So, I made it back from Gambia safe and sound (although the week is yet young so there’s still plenty of time for a visit to the Hospital for Tropical Diseases). Sorry for the radio silence. Being home is every bit just as unpredictable and weird as everything else this year has been. Sorry to anyone who asked me “How was Gambia?” to which I responded “Yeh, it was really hot” when you were actually hoping for something a little more insightful than general weather conditions.
But really, Gambia was hot. It was good though. It was tough, it was hot but it was good. As ever, God is good all the time. All the time, God is good.
I learned that God gives us the shoes we need to walk the journey we're on - whether you're barefoot and fancy free because life is a beach, running in lightup trainers because sometimes you just gotta do what you gotta do or whether you need steel toe capped boots to stomp on all the things trying to cut you up. Whenever I wondered if I had enough courage or niceness to get through the next minute/hour/day it was supplied. Didn't mean it was easy, but it was manageable.
I also learned not to sweat the details. Given that pretty much anything I tried to plan in Gambia didn’t work out I’ve started to hold plans very very very loosely. Par exemple: 1. i planned to eat ice cream – but the kitchen got covered in bugs, barring access to the freezer; 2. I planned a quiet night in – but torrential rain meant that friends had to stay the night and I suddenly found myself cooking dinner for five; 3. I got some cultural appropriate clothes made at the tailors – but at first they were way way too big, and then so so small MY HOUSEMATE HAD TO CUT ME OUT OF THE DRESS WITH A KNIFE. Do not ask me to plan or organise anything. It is simply beyond my capabilities. I have seen and tasted that an unplanned and organised life can be good. I am now the Queen of Last Minute and Spontaneous. I have transcended your earthly need to schedule and arrange. I set my planner aflame and danced upon its ashes whilst singing songs of freedom and victory. Apols for not replying promptly to any texts, snail mail letters or smoke signals.
I am so so happy to be home. And yet a solid part of my heart is planted in Gambia with friends sitting under a mango tree in the middle of the nowhere, with brightly coloured birds flitting all around and the sun slowly setting (obvs, my rose tinted glasses totally ignores the fact that this would be prime mosquito time).
Not gonna lie, my surprise welcome home party was nothing to Insta about – mostly because it hasn’t actually happened. The organising committee are taking this surprise thing a bit far. In fact, I'm looking for new committee members, any volunteers?
Much of the past few weeks has been spent staring at my clothes trying to remember how to wear them – apols if you’ve had to be seen with me in public and I’ve either been grossly underdressed (pjs) or overdressed (ballgown). I’m still trying to reclaim my former forward fashunn-function style sweet spot. Four weeks home and it remains ever elusive. So for now, pjs abound. Sorry not sorry.
Home has also been relearning how to cross roads safely (traffic here is less fluid), marvelling at all the drinkable tap water, wondering why the house isn’t clean and then remembering there’s no lady who comes to do the cleaning for me, trying to even out ridiculous tan lines, and not being scared of all the creepy crawlies that I would formerly have been convinced are trying to kill me.
So what’s next? Yeh, let me get back to you on that one, planning isn’t really my thing right now. So for now, back to a life of funemployment.
All that's left to say is THANK YOU - THANK YOU - THANK YOU. Thank you so so much for all your support. You have no idea how much your messages helped carry me through the rough days. If I could choose to have anyone on my team, it’s definitely you lot.