Coming Home

Forget the football because with only a month to go RACHEL IS COMING HOME. I hope plans for my surprise welcome home party are progressing nicely.
And with just a few weeks to go I have pulled up my socks and am working on finishing everything I've started and everything I haven't yet started (new website I'm looking at you). Ordinarily just the thought of how much I have left to do would bring me out in a sweat, but I’m already sweating, so I don’t even notice, so I am perfectly chilled about it (although not literally because Hot).
Did I mention before that its hot? Well now its major humid too because the rainy season is upon us. And in true late-to-the-party diva stylee it all kicked off with a Great Storm that whipped up so much red dust I couldn't see out the windows and started to wander if I wasn't in Kansas anymore but instead was about to land in Oz/Mars/a dystopian apocalypse. Many buildings across the area had their roofs torn off or completely buckled. But of more note, all my clothes, sheets and towels that were happily drying in the sun got absolutely soaked and covered in mud.
The rains also herald the start of the busiest few months at the clinic. Pretty soon, we'll be seeing people with malaria, and more people with malnutrition, gastroenteritis and respiratory illnesses. This means nearly all units across the clinic will have their hands full with more patients to treat and the ward at full occupation. Fortunately, another doctor is coming out for a few months - taking the total of doctors up to two!
The ward
The ward


You know they say travel teaches you things? Well, I have learned that in times of peril I clutch my skirts like a Victorian Lady who’s just seen a mouse. Skirt clutching scenarios include:
  • Great storms with thunder and lightning that is very very frightening and had me considering whether or not to run to my neighbours so I wouldn't face the apocalypse alone.
  • Wandering round a park with ‘tame’ crocodiles. Apparently they get fed well, so they're not hungry and so they won't eat people.
"If one of these things kills me don't let my mum know. I'll get no sympathy for voluntarily walking around potentially deadly animals."
  • Hundreds of flying creatures invading the kitchen (and blocking my access to ice cream) and a gecko barring me from escaping outside.
Holla at me Hitchhikers fans because a towel really is just about the most massively useful thing any interstellar Hitchhiker can carry.
Holla at me LOTR crew because the way was shut, this Gecko had made it and he was keeping it.
Repeat after me: I will appreciate God’s wondrous creatures. I will appreciate God’s wondrous creatures. I will appreciate God’s wondrous creatures. I will appreci... But surely some of these beasts have been conjured in the fiery pit of Mordor?
In other non Rachel vs Nature news, I am no longer the only toubab in the clinic! I have a fellow foreigner with whom to share my Toubab Tiara with. Meet Anorthe, a student midwife from Germany, who on her very first morning with us, which also happened to be her birthday, helped deliver a baby!


Please pray for her, she is having to live through my extremely experimental cooking. Though I think I’m doing a pretty good job styling like I’m used to life here and know how Gambia works. But there are still plenty* things I am not used to, including:
  • The abundance of mangoes in Mango season. Currently eating atleast one a day and hoping the yellow/orangeness of it all is topping up my tan (don't tell me this is not how science works, I'm not interested in your facts).
  • How many people have a daughter / son / wife / husband / father / mother / sister / brother / aunt / uncle etc who died before they were old. Accidents, illness...
  • Feeling so uneducated. Everyone here seems to speak two or three languages. I only speak one and now a small small* amount of Gambian English.
  • The difference the rain has made - the dry and dusty landscape is turning a glorious green. I find myself staring in amazement at patches of grass where I've only seen dust. Living water indeed.
  • Not having a washing machine. Being a fancy toubab my things get handwashed by one of the ladies in the village. But even fancy toubabs have to wash their underwear. May or may not have had to wear my bikini a few times when I've forgotten to do some washing. Also, everything that dries outside has to be ironed to kill any eggs laid in it by mango flies – if not, your body heat hatches the eggs and the larvae burrow into your skin. Am becoming a massive fan of ironed bed sheets (this is what it must be like to be royalty). May or may not have made a massive hole in one of my only three bras when I attempted to iron it (bet this is something Kate and Meghan have never had to deal with).
Though something I am getting used to/have become socially conditioned to accept - if there's no rice or bread are you even eating? I've decided to embrace all my loose, flowing, non-figure hugging clothes and just eat All The Foods. And by all the foods I mean carbs, starches and sugar. And by carbs, starches and sugar I mean bread, rice and biscuits. Its fine, I won't have a job when I get home. I will just live at the gym.
As ever, please tell me all your news. And don't forget - in just a few weeks I will be on-my-way-coming* home!
Till next time team x x
P.S. Still haven’t found Wakanda. The quest continues.
P.P.S. Don't forget the hot air balloon for my party. Or the cake. And if there could be a couple of Alpacas there too that would be fun. And maybe a disco ball. And Beyonce, could you get Beyonce there also? And Gin - a gin fountain would be fun. And pizza.
P.P.S. Watch this space because we have just finished editing a short video about the clinic!
*this is not poor grammar. This is Gambian English.

7 thoughts on “Coming Home

  1. Val

    I have loved reading this…you make me laugh so much!
    I loved getting the postcard from Gambia…made my day!
    I don’t have alpacas but I can arrange goats…..perhaps not as they might eat your parents garden….
    I can and will however arrange for you to go alpaca walking when you are home….and I promise no flies!
    You have put me right off mangoes now xxx

    1. SherlyH

      Post author

      Thanks Val! Good to hear the postcard reached! You're right, not too sure about the goats! Fear not - we don't get mango flies in the UK:) X x

  2. Fiona Trimmer

    Amuse us why don’t you,
    Amuse us you do,
    All the activities are surely so true!
    Could it be real, real it must be.
    You are doing a great work in a far off country.
    Benefit they must, trust you, may be.
    But for all of us here, we are happy for thee.
    To do what you do, to share an insight.
    I certainly will pray, it is just a delight:)

  3. Francis John Kanu

    Hey Rachel,
    I can't imagine you are leaving Gambia so soon! *sobbing* :( wish you could stay longer because Gambia needs you and loves you and I know you love it too right? Cuz you find it so "hot".
    I wish I had found this blog earlier or yet still have gotten to know you but I am all smiles as I read on and realize you had a wonderful time here, not alone but with all the beautiful people, drama that was going on around you and not forgetting the computer you were using to write your wonderful and interesting posts.
    I am not done reading all your posts but I feel that this Beyonce fan (you) has "run the world" well not the world but Gambia :)
    Well looking forward to read a new post before you leave but for now I'll go read the others.


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