An afternoon at the beach & the beginning of the end…

The sunsets on the Island are spectacular. Yesterday evening I sat on the pier with my new friends Alieto, Alfar and Nico (aged 8, 10 and 5 respectively) and watched the sun colour the waves golden and the sky orange, pink and violet before setting. Readying ourselves for a late one, we had a really chilled day, I went to the beach and paddled/ sat on the edge of the turquoise water. I had unfortunately given my camera to Fu for safe keeping so you will have to rely on my words for how beautiful it was. I was joined by my new friends and we managed to communicate in basic Portuguese and mostly my facial expressions. Alieto had got splinter in his foot and Alfar sharpened a piece of glass with a small stone in order to loosely cut around the splinter. Cue lots of grimacing and oohing from me. On further looking, Alieto had cuts all over his feet, I guess when you walk barefoot all the time this is common occurrence. Anyway the boys entertained my by showing me how far they could skim stones, paddling with me in the sea, and beat boxing and dancing. They have more rhythm and gymnastic ability than I have ever had and was a nice precursor to our upcoming evening. At one point they made a gift of several shells to me, then Alieto told me to eat one, I realized there was a small snail inside and demurred. Sweet of them to offer though. We walked over the pier and watched the sunset, then the boys followed/ walked me back to the hostel where I dispensed plasters and chocolate.

As partying doesn’t start until quite late here, we had several hours to chill, eat out at Sarah’s where we met several other travelers including two Oxford boys insisting that South of the River has an adequate transport system. Ach. We had capirhina’s on a gorgeous roof terrace bar then slowly walked over the bar where the partying would be. We could hear the pumping music from afar and we went into the smallish beach shack beside the sea. The music was a mixture of dance, African and Portuguese popular music and there was LOTS of shimmying and samba style dancing until the early hours, Fu impressed some of the boys a few new dance moves with his Chiny boi style. We only left because Maud had to get her chapa back to Nampula city at 4am and it was already 3.30am. Ach.

Today it doesn’t feel real that we are going to be heading back home so soon. I had a last minute skirt around the streets around the hostel and took some photos. I’ve taken hardly any photos here despite it being so lovely. We had a 6am start this morning to get back to Nampula where we will overnight then we are flying back to Nairobi where it all began. ACHHHHH. Definitely not ready to come home. Currently sitting on the terrace at Ruby’s Nampula with church singing in the background whilst Fu teaches Chipo how to play baow.

Gratefulness before and during Gambia.

Where to begin? So much has happened since I have last blogged and I am aware that I have a lot of catching up to do, so here it goes:

Before Gambia
Friday 11th November: I enjoyed yet another lovely meal with Devina in our favourite restaurant.
Saturday 12th November: I went to my first Feminist conference and really enjoyed hearing lots of new opinions and solutions. I love some food for thought; and that lots of new and old friends were there as well.
Sunday 13th November: I have been very lucky that lots of friends have been very generous in donating stationary, clothes, medical supplies etc but Devina’s mum and housemate surpassed themselves by giving me more clothes than I could carry! I also had a lovely Sunday dinner with the North London gang in my dad’s favourite family pub.
Monday 14th November: I remember I was quite stressed out that day because I was cooking for friends that evening but had not finished sorting all the donations I wanted to bring. However it was a really lovely evening, I enjoyed cooking and seeing people and I was very lucky that Hattie gave me lots of practical bits for Gambia which I definitely needed whilst there.
Tuesday 15th November: One of my colleagues came round to donate me some male clothes of which I had none and we had a good chat.
Wednesday 16th November: I was really nervous on Wednesday but lots of people were really sweet, Lisaane our intern let me use her international minutes to call Gambia and some colleagues gave some more donations. On my last night in the UK my dad came down to bring me some labouring gloves and more sweetly, Devina came down unannounced to help me pack my clothes and plan my evening outfits.
Thursday 17th November: I was really grateful to travel with my colleague Paul, it was good to have someone to chat to and to joke about with, especially when I was feeling quite nervous meeting the 30 odd other volunteers at the airport. Devina very sweetly texted us both to wish us a safe journey which I really appreciated. In fact it was good to hang out with Paul that day and in the days to come, a familiar face in our very large crowd. 
I love looking at the stars out of my bedroom window at night and there was a moment when I was walking back to our hotel and for some reason I turned around, looked up and the entire sky was lit up with stars that appeared to be glowing. A moment I will not forget.
Friday 18th November: At the end of our first working day, I was thankful to sip a drink at the side of the pool with Howard, eat an amazing fruit platter with him & Paul and then to have my first dip in the sea.
Now after friday I only made one more diary entry, but these are the things I was grateful for:
1. I was working with a lovely family, the Bradfords on our toilet block and with amazing teamwork we were able to go from this:
to the amazing finished product that was:

2. I was really thankful for my parents the day I visited the orphanage school. I don’t always get on well with my parents but seeing those small children with no parents, in a culture where family is the bedrock, really made me think. I sometimes take for granted that I have both my parents, and that they are healthy and well.
3. I am really thankful for all the lovely people that I met, both the volunteers and the family we were working with. Everyone was really nice and you didn’t mind who you worked with as there was a lot of camaraderie. The boys in the family we were working with were absolutely lovely, they looked after us really well, taking us around, answering all our questions, making sure we weren’t hassled too much etc. They work so hard in what is a much tougher environment and mucked in with us whilst making sure we were ok.
4. One of the sisters of the family we were working with made us a Gambian lunch so on three occasions we were able to enjoy authentic Gambian cuisine, this was especially welcome when you have been working hard in the 30 degree heat but also when your breakfast likes to exit before lunch! We ate really well and for me, much more healthier than usual!
5. The kids. What can I say? I loved seeing the kids everyday, and wished I could talk one of the four languages spoken in the Gambia! They were so cute and knowing that some of village children we met will be able to go to the school makes me want next November to hurry up so we can see them.
6. I am massively thankful for having had the opportunity to go to the Gambia and to see all that I have seen. I saw soo much and learnt something new everyday. I am grateful to Howard for asking me to come and then all year telling me that I would be fine, which of course I was.
We come to today:
I am thankful for being able to help make a difference; that my housemate and friends care about what I’ve been up and that our temporary housemate made me a lovely dinner this evening.

Day 5- Thankfulness

Today has been hard, I woke up at 5am this morning and spent the day with a group of children who seemed hard wired to ignore the word ‘listen’. Well that’s what it felt like! I am also feeling a bit run down from all my excess at the weekend. 

However as I am committed to writing this blog, I had a good think this evening about what was good today and this afternoon stood out. Today I worked with a child with severe special educational needs. This is only the second time I had done this so I am a complete novice where SEN is concerned but today I felt really pleased that I was able to communicate with her and was understood although she cannot really speak; and that I helped her to finish her homework -writing the letter ‘h’. I also helped her brother make a card, so I felt I was of use to some children and there is a lovely, warm feeling when you help a child to do their homework or learn something new. I might, just might have touched a well of patience I didn’t realise I had, I guess only time will tell if this is true or not…

Other than that, I am really pleased that I had the house to myself this evening and that I was able to stuff myself with pizza and cake whilst watching Gossip Girl. I was in real comfort mode this evening so have spent the evening in bed, wearing my Dad’s old golfing jumper.