Day Sixteen - Sunday, February 10th, 2002 - Fajara - Safari Gardens Hotel

I got up at the same time as yesterday again today. This time NO swimsuit (call me an exhibitionist but it is VERY private in the bath area anyway though a bit awkward pulling up water from the well with only a towel around my waist). I began to pack up my things, taking down the mosquito net, killing as many of the bed bugs as I could leaving red spots all over the net.

Breakfast was once again the rice porridge with Oustas before Chris came to get me in Papa Joof's car. We took a few minutes to get everyone together for a picture before heading back into town. They all asked me if I would come back to visit and I said I would – after all, they are my Gambian family and I am Abdouli Cham.

Cham Family Cham Family at Sanyang

We all gathered in front of the bank and were amused to see that Jolanda and Marcel were wearing clothes they had been given by their homestay (they both matched – Awwwwwwwwww…). It was a bit awkward as Oustas waited with us for a few minutes before Ebrima came with the car to take us back to the camp.

We spent a few minutes writing up what we thought about the homestay experience, passing a few thoughts on to Alhaji about this. It was not all that positive and I can't help but feel that we are just a bunch of moaning spoiled people though, thinking about it, we all put a lot of effort into our experiences and we all very much enjoyed the people we met and the things we did, it is just that the situation is so very much contrived we felt awkward almost all of the time – being the centre of attention and lack of any meaningful communication was very hard.

We had our last lunch at the camp before all heading back to Safari Garden. The afternoon we spent unloading our things into our rooms (we were once again sharing since the hotel had an unexpected number of visitors show up while we were gone). I am sharing a room with Philip which is OK since we are working in very similar jobs in, goodness, only a week from now.

It is a bit surreal to be back at the hotel after the previous week. This is yet another world of experiences from what we have done. We all feel as if we have accomplished something and know that the real challenge – work – is yet to come. What we have really been brought here to do. All of this has been just pre-amble.

Sam and Jane both had a great time up country though the trip took a long time and they had difficult experiences at their homestays. The trip should only take about 3 hours but it took around about 6 because of the conditions of the road, the amount of stuff that was piled in the back of the vehicle (for their houses) and the dust and heat that was quite bad. They had a lot of trouble because they did not use the air conditioning in the vehicle and the windows had to be up because of the dust so they were VERY hot. Their homestays did not have any filtered water so that made things a bit difficult. They are both very excited with their houses though and are looking forward to leaving for there in another week.

⇒ Continue to Day Seventeen - Monday, February 11th, 2002 - Fajara - Safari Gardens Hotel