A few FAQs for ya:
What’s the weather like? Its HOT. As in, 30something°C every single day by 10.30am. And before you say you’d happily trade – this is the kinda hot where just breathing makes you sweat, you have to wear contact lenses because the heat just makes your glasses slide down your face and underboob sweat is ruining all your bras. Bonus to the heat though, if you manage to spill something all over you it dries in about 10 minutes – not that this happened to me or anything.
Where do you live? WELCOME TO MY CRIB Y’ALL!
I know, its huge. It used to be the nurse training school building before being converted into volunteer housing. As the only volunteer here right now one of the office staff moved in to keep me company and ensure I don’t get murdered in the night. Meet Emily:
She persuades me to go cycling at 7am on a Saturday, asks me "What about the pink skirt?" when my clothes aren't nice enough for church and thinks I should marry her brother. I’m teaching her how to cook with an oven.
What do you eat? Whatever I want (more or less) - I do my own cooking. Although there ain’t any Lil' Waitrose out here in Sibanor – just a few small local stores crammed with all sorts of household items. So I’ve been doing my foodshop (read, stocking up on digestives) in the city and schlepping it back to Sibanor. Which has led to some pretty interesting combinations when I've run out of my good food - sweet ‘n’ sour tuna and cabbage stir fry anyone? (I’m not a sweet and sour fan. Nor much of a tuna fan. Or cabbage for that matter). I am having fun trying Gambian food though. Top of the list so far: domodah (peanut sauce with meat/fish, veg and rice) benachin (like jollof rice but with peanut instead of tomato).
What is Sibanor like? Sibanor is a small rural town of about 5,000 people and exactly three toubabs (white foreigners). It has a market mostly selling vegetables, a couple of mosques, a pre-school, a few general stores, a few tailors, a church, a school (and football pitch), a health centre (obvs) and not much else. Many homes don’t have electricity or running water.
What are the people like? For the most part, friendly. Greeting each other is big part of culture here - Peace be with you, good morning/afternoon/evening, is there peace with you, how is the morning/afternoon/evening, how is your wife/husband, how are your children... I am slowly slowly learning the greetings in a couple of the local languages. Kids just love me, or atleast they just love to herald my presence by screaming "TOUBAB TOUBAB TOUBAB!" at me wherever I go. I'm not one to boast but I'm pretty famous now - I don't/can't go anywhere in Sibanor unnoticed.
What do you do all day? Sit at my desk and try not to melt/research potential funders/write applications/other office type things. The evenings are a mixture of reading, cooking, washing clothes, visiting people and going to bed at 9pm. Though yesterday a few of us went swimming in a river. May or may not have spent much of the past 24 hours convinced I'm now riddled with river parasites and worms.
This Sibanor life is a joy. It is a struggle. God is good, all the time. All the time, God is good.
Got any other questions for me?