Last month, Mel and Dee Bixley went to The Gambia and visited many of the African Oyster Trust's projects. The following blog post is Part II of a series of articles based on extracts from Dee's diary. You can read the background to their involvement with the Trust, plus the first extract from the diaries, here.
Thursday 6th February
At 10am we begin our journey up country. Our final destination tomorrow will be Jappineh Health Centre, the home of the ambulance. We collect Fanding en route and he and Kira debate whether this will be a goat, cow or donkey day.
In fact, the leisureliness with which all these creatures wander into the road makes it a ‘mixed’ day. Driving in Gambia has many challenges. Most of the unmade local roads have huge potholes to negotiate. And where sand has accumulated, the need to accelerate and go with the ‘skid’ is imperative if you don’t want to get stuck. Once we understand that Kira knows exactly what she’s doing, we relax!
As to Gambia’s major roads, there are regular check points where you must stop for the police, military or immigration authorities. However, as soon as they realise its Kira, their stern attitudes soften and they salute with alacrity. The fact that a gun is pointing at us from a camouflaged hut nearby doesn’t matter - Kira has clearly earned their respect and affection.A visit to The Big Tree Nursery received an ecstatic welcome for Kira and Fanding!
We arrive at Moses Guest House in Soma, the best place to stay near Jappineh.
Moses is a small establishment, five or six rooms situated around a courtyard, where we drink tea from pint mugs. Kira must read something in my face - “How’s your comfort zone, Dee?!” she teases. She is right to do so.
After all, we have a flush loo, a tap in the wall for cleaning our teeth, and Kira has thoughtfully supplied a travel kit of essentials.
What’s more, our host has been out and purchased toilet paper for us. When people are this keen to please - to hell with my OCD tendencies!
The News Diary is a regular account of all that is happening at The African Oyster Trust. Please pop back for regular updates, follow us on Twitter or sign up for our RSS feed to have the latest news sent straight to your computer!
The news diary is written by a number of people close to the work of the African Oyster Trust, including founder James Holden, his co-directors, trustees and volunteers.