From My Room Sukuta, The Gambia
March 16, 6:47pm GMT
Arriving 3am local time to the Banjul Airport, I was warmly greeted by Pastor as he explained that the others had been held outside the airport at a military check point for failing to bring their documentation.
Greetings and orientations to my new room left little time for sleep on the first night before the morning call to prayer wakes the roosters who summon the donkeys.
My first walk of the compound in the morning light confirmed many fears about what had happened to many of the things established last trip.
In contrast people soon began to appear out of their homes I was joyfully greeted by familiar faces and introduced to many new ones. My favourite was Dilha, the compound’s only grandma, 40 yard dash to greet me repeating most of her English vocabulary inserting my name and Fula phrases that I don’t understand. It was comforting and a good reminder I am in a culture that expresses love and appreciation thought time spent and relationships not things accomplished.
After a full and pleasant church service, I pounded back a couple rounds of taiya (the sugary, tea based, expresso of Western Africa) listening in on mixed-Fula conversation and taking in the warm breeze which graced the shade under the mango tree.
Lunch served around 3pm was a compound favourite – potato leaves, hot pepper, pounded fish and oil on rice. It was a firm introduction to my stomach which didn’t necessarily sign up for the trip by choice.
Later, I had been invited out to meet this year’s SMILE team (group of young volunteer teachers from the UK) and have a chance to swim in the ocean a much needed refreshment after my travels.
Monday was spend at the market buying a table, spoons and other essentials for life. I met up my with my friend Musa who provided company and some protection from inflated pricing. The dusty streets, chaotic banter, herds of cattle and door falling off the transport van were all familiar slights and sounds welcoming my return.
Last night I visited my African mother Mariatu and dropped off some mail from other “children”. She was in great spirits and aside from being unable to stand up she was her usual self. I played some guitar for her and she gave me a good talk about how she can't depend on her own strength only God's.
Over following week I will be busy in informal meetings, observing and solving mysteries, in hopes to map out what the path forward will look like over the next 6 months.
With love from the Gambia.