Sunday, 31 March 2013

For Angus (and anyone else who cares to read)

So Angus, you sent me an email this morning asking what Africa looks like and feels like.
These are flowers on the wall where I am staying. See the blue gate? That is the compound gate to WEC in Gambia. That is who Karen works for and where we are staying. Aren't they beautiful flowers? There are birds all over them sometimes.
I took some photos for you and hope it will help to answer your question.

Firstly, Gambia is coming to the end of the dry season. Other than one day's drizzle in January, there hasn't been any rain for several months. Consequently it is very dry and dusty. Ask Dad to explain what 34% humidity means. The air is dry; the ground is dry; I am dry and need to drink a lot.

The street outside where we are staying. You can see the dusty roads and the tower behind with the scaffolding? That is the local mosque (where Muslims worship) and every morning at 6.00 I am woken up by a loud call to prayer.
We are also close to the equator which means that the days are almost exactly 12 hours long and the nights are also 12 hours long. The sun is mostly overhead which means you don't get such long shadows like you do in England. It is also hot. Yesterday was about 35 degrees. Despite putting on sunscreen I did get a bit burned, and I was hot all day. Even in the evening when we sitting outside eating a meal I was warm and eventually put on a cardigan just because of the sea breeze.

Can you see the stitching around the outside?
Yesterday we went to a market. Sadly it was suggested that I didn't take any pictures there as it might not have been safe to take my camera out. The market was busy and you could buy lots of things there: most people have their clothes made, not bought ready made in a shop. Consequently there are lots of fabric stalls, haberdashery stalls (zips, buttons, lace, beads, so on pretty flowers and things), stalls selling mobile phones, buckets, brooms, copied music, and a lot of stalls that repair things. I had my sandles repaired. I had forgotten that the sole was falling off them but Karen said not to worry and Stush took them to a cobblers. For 50p the sole was sewn back on. In England I would have been told that they weren't repairable and to throw them out but in Africa, where people have less money, most things can be repaired.

Beautiful palm trees on the beach with Karen and Stush
Our drinks arriving
Later we went to the beach. The coastline here is on the east side of the Atlantic ocean and the waves are very strong. It is difficult to swim so Karen and I spent time jumping the waves and being washed over by them. I collected some shells for you and a sea urchin shell. We also had a drink made from orange juice, banana and baobab fruit. It was lovely. You need to look baobab trees up on the internet: they look a little as though they are growing upside down.

No idea what this is. It was wading in the waves.

There are also lots of beautiful flowers and birds here. II will try to take some photos of them for you. In the garden where we are staying there is a grapefruit tree. Most of the fruits have been eaten but there are still some left. Everybody is talking about when the mangoes will be ripe - in about two or three weeks time.  There are unripe mangoes falling off the trees all over the garden. Stush goes each morning to collect limes from a tree in the garden too. He make a lovely drink with bananas and lime juice and he has it for breakfast every day when the fruits are available. Most people here only eat fruits and vegetables that are in season as it is so expensive to import them.
In the garden where I am staying
Mangoes on the ground
The last few pink grapefruit

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