we just walked slowly round the corner to Neil’s bar for a late lunch, rather than have her bouncing around in the truck.  We then went home and got everything ready for our trip up country tomorrow where we are starting the building of the wall at Kumbija. Jim is going to help but unfortunately Mell is having to stay behind and she is not happy about it as she was looking forward to the trip.

14.1.14 Tuesday Storeroom and beach



Whilst the six of us were having breakfast this morning, Mr Krubally arrived, he is a councillor for an area in Basse, and wanted books for 12 schools in his area.  We all finished breakfast and then whilst Steve and Kebba removed the black wire and made good the wall in the lounge, the rest of us went around to the storeroom to sort out some boxes for Basse.  We were still waiting for Region 5 to organise transport for their delivery of books, but Ousman has organised with the regional director for region 6 to have them instead; so we are also waiting for a truck for region 6 hopefully soon.. We all sorted boxes and loaded them onto our truck to drive around the corner to Hammy’s compound, also Krubally and a relative of this Mr Krubally.  We managed to pile the truck up and whilst Mell, and Ruth walked we drove and delivered the boxes to be collected later.  We all then got ready and went to the beach for the day, being Ruth and John’s last day.  Tuesday is quiz night and so we returned home and got ready for the quiz, we met up with Pat and Brian, Sue and Graham and another couple from Brians hotel.  We were split into two teams by the organiser as there were so many of us. and battle commenced.  We are all really competitive and like to win, so we were delighted when our teams came first and third and both therefore won some money.  Unfortunately Mell seems to have hurt her back whilst loading and moving the boxes and is in some discomfort whilst sitting down.

Sunday, 19 January 2014

13.1.14 Monday. Serrekunda market



Today we took Mell and Jim down to Naata to see first hand one of the Charity schools.  We arrived at break time and were mobbed by the many pupils here, before the bell was rung and they went into their respective classrooms.  Mell wanted to hear some of the songs that Faith had taught them a few weeks ago, so Abi took some of Abdoulies class into the playground whilst Steve and I took the younger class and gave them jigsaws and building bricks to play with.  We stayed until school finished as I had arranged to take Mariama shopping for bowls for the childrens lunches.  Abdoulie came along to translate and the 6 of us set off for Serrekunda market.  When we arrived the road was blocked by a marquee as yesterday had been a religious festival and prayers were still being said today, so we were unable to drive through to the market so Mell, Jim, Abdoulie, Mariama and I got out of the truck and continued on foot.  What a first day experience for our friends, the market is chaotic at the best of times and was busier than ever today, also extremely hot as it was just before 2pm.  We found a pot stall eventually, however it was such a long way back to the truck  with heavy purchases, that I only bought the pots for Naata and not the others I had wanted. We fought our way back to the truck, dropped off Abdoulie and Mariama and then continued on the main road to my hairdresser where they dropped me and went off shopping on their own, they were then going back to the house to collect Ruth and John.  We had all arranged to meet at 5pm for a sunset meal and so I got a taxi down to meet everyone when I had finished at the salon.  Dinner over, we crammed 4 of us into the back seat of the truck, with Jim in the front (he is over 6 foot) and returned home where I found that Steve had organised a satellite dish to be fitted so we can get the news! They had left the electrician fitting the cables but unfortunately he had run the black wire straight down the newly painted cream wall in the lounge, which was a bit of an eyesore – so a job for the morning for Steve and Kebba!

12.1.14 Sunday. Canadians arrival



Up and prepared the room ready for this evenings guests and then off for
Sunday lunch today at Sambas, a buffet of great proportions!  Ruth and I then went shopping for a while before returning home for the afternoon.  Steve and I set off for the airport in time to meet our next arrivals, friends from Canada who are here for the next month or so.  The plane was on time and we eagerly awaited a glimpse of them through the glass doors, when we saw Mell coming out looking for us, Jim had missed the part on the immigration form where you have to state where you are staying, and they had detained him in the immigration hall.  I had to go back in with Mell and help the complete the form before they were allowed to collect their luggage and come home with us. We haven't seen them for a few years, but like most friends we were soon laughing and talking and catching up on the news.  Ruth and John had gone out for the evening and joined us later for drinks and a get to know you chat.

11.1.14 Saturday. Makasutu



Ruth and John’s holiday is coming to an end soon, so we are making the most of the time left.  We were up early this morning and decided to go to Makasutu, a wildlife park and eco lodge holiday resort just up the river from where we live.  We set off  after breakfast through Brikama and arrived at the park late morning.  We were given a guide, Benedict, and set off to walk through the forest, bird watching on the way.  We arrived at a new cafĂ© area where a swimming pool has been built and the boarding area for the boat to go through the mangrove swamps.  We had arrived at low tide, and so the boat ride was a shorter one than normal as the sand banks prevented us going all the way round.  We spotted several monkeys and lots of different birds before returning to the bank. A cold drink was called for and then a walk further into the forest, where we met a troop of baboons making their way along the forest paths.  Lots of photographs later we returned to the meeting place and got into the car to visit the palm wine tapper area, where a man demonstrated the art of climbing a palm tree barefoot to tap into the flowers to get the palm wine which is non alcoholic when collected, but very soon ferments into a lethal brew!  All our visit over we returned to the Kololi area where we had a Lebanese meal and then at last the ice cream!  Home for the evening and a film.

Wednesday, 15 January 2014

10.1.14 Friday. St Johns school for the deaf.



A very subdued Kebba greeted us this morning, the small boy, (around 8 or 9) had died the previous day and had already been buried according to tradition.  He had hit his head on the cement sides of the well and had died from his injuries. We gave our commiserations and enquired about the open well, apparently a muslim charity are about to modify the well and add a cap and pump to it. . Too late for this poor boy. 
Steve and I went to the storeroom and loaded up the truck, then went off to visit St. Johns school in Serrekunda.  We had a delivery from a school with the same name in Boston Spa, England.  We arrived and met the head teacher who gave us the history of the school, and showed us some of the work that the pupils had done. The school has 256 deaf children, ranging from 7 years to 21, they cater for all the grades and have added technical skills lessons to equip them for a trade.  They are always in need of hearing aids, they have the ability and equipment to produce their own ear pieces.   I wrote down the details for St Johns school for the deaf in England, and then we went back home for the rest of the afternoon.  The four of us fancied a pizza this evening, and so we headed off to Kololi and Paradiso for pizza.  We enjoyed the pizza and then went decided to go for an ice cream at the parlour down the strip, however it was quite chilly by our standards when we arrived and opted for hot pancakes instead, a new addition to the area!

9.1.14 Thursday. Tragedy in Berending



After a leisurely breakfast we were setting off to deliver some things to Nyofelleh school in the south of the country.  Kebba received a call from his village, Berending, and had to dash off as a small boy, a neighbour, had fallen down the well and needed to go to the clinic straight away.  We gave Kebba money for a taxi and off he went.  We drove down to Nyofelleh and delivered the goods donated by St. Peters school in Wakefield.  Ruth and John looked at some of the classrooms and the work being done, and then we visited the nursery school which is now part of the Lower Basic school, and took some chairs for the smaller children.  We left and drove back up the coast road to Batakonko clinic, where we met Kassima and delivered some blankets for new babies knitted by volunteers in the UK, and some files and paper to be used for record keeping.  There were no patients this morning, one lady had given birth by candlelight in the night and had been discharged before we arrived.  We left there and went on to Tanji village where we visited the museum for the first time.  This place, new to us, is divided into sections, wildlife of the Gambia, local crafts, and a traditional Mandinka village.  We all enjoyed the visit and spent a happy two hours here before moving on to the fishing village itself where we bought a butterfish for tea.  Sue and Graham joined us for tea and part of the evening.  Kebba still had not returned and so we retired not knowing the outcome of this mornings accident.

8.1.14 Wednesday. Rotarians visit.



Steve and I went to the Kairaba hotel this morning to meet a couple from Scotland, they had contacted us through a relative and were members of Rotary International.  They had booked to come on holiday and then been told by their club to take lots of photographs of charity work over here.  We met in the courtyard outside the hotel and then went down to Nemasu to show them around.  The school was in full swing when we arrived, and we went first into the office to meet Mr Sallah, and then into each classroom in turn to see what the children were doing this morning.  Jolly phonics was the subject in two classes and handwriting in the third.  We then went into the village to see where the children lived and how far the well team had got with the renovations. They have dug the extra depth needed as the well was drying up, and fashioned the cement rings to go down and the lid for the top, to enable a pump to be fitted.  The village children followed us through the village, grabbing our fingers and trying to hold hands.  We returned to the school and then went on to visit Naata as we had some more goods to deliver.  It was break time when we arrived, and the children greeted us in their usual fashion, shaking hands and then trying to hold on, stroking our skin and looking at jewellery.  We met all the class teachers and looked at the classrooms before leaving and making our way back home.  We relaxed at home with Ruth and John in the afternoon and then watched a film after dinner in the evening

7.1.14 Tuesday Steves Birthday.



We were up in good time and breakfasted round the pool.  We had promised Mr Jallow that we would call today and see the finished renovations to the school at Naata.  We loaded up some resources and travelled down to the nursery school.  Mr Jallow is delighted with the ‘new look’ school and so he and Steve spent some time in the office, whilst Ruth and I sat in with the teachers and watched the lessons.  We stayed most of the morning as Steve and Ibraima were adding two display boards in the office.  We returned home for the afternoon to meet up with John who had stayed behind today.  In the evening we went to the Courtyard for the weekly quiz, where we met up with Pat and Brian, some friends of theirs and Sue and Graham.  We had to split our table into two teams as there were 10 of us, and half the table managed third for the evening.  Good fun and good company a few drinks and a meal. Steve enjoyed his day.

6.1.14 Monday. Back home



We rose early as the animals, birds and the sun wake you here.  We had breakfast and then got our luggage to load the truck.  Our guide from yesterday was waiting for a lift down to the Kombos, the bush telegraph must have been working as we didn't remember mentioning that we had transport, or that we were leaving today.  He was going to attend a meeting at Abuko, which is the headquarters for the wildlife department here in the Gambia.  The road is completed all the way now and we had a very smooth and pleasant trip back, only stopping once to buy firewood for Mr Sallah for Nemasu, as it is cheaper here than in the urban area.  We dropped our passenger in Brikama, and got home around 1.30pm, so we had time to relax around the pool before going round to our neighbours (Sue and Graham) for a barbecue and a pleasant evening with them.

Tuesday, 7 January 2014

5.1.14 Sunday. National Park and Boat Trip.



We rose early, and went to the car park to go into the National Park on one of the large safari trucks.  Our guide met us and we set off to the Park, stopping on the way every time there was a bird of interest for us to look at. The Park is about a 15 kilometre drive until you enter into the actual game reserve.  Our guide was very knowledgeable and was able to find several birds of prey for us to observe as well as the usual small colourful birds that we see every day.  We saw baboons at a distance, and then on the river bank we saw a marsh mongoose, the first we have ever seen.  There are more than 650 species of birds here in The Gambia, and so we always see new ones on each trip.  We spent 4 hours driving around and then returned to the camp for breakfast.  A lazy day round the pool, and then we got ready for the evening boat trip across the river into the mangrove swamps on the other side.  This part of Gambia is surprising, because in amongst the very tall  mangroves are large areas of very green land which look like English meadows.  There are many birds here and we were able to see lots of herons, darters, an osprey (from Europe) and many small birds too.  We also saw 4 very large monitor lizards and 3 crocodiles, before crossing the river back to the camp.  An added bonus on the return journey we saw several dolphins playing in between the boats. we had sprayed ourselves with mosquito repellent, but we had all got bitten by something else, probably fire ants, very painful.
Back to camp and a buffet meal this evening, as there were many more guests today, then  an early night.

4.1.14 Saturday. Naming Ceremony



We had travelled up country especially for the naming ceremony today, as Mr Sowe has decided to name his latest daughter after me.  This is considered a great honour here in Gambia and we had been consulted as to our availability before the date had been set.  We were awake early and had brought some things for the local clinic, so we delivered the items before we returned and got dressed in our best African finery for the occasion.  Everything was loaded into the truck and we set off for Farato where we were collecting Ousman’s family to take along with us.  Everyone was ready and dressed in their best clothes, so we all climbed aboard and set off for Pallen.  On arrival the four English guests were taken into the house to meet the new baby and her mum.  The next eldest girl is also being named today and Mr Sowe had decided to name her Dorothy after my mum who passed away last August.  Both girls were introduced to us and photos taken of all of us.  Mr Sowe had invited everyone he worked with at both Kumbija and the school where he works in the afternoon, everyone from his village, all the surrounding villages and people from Farafenni.  Consequently there were at least 200 grown ups and probably as many children all gathered in the compound.  We were asked to visit each house in the compound and meet all the family members, so we were escorted around by one of the girls who spoke English, and seated in some of the houses to meet various relatives, this took over an hour, and then we returned to the first house and waited for breakfast.  This had been promised for 11am, but as usual things didn’t go on time and it was 1pm before breakfast was served to all the guests.  The traditional Fula breakfast is sour milk with couscous and sugar, but knowing that we are not fond of it, Mr Sowe had arranged for the four of us to have chicken with pasta and cous.  We were taken into a separate house and waited on by one of his nieces, the breakfast arrived and it was very tasty, and lots of it.  The official part of the day was yet to come and so we adjourned to the courtyard where we could sit in the shade.  The elders of the village and the family members then went into the house where the baby had been born, and the official ceremony took place.  This consists of prayers and the actual naming of the child or children.  A Griot (singer of the family history) then came out into the courtyard and announced that the youngest child had been named Hilary, and that my name would live forever in the village. Traditionally children here are named after someone in the family, so the name continues down the generations and it literally continues forever.  Lots of hand shaking then took place as people wanted to meet me, and ask about mum.  We finally persuaded Mr Sowe to let us leave before the afternoon meal which he was also providing, but we explained that as we had eaten such a large and delicious breakfast we would not be able to eat anything else, also we felt that as the timing had already slipped by 2 hours it would be dark before we could leave.   We said our goodbyes and got into the truck to drive to Tendaba camp on the south bank of the river to spend two nights enjoying the wildlife.  We arrived around 4pm without incident, still no queue at the ferry, and managed a swim and relax before a small evening meal and bed.  This is not the most comfortable of the bird camps, the beds are certainly not 5 star!  The advertisements for the camp give you some idea of the terrain, 'ten million mosquitos cannot be wrong, Tendaba camp is fabulous!'

3.1.14 Friday Kumbija.



The road to Soma is almost complete now and we were not in a hurry to get to Kumbija as the school is still closed for the holidays.  We got up and had breakfast and then loaded the truck before setting off around 10am.  The new truck is very comfortable, quiet and reliable, so the journey was uneventful until we reached Soma, where we found the queue for the ferry had been moved nearer the town as they were also renovating the actual road down to the ferry.  There were no wagons, which is very unusual as this is the main highway between Senegal and Gambia for trade. We were able to pass by and stand near the terminal and only waited about an hour before a ferry arrived and we were able to cross.  At the other side there was also no wagons and only a few cars waiting to get on the ferry.  Apparently there is some problem in Senegal and the border has been closed, no-one is travelling at the moment, unfortunately this also means that many supplies are not arriving in Gambia, including cement.  We arrived in Farafenni, did some shopping and then had lunch before driving to Loumen with a delivery of items needed for the new term.  Tamba the caretaker met us and we were able to unload everything into the office.  We then drove on to Kumbija, where we were staying for the night.  Alieu the teacher let us into the school as the caretaker is on holiday until tomorrow.  We assembled our beds for the night and then Mr Sowe came to see us before our dinner arrived.  Poor man, he has not slept all week, worrying about the naming ceremony tomorrow.  We let him go and then showered before dinner which had been cooked by Ousman's daughter and delivered by Alagie his brother. A delicious meal of vegetables and rice consumed under the stars before bedtime.

2.1.14 Thursday. Guests, Nemasu and Naata



Steve set off this morning to collect 4 guests from Sunset Beach hotel to take them to Nemasu for a look around.  We had arranged for Mr Sallah to be there to open up this morning.  I had organised a mini-bus to collect 6 guests, part of Amy’s party and myself to also go to Nemasu.  We were late as the minibus I had organised was not one of the tourist taxis and we got stopped outside the hotel and had a lecture from the taxi controller before he would let us through on this occasion.  The guests had to walk to Yashminas to get on board the bus.  We arrived at Nemasu and everyone looked around the classrooms, admired the childrens’ work and the school, whilst chatting to the teachers who had all come in to meet everyone. We then walked into the village to look at the well which is being altered to have a pump on the top instead of an open well. Some of you may remember that there was an accident last year at Jamwelly when one of the children fell down the open well and drowned.  The problem is that frequently the full water container is heavier than the child pulling it up.   There was much excitement in the village as all the children are on holiday this week and it was like the Pied Piper walking down to the well.  When everything had been inspected and discussed on we loaded up the vehicles and took everyone back to their respective hotels.  After lunch Steve and I went down to Naata to see how far the boys have got with the work, and make sure they have all the supplies needed before we travel up country tomorrow.  The work is almost complete, they should finish on Saturday in time for the children returning to school on Monday.  We had taken extra supplies and another cupboard down to the school, and these were arranged, Mr Jallow’s office was also cleaned and tidied before we left for home.  This evening Ruth, John, Steve and I joined Amy’s family and friends at Yashmina’s for a last meal before everyone departs tomorrow and Saturday.  There were 25 of us, the restaurant split the table into two with a waiter at either side taking the order for food.  They could only cope with half at a time, so half of the table were served both starter and main course before the other side had received their starter.  Fortunately everyone was happy talking until the food arrived.  A lovely evening before all the goodbyes were made and we returned home.

1.1.14 Wednesday New Year



Another year has passed, where do they all go?  A little hung over today, but we still
managed to get up and go to Naata, where Ruth and I were cleaning all the chairs, tables and classrooms; and Steve and John were putting up all the display boards.  It was very hot and very hard work, so we got two of the local ladies to help us with all the cleaning.  The classrooms have all been newly painted and look very smart, we just have the office to sort out now.  We managed to clean everything, the heat really slows you down, all the boards were cut to size and mounted on the walls, new resources were added to the classrooms, and new reading books displayed. We left late in the afternoon, very dirty and hungry so we returned home for a simple cooked meal this evening, and a rest with a film.

31.12.13 Tuesday. New Year’s Eve



We are hosting the New Year celebrations tonight, and so we spent the day getting ready at home.  Lots of balloons were blown up and strung round the garden, impromptu candle holders were made from half water bottles, and hidden in the bushes.  Everyone was having a meal before they arrived, so we went to Timeless around 6pm to eat before returning home to get changed and wait for the guests. Nibbles were provided on the tables in the garden.  We had invited neighbours and friends as well as Amy’s family and friends.  By 9pm the party was in full swing, albeit more subdued than yesterday after all the wedding excitement.  At midnight we were on the roof to welcome the New Year and watch the fireworks in Senegambia.

30.12.13 Monday. Amy’s and Francis' Wedding



One advantage of getting married here is that you are guaranteed the weather, and today dawned bright and sunny.  We had arranged for the wedding cars to come to our house first so that we could trim them up with white and turquoise ribbons to match the bride and bridesmaids.  They were all early, (surprise!) and Ruth, John and I trimmed the three cars and two mini-buses with all the ribbon.  A quick change and then we were all ready to go to the hotel for the wedding guests, and more importantly the bride.  Sanna, our bridal driver looked really smart in a white shirt and black trousers, his black range rover was spotless, as were the other cars.  We arrived at Senegambia where the mini-buses were collecting the guests, and I went with the bridal car through the increased security into the Kairaba Hotel where Amy, her parents, brother and girlfriend were staying.  Because of the number of African states represented this morning they would only allow 2 of the 3 cars in the drive at a time, so we quickly sent off Amy’s brother and party to make room for the bridal car in the driveway.  Steve and I hurried back to the Senegambia to climb into a minibus and we all set off for the church.  St Theresa’s church is enormous inside and even though there were more than 50 in the party we looked lost in the huge building.  Francis, the bridegroom, was waiting outside for us all with his two best men, it was explained to him that he should be inside and so he joined us all in the middle of the church to wait for Amy and her father.  Everyone had arrived on time (not Gambian time) and soon we saw the bridesmaids and Amy through the glass doors.  Amy looked beautiful, her dress was calf length, off ground level, (very sensible here) a full skirt and a lace bodice with lace sleeves.  She came into the church on her father’s arm and joined Francis at the front of the church.  There were three bridesmaids, two friends of Amy in turquoise blue, and a young relative of Francis in a white knee length dress, holding a heart on a stick in white and turquoise.  The service went without a hitch and we were all invited to get up and shake hands with the grooms’ family on the right of the church at the end.  We gathered outside for photos, before leaving for the Kairaba hotel for the reception.
The balcony which had been reserved for the wedding party was unavailable this morning because of the security council, so we all gathered on the lawn at the rear of the hotel for champagne, courtesy of the hotel for the inconvenience.  After all the photographs had been taken, we adjourned to the restaurant for dinner.  This part of the wedding was very much like an English wedding, a top table, tables of guests around the room, a table with a cake, and a sit down dinner.  The speeches followed with both Amy and her father getting uncharacteristically emotional, Francis translating for both sides and an amusing speech by one of the best men.  The afternoon passed quickly and soon it was time to leave for the evening at Francis’s compound.  The evening was definitely African,, everyone in the area had been invited,as well as relatives and friends, there was drumming, hip hop music, dancing, and many children running between all the tables.  The compound had been decorated in white and blue fabric, all the chairs had sashes round them, there was a marquee at one end of the courtyard and a top table.  It was very noisy and colourful, typical of events here.  An excellent buffet meal was served later in the evening, lots of drinks were consumed and friends made.  We left just before midnight after a very long and enjoyable day.

29.12.13 Sunday. Pre wedding dinner

Back to Naata this morning with timber and corrugate for the roof.  We met the welder man and ordered doors, a window and a storage unit for the new storeroom. Bas has almost finished the painting, it looks really good, so we decided to add more display boards to save Blutack being stuck all over the new paintwork.  We went and bought more plywood for the boards and then returned home for the afternoon. This evening Steve and I have been invited to meet Amy’s family at a pre-wedding dinner. Ruth and John are staying behind and eating at home.  We got changed and made our way to Cabanas to meet the family and friends here for the wedding tomorrow.  18 of us met, introductions made , and then we all watched the sunset over the sea as we had a very nice meal, drinks and company for the evening.  There is increased security at the wedding hotel as an emergency security council meeting has been called with representatives from 12 African states gathering to discuss the crisis in Sudan.  This means that we have to get the registration numbers of the wedding cars and the drivers names to log them with security on the gate, otherwise they may not be allowed in tomorrow.
We returned home later in the evening and contacted the drivers, small hitch, the Mercedes we were borrowing is still not working, so we are taking the land rover instead.

28.12.13 Saturday Naata



more supplies needed at Naata this morning for the work going on there.  We are refurbishing the classrooms, building a new toilet block and a new storeroom.  Steve and I went down to the school and sorted supplies, inspected the work so far and delivered a new cupboard for Abdoulie’s classroom. The trowels we supplied have ‘spoilt’ so we replaced them, arranged for some more cement to be delivered on donkey cart, and then returned home to join Ruth and John for the rest of the day and evening.