Friday, September 14, 2007

Taking Advantage of a Working Phone Line

I returned from Banjul on Monday of this week. My phone hasn't been working since Tuesday. So, since it is a bright sunny day (praise the Lord- our solar needed it), I am making use of a working phone line and solar!

This is Kumba, one of the gals I took shopping last Saturday. She is wearing her new uniform and shoes and is carrying her new book bag. Kumba was named after our dear friend Ruth Wood, whose Gambian name is Kumba.

The Islamic Month of Ramadan started. This is the month of fasting from sun up until sun down. It is a long month. Please pray for the believers as this is a time of much trial for them. I will be swamped with requests for cold and hot water, chocolate and juice. It is an interesting month.

Interesting Days

The last few days have been very interesting. I will share with you some of the highlights.

I went into Banjul to see a doctor. Dr Jagne is from Nigeria and has been in The Gambia about a year. He is working at a private clinic not too far from our guesthouse. I had an appointment early Wednesday morning. They have a lot of nice equipment there. I had my pulse oximetry checked. He also ran some blood work at the lab there. Then came the big news, he wanted me to have a CT scan of the abdomen. I didn’t even know there was a a CT machine in the country. I learned a lot this week. He also wanted some other blood work. So, he gave me names and phone numbers of people at the city hospital. That afternoon I called about scheduling the CT scan. They told me to come down so they could read my paper. I wasn’t too happy about it, but decided I should walk out to the road and catch a taxi. (Now that is a story in and of its self. Ask if you want to know.) After I arrived at the hospital, I found the Radiology Department and they were waiting for me. I had the CT done that day. Thirty minutes later and I was finding a taxi to head back to the guesthouse. Praise God!
The next morning I was up early to catch a ride to the Lab at the same hospital I was at the day before. I went in to have the blood drawn. Four pokes later, (I tried to tell her to relax that I understood the difficulties of drawing blood), I was out the door until the afternoon. When I returned to pick up the results I found the cashier had left for the day. I asked when I could pay and was told “you can pay any morning Monday through Friday or you could just go. It doesn’t matter to us.” I returned Monday morning to pay the lab. The woman sitting near me was stunned when she heard how much I had to pay. She asked me in Wolof (she knew me by word of mouth and knew I spoke Wolof) why was my test SO expensive. I told her the truth, because I am a white person from another country. I was a bit shocked. I told her I didn’t expect it to be five bags of rice. She looked at me and said, it was five bags of rice plus the money needed to buy the ingredients for the sauces to go with the rice. That lovely lady was a blessing to my soul.
All though the tests were a bit expensive, I praise the Lord I was able to have the testing done.
Friday I had a return trip to Dr. Jagne to review all the results and obtain one more blood test. There was nothing scary wrong with me. I would have to eat small frequent meals to deal with the hypoglycemia.
Monday I headed home via the ferry once again. I had a new experience on the ferry. If you ever have the opportunity to visit The Gambia, you have to try the ferry. I didn’t take a car, so I was one of many of the walk on passengers herded onto the ferry just before it leaves the dock. I ended up standing with my suitcase, just behind a small black car with Gambian Government plates. I pulled out my umbrella to provide shade from the sun. The ferry turned around to travel in what we would think of as reverse (it has to do with what engines are working best on the ferry). It meant that I was now in the front as we crossed the river; we would turn around again for docking and unloading. But I had a nice view of the ocean and river as we traveled. There were a few fishing boats out in the river. One boat didn’t move and the ferry got too close. I could see the guys eyes as we passed. He was trying to get the anchor up and move. Apparently when we passed him, our wake caused the boat to tip and he went into the water. The ferry engines were cut. I couldn’t figure out why they were stopping in the middle of the river. The man next to me went to the side of the ferry to see what was up. The fisherman was okay, he was picked up by another boat and his boat didn’t sink. The ferry driver waited to make sure the man was okay before continuing on. Never a dull moment!

Monday, September 3, 2007

Back to School Shopping

Do you enjoy Back to School Shopping? I went for two hours on Saturday and had a blast. I went to pick up the neighbors two little girls (grade one and two) and a neighbor girl tagged along. We walked to the open market in the center of town. There I purchased uniform material for the two girls. The Third asked me about hers, and I was able to tell her my coworker Teresa was sewing her pants. Yassin, the oldest, then told me what was next on the list: shoes, books pencils, colors, eraser, a book bag and body lotion. They each grabbed a hand or two fingers and off we went. Those little faces were eyeing the tables of goodies for the perfect shoes. Yassin discovered her pair (bright purple) and pulled the rest of us over. Not to be out done, her younger half sister, Kumba, found a matching pair in orange. Ami shyly asked if she could have a pair. I agreed and she happily tried on her favorite, red pair. We tucked the shoes in the growing tote bag and were off. The list was yet to be finished. We hunted for book bags. The variety would NOT put Wal-Mart to shame. The only ones I found were at the grab pile. (I think these items came from a Salvation Army type clothing drop. All the bags were used.) Picture my three adorable little girls; they jumped up and down like we had hit a jackpot. They rummaged through the pile until each was beaming. Yassin’s choice was shades of purple, Kumba’s was red, and Ami picked out a teal colored bag.

Yassin consulted her checklist in her head. We were off yet again. Now the real fun part about making these purchases is that each time you buy… you barter the cost. I felt I made good deals on the shoes and sacks, but the owner of the body lotion wanted more than I was willing to part with. So, we walked away. Sometimes that works and other times like today, it doesn’t. (Okay it did for the shoes!)

Our next big stop was a snack, bean sandwiches. They were just what I needed. Fortified we were off to the tailor. That was a fun experience as the girls stood to be measured. The uniforms were delivered today. It was a great trip. I was a little sunburned, managed to pick up potatoes and onions and some apples. Now you ready (this would put Wal-Mart to shame), my grand total for two complete uniforms and material for 3 more pants, three pair of shoes, 3 book bags, 4 1/2pounds of potatoes and 2 pounds of onions, plus sandwiches for four… $26.

Am I a good shopper or what!