Sunday, November 20, 2016

I LEFT PART OF MY HEART IN THE GAMBIA

Soon it is going to be one month since my arrival from Gambia and I still ask myself every day, what do all that I have met are doing at this very moment. All the while I am delaying the day when I will write this and today I said to myself, Veronika, now is the time. We always have a choice whether we do things in life with heart and soul and let ourselves go, leading us to all directions where we are intended to go, or based on different reasons, we view, visit and meet a new environment from a more touristic perspective. I knew that many things will change after one month, but I did not know yet that I would leave such a huge part of my heart there.


It all began many years before, when I was a little kid and my mother promised my sister Neja we will go to Africa one day, to the elephants and giraffes. This wish and this promise lead all of us to the point where one year ago my mother adopted a girl named Kumba who comes from Gambia. Not long after she bought the flight ticket, visited the family, spent two weeks with them and the rest of the extended family and after coming back, I was not sure what had happened. Happy, healed, smiling, optimistic, but a crying mother all over, who was standing with suitcases at the airport. She told me “This is not a different world, this is a different planet.” I understood the words but I did not understand the meaning as you, who reads this, do not understand it as well. It is hard to imagine life on the other side of the world, where they do not know hate, anger or unhappiness. That is why I know that to the majority of us girls, the shock was bigger coming back home rather than to get used to the Gambian life, for which I can only say it really is a different planet.
My mother Mojka with Kumba

Even just days before departure I did not have a clue what I was doing. I am not sure I was aware where I was going, what will change and that I will soon be in Africa, there, where it is always warm, the sun as well as the people. Together with my sister we were sitting on the suitcases in the apartment and told to ourselves »ow, you know that tomorrow at this time we will already be in Africa?« which was followed by silence and kind of a little smile, because we knew that one small wish came true.

With my sister Neja 
The purpose of our arrival was to teach the kids, in the school Mobeta, age 3 to 8, together with the local teachers. Even before the arrival we collected material and ideas, how to bring the kids closer to a certain school topic and through playing and singing get to know a new subject. The start of the school lessons was only in the second week after the arrival because of the Ramadan, which did not end yet. Therefore, we still had time to prepare, talk about the work and divide ourselves per classes. In that time we went to Barra and Banjul, we were getting to know the culture, we spent a lot of time with the locals and from day to day, I felt more and more at home and accepted.
In Barra village
I could not wait to meet, together with Neja, the little sister Kumba and on that day I really cried my heart out. With Musa, we were coming into the area of Dippakunda and when we were approaching the house, all three of us heard fast-talking of the children and repetition of the same words. Because they talked in the tribal language Wolof that I did not understand at that point, I asked Musa what they were saying. He laughed hard, touched my shoulder and said »they are all saying: sisters are here, they are here, they are here, sisters are heeree!« and in the moment when we opened the copper and broken doors of the yard, Kumba's sisters were all of a sudden around us, sister Mariama and the older Khaddiatou, the mother was hugging us but Kumba was nowhere to be found. In the moment when she ran into the house, she, all cried out, jumped on us and never left our sight. It was only the third day and I already knew that people here are capable of so much love that I do not know what are we doing in Slovenia and where we lost track.
With my sister Kumba
Every day we went to school at 8.40 so that we were in the class by 9h. Lara and I were in a class of kids, age 4 to 5, and with us there was a teacher Marie. I have to say that at times it was very hard most of all because the kids there are hyperactive and something always has to go on and they need to be motivated all the time. Concentration drops as quickly as the rain drops, but if you understand them, if you spend some time with them and you trust yourself, all of this becomes entirely acceptable. In the morning, we always repeated the numbers, alphabet, animals and English, after the lunch we sang, danced, played drums and learned Slovenian through song.


Lara had a flute with her and every time they heard her, they listened and were so impressed over this instrument that she always had it with her in her bag. Every time I mention the compassion that Gambian people have, also goes for the children. Many people who I have told this were not sure, if they should believe me. Every child received a lunch, but always when someone was still hungry, the other kid broke a piece and gave it to him. The same happened when I did not eat, because I was not hungry. A kid came to me with a piece of bread and offered it to me, because he thought I was hungry and I do not have any on my own. A child, who does not have enough for food at all times, who does not have all the conditions for life, offered me his lunch because he saw I do not have any.


It is easy to write from the memories that happened, but it is different to talk about them. When I talk to someone about Gambia I do not remember only the events but I remember the smiles and the feelings and sometimes tears and it creates a big lump in my throat and just stops there. I remember the kids who always ran behind our van when we were leaving, until they could not run anymore; I remember the kids in my class who waited every morning for us at the entrance doors for the moment when they will see us; I remember how I learn to cook Domoda and Benachin and also eat that, of course with my hands, which I was not really good at it; I remember how we drove in those funny vans where doors did never work and did not close; I remember the rainy days when all stay at home, because, if it is raining no one goes to school; and I remember how one girl said to me on my last day that we will see each other on Monday. It was hard but I told her that I live far far away and that I am leaving for home today and maybe she will already be older girl next time I see her again. But for her, far far away meant the neighboring village. She smiled and said, see you on Monday Mariama and went home smiling. For them far means walking 20 minutes and if I tried to explain to them that I have to fly one whole day with a plane, I think that would represent such a big problem for them to understand that I just left it at that.

That is why a whole month had to pass by so I could sit behind the computer and write this, and even this very shortly. I always ask myself when will I see them again and when will we dance again, drum, play soccer on the street and when will I eat mango from the tree again.


-   - Veronika Žorž

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

SUMMER SCHOOL 2016 COMPLETED

We created a program called Travel as a volunteer to The Gambia, which enables volunteering, visiting and experiencing the real Gambia without strict conditions, specific education, experience and time limits. It’s our belief that anyone, who would like to spend some time with children and meet friendly locals, deserves this opportunity. There are many people, who spend their whole lives dreaming about volunteering in Africa and we are here to help make these dreams come true.


The International Summer School has been organized for the third year now by humanitarian organization Charity Pearl the Gambia, founded by Musa Faal from Barra and took place at Mobe-ta Primary & Nursery School from 4. 7. 2016 until 29. 7. 2016. The activities and the program were prepared by educators in collaboration with other participants of the international summer school camp 2016. It was open to all children up to the age of 12 years from the Dippa Kunda area. The school camp was free of charge for all children, and each child received a meal and juice every day.

We wanted children to gain knowledge that will help them in their future and education. We wanted them to upgrade their English language skills, to be creative, to get musical education and do sports activities. Everything was done under professional supervision of local teachers and in a creative environment, in small groups and through playing.

We hosted 14 volunteers from Slovenia. Slovenia is a small country in Europe surrounded by Austria, Italy, Hungry and Croatia. There was also a Finnish volunteer, who is currently living in Spain, with her 2 children and a volunteer from Thailand.
2 Slovenian volunteers got the opportunity to work at Africmed clinical laboratory. Africmed Clinical Services provides a comprehensive one-stop full medical examination using modern equipment and attend all emergency cases, including occasional home visits and provide overseas referrals. Special thanks goes to Dr. Omar Jagne, CEO Africmed Clinical Services.
All Gambians welcomed our volunteers with open hearts. Now, they have become part of our big family in The Gambia.

At this point we would like to thank to the government for creating the enabling environment needed for successful and productive projects presently and in the future.
All volunteers have been raising funds before the departure so they could offer free meals to all the children participating in the summer school camp. The response of people in Europe was very positive so they raised much more than expected. In addition to a free meal every day and juice for all participants, all the teachers received a financial reward. Kids were also taken to educational school excursions at My Farm in the Nema Kunku area, which is part of Africa Startup Project from seed to business.

In Slovenia, there was also a charity campaign going on for collecting school materials needed for activities at summer school camp. Children, parents & educational institutions supported the idea. There were new collaborative projects born so Gambian schools will stay connected to pupils from Slovenia and other European countries.
Schools, companies and individuals were also collecting toothbrushes and toothpastes. Volunteers shared them among children in the school and at remote villages.
In Barra, they distributed GMD 56.800 to 71 needy families, on the day of Eid. The team was part of the Eid celebration, which was an amazing experience for all volunteers and inhabitants of Barra village as well. This was the day when they first tasted local traditional food and of course they loved it. They also gave out many school materials, lollipops and balls to children. At the end of the day, volunteers surprised the local Falcon football academy, founded by Amet Faal from Barra, with jerseys donated by Slovenian company Navim. The company’s owner, Mojka Budihna, is also sponsoring a female child in The Gambia and is a regular visitor to this country.


During holidays and on the weekends they were exploring The Gambia. They visited many places. When they decided to discover the Central River Region, their first stop was at Nyemtempo village, where they spent some time with children and people of this amazing village. They have also given out donations of GMD 15.000 to 36 families, who just couldn’t believe their eyes. They were very thankful. They also received toothbrushes, toothpastes, school materials and sweets. After visiting Nyemtempo, they continued their way to Tendaba camp, Wassu Stone Circle and stayed overnight at Bintang Bolong lounge. They went for a river trip to admire hippos in their natural environment, baboons, birds, etc and of course beautiful nature.

They also visited Fathala Nature Reserve in Senegal and spent some quality time at historical villages Albreda & Juffureh. First they went to Kunta Kinteh island by boat, where they visited the museum and had a traditional lunch at the local restaurant. In the afternoon they visited the Jabang family and gave out GMD 30.000 to needy families of Albreda, some school materials and sweets. People were surprised, thankful and so happy. The team also surprised the Albreda local football youth club with jerseys donated by Slovenian football club Nova Gorica.

The day before they left, they visited an orphanage and bought GMD 10.000 worth of food. The rest of the money, which was GMD 17.000, was donated for school fees for children coming from needy families.


Our volunteering program is designed to combine all the goodness of The Gambia with the meaningful experiences people can gain while volunteering here. The Gambia’s unique charm lies in its smallness. It has many attractions just a short distance away and therefore it is becoming one of the most famous destinations in the world.  A combination of volunteering, adventure, relaxation and wildlife makes everyone’s holidays in The Gambia unique and magical.


Following that mission, we encourage volunteers to visit and discover this beautiful country in West Africa. They were sightseeing at Banjul, visited Arch 22 built to celebrate the military coup of 22 July 1994, learned about history at the museum, shopped at Albert Market and enjoyed the crowds on the streets. They visited popular tourist spots like Katchikally Crocodile Pool at Bakau, Makasutu Cultural Forest, Lamin lodge, Tanji fishing village, Sanyang beach, Tunbung Art village at Tujereng founded by great Gambian artist, late Etu Ndow, historical villages Albreda/Juffureh, Kunta Kinteh island with museum, Janjabureh, Wassu Stone Circle, Central River Region, Fathala at Senegal, etc.

Their presence alone had a very positive impact on the lives of the local people. By visiting the country, they had an indirect influence on daily earnings of taxi/bus drivers, bakers, fruit saleswomen, owners of a juice stand at the beach, staff on the local boats, salesmen at the craft market & local market, guides at tourist attractions, tailors, salesmen at local shops, etc. By paying entrance fees for different historical and other popular tourist sites, attending traditional Gambian music concerts and ceremonies, they supported local activities.
Many volunteers, after seeing and meeting the families, have also decided to sponsor a child in The Gambia. The idea of the ‘Travel as a Volunteer to The Gambia’ program was developed from the charity project ‘Sponsor a child’, which was started by a humanitarian organization, Charity Pearl The Gambia, in 2011. Four years later there are over 200 children sponsored by people from all over the world.  Its aim was to invite the sponsors to visit and get to know the children and families they are helping in The Gambia.
Some volunteers were already included in our “Sponsor a child in The Gambia” before so now they got to know the kids they were helping, saw where they live and met all the family members. They brought gifts for them, bought food and other necessities like clothes and shoes for children.


Travel as a Volunteer to The Gambia is changing lives, not only among Gambian communities, but also to foreigners that are coming to the country as volunteers.
If we say thank you in the name of people who received help and also us who are trying to make some changes, is not enough. But we know that our prayers are strong enough so all the good work of volunteers will be rewarded.
We are already looking forward to our fourth International Summer School Camp The Gambia 2017, which will take place in July. Our wish and our plans are also to build an Educational and volunteering center in The Gambia in the future.
Help us to distribute a positive message around the world and invite everyone to travel as a volunteer to The Gambia, The Smiling coast of Africa.
Thank you and we are waiting for you in The Gambia!
For more information about SUMMER CAMP 2017, please contact us!
Charity Pearl The Gambia
info@kidsaretheworld.com
www.travelasvolunteer.com
www.facebook.com/travelingandvolunteering


















Sunday, August 9, 2015

WHAT TYPE OF TRAVELER ARE YOU?


What type of traveler are you? What kind of travel destination are you looking for your next holidays?

Travelling is a part of the life for many people around the world. People travel for many different reasons; business & work, sport, fun, hobby, study, charity, family, etc. But lots of people simply want to meet people & know different cultures & countries around the world. 

Tourism is an important way of income for most of the countries in the world, but there are also bad influences brought by mass tourism. 

Today we want to find out what kind of traveler you are and what kind of travel destination you are looking for? Do you think Gambia is offering what you are looking for? 

Holidaymaker
You love to spend your holiday in a hotel, resort or lodge using their room service, offered activities, spa & beauty services, massage and the whole range of other hotel services

There is a fantastic selection of hotels in The Gambia to accommodate your style and budget. Whether you’re looking for stylish, boutique hotel, beachfront hotel, luxury hotel and lodge or family friendly hotel, you will certainly find something to suit your taste.
Most of the hotels are located west of Banjul and Serekunda, and have been sympathetic to the environment. The Gambia doesn’t have any towering concrete monstrosities; even the largest hotels are well-landscaped, with tropical trees and flowering shrubs.

Backpacker and adventurous traveler 
You don’t just want to visit a country - you want to experience it. And you want to experience everything. You like to fully immerse yourself and learn the local lingo.


In the Gambia we offer an unique way of experiencing the country, its nature, people, animals, villages, daily life of local people. Spending your vacation with locals is a guarantee for an intensive experience. You will see towns and villages that no travel agency travels to, taste local food and experience local customs, you will save money, experience public transport and much more. Attending local music festivals will make your journey even more magical.  

Volunteer
Your wish is to travel and really do something useful with your time at the destination. you are looking for an outstanding and unique experience and you want to give back to local community.

A small, beautiful Western African country, The Gambia, is offering unforgettable volunteering opportunities, whether you are traveling alone, with your partner or a family. Our aim is to give a hand to local schools and help to improve the quality of education for kids in The Gambia. With volunteers from around the world we want to exchange the knowledge, skills and experiences and pass it to the children in The Gambia. The program also aims to create opportunities for cultural exchange, both within the classroom and within Gambian communities.

Honeymooner
Honeymoon is one the most exciting times in your life. You have a lot of choice to make when it comes to planning your honeymoon. More and more honeymooners are looking for something new, something completely different, an added value to traditional selection.

The Gambia is an outstanding honeymoon destination. Nowhere else in the world can you experience such an unforgettable experience as in West Africa. It is an amazing start of a life together for newlyweds and it is a great opportunity to strengthen partnership, experience the world beyond the borders of holiday resorts and learn about the destination through local residents with their stories of life in the country.
After experiencing a real Africa, you can relax on white sandy beaches, sip drinks on a chair under a palm tree and look at the crystal blue sea in breathtaking Cape Verde. A combination of adventure, relaxation and romance will make your honeymoon in Africa unique and magical.

Family holidays
You like the sun and your family as well. Add sea and sand to that and you are happy. Destination offering different hotel and outside activities is a perfect solution

The Gambia is an appropriate place for a family vacation and experiencing diversity together. The children will enjoy playing on the long sandy beaches, splashing around in the pool and the activities organized for them by the hotels. If you decide to spend your vacation beyond the tourist strip, you have plenty of socializing with the locals, making new friends, having fun and learning for the while family ahead of you. Animals, people, music, cuisine and exploring the culture are the right guarantee for an unforgettable family trip.

Animal and nature lover
You don't want to spend a lot of money for accommodation and you are not interested in history and museums but when it comes to animals and nature, you are so ready for the experience!

The Gambia has fascinating flora and wildlife; vibrant ecosystems, varied landscapes and many different animal species. From savannas to mangroves, beaches to cities, bushes to villages. There are no “Big 5″ in The Gambia, but there are over 500 bird species and many other animals to be spotted, which makes it a heavenly destination for animal lovers.  Animal and bird-life is extremely diverse and exotic. Wildlife of the Gambia is dictated by several habitat zones over its total land area of about 10,000 square kilometers
. Birds, monkeys, chimpanzees, baboons, crocodiles, snakes, hippos, tropical fish, antelopes, zebras, rhinos, giraffes and much more is waiting for you in The Gambia and Senegal wildlife reserves.

Elderly traveler
You like to spend your long winter holidays in destination with warm weather, beautiful nature & wildlife, financially accessible and peaceful & quiet destination away from mass tourism.

The Gambia is a perfect winter holiday destination for retirees who want to escape from cold winter weather in Europe. Africa offers a warm sun all year round, peaceful hotels & lodges and reasonable prices. Today, more and more retirees are looking for meaningful holidays. Visiting new places, socializing with locals, tasting the local cuisine, bird watching and dancing the rhythms of local music are just some of the activities Gambia offers. Friendly people of Gambia will always take a good care of you and you will never feel you are alone In Africa. Hospitality and being respectful towards elderly people are values that Gambians are born with.


Sports traveler
You are someone who heads off on holidays to go cycling, sport fishing, hiking, meet other groups to play football, or head off with friends to play golf.

Experiencing the world beyond the borders of holiday resorts and learning about the destination through local places and residents with their stories of life, will make your holidays in The Gambia unforgettable. There is no better way to feel the heartbeat of a country than through cycling trips. You’ll come across animals and hidden villages, meet village’s chefs, spend time in the nature and have the finest look in the daily life of locals.
The growing popularity for recreational fishing since the early 1990’s, has now made The Gambia one of the most sought after fishing holidays destinations in the world, offering an extensive variety of fish species and fishing activities in different places.


The scholar
You like to travel to gain a greater knowledge about culture, history, architecture and local cuisine. Your journey starts before leaving home. You read the books and websites to get background information about your journey. 

Cultural heritage in Gambia is very ethnically diverse, and offers many unique experiences for visitors. Among the attractions are performances and the arts – dance and music are highly developed and very important. Gambia does not disappoint in its cuisine with its diverse and interesting food. Lastly, Gambia is full of historical buildings, monuments and archaeological sites, most of which were confirmed by UNESCO.
Every two years, there in big international Roots Festival organized in The Gambia.  holds in an international reunion. Most of the people attending the festival share something in common; purest love for their motherland, dearest Africa and the heritage which goes back to the days of slavery.


And, what kind of traveler are you? Did you recognized yourself in one of the traveler type? Or perhaps you have a little bit of all of them in you?

Now that you also know something about The Gambia,  it is a perfect time to think about when you want to visit the smiling coast. 



For more information visit our website www.treasuresofwestafrica.com. 

Monday, June 29, 2015

THE MULTI-USABLE CALABASH

The calabash or a gourd, locally known as lekket, is a tropical plant that usually grows in tropical and subtropical areas of the world. There are two different kinds. One is a tree and its fruits can be used as vegetables, when they are harvested early. The other one is growing in the soil and it is harvested, when it’s mature, then it’s dried, and used for different purposes. People don’t consume it. They grow in a variety of shapes. Some get really big! The round ones, formed like a watermelon or a pumpkin, are used to make utensils, water and food containers, bowls and also instruments. The small ones are also used as a wall decoration nowadays.

When the fruit is mature, they usually divide it into two parts, take out the meat of the fruit and dry it. Some use a sharp and hot iron to design the outer layer. A decorated calabash has additional value. It has been considered as a worthy present during marriage, a valuable equipment to start daughters off in their new social role. In some tribes they use it as head covers with added beads around the edge of the calabash for newlyweds or other traditional ceremonies.
In the history and also nowadays the calabash basically fullfills many practical functions in the day-to-day activities of the Gambian people. As there are different sizes and shapes it can be used for serving food, milking cattle, as a spoon, as a food container and as well as carrier vessels. In the old days, there were no bowls and other household equipment, therefore they only used the calabash in different sizes and shapes. It was very practical for carying vegetables from farms, to make porridge or cherreh (millet), for washing rice, to drink milk from it and as a tool in the daily women’s trade at the local markets.
The calabash played an important role in the Gambian culture used by all tribes with respect, love and honour. In some tribes it is a blessing and privilege if you are offered to drink cow milk from a calabash. Not everyone gets such an opportunity. Some believe it has some extraordinary spiritual magic power.
Beach musicians; photo: Jana Snuderl  
As per traditional music and instruments in The Gambia, the calabash was used to make different instruments and sounds. The kora instrument, a harp built from a large calabash cut in half covered with cow or goat skin and two handles. Strings were traditionally made from thin strips of hide, for example antelope skin – now most strings are made from harp strings or nylon fishing line, sometimes plaited together to create thicker strings. Kora players have traditionally come from griot families (Mandinka tribe) who are traditional historians and storytellers passing their skills on to their descendants. A traditional kora player is called a Jali.
To hear some good sounds of kora playing, click on the link below and listen to a beautiful song by griot Sheriff Saihou Kanuteh
Griot Sheriff Saihou Kanuteh, photo: Jana Snuerl
Read more www.treasuresofwestafrica.com

Thursday, June 25, 2015

KOLA NUT - AN IMPORTANT SYMBOL

Giving and receiving kola nuts is a traditional exchange of friendship and respect. The nut of a kola tree plays an important role in the social and culture life in The Gambia and Senegal. A caffeine-containing nut of evergreen trees of the genus cola, most common in Western Africa and the Atlantic coast area of Central Africa, are highly valued for its qualities. Kola tree is reaching up to 20 meters in height with leaves up to 30 cm in length.
Kola nuts are consumed by breaking them open and into pieces, then chewing the kola nut pieces as one chews gum. Sometimes a knife is needed to cut the nut into pieces. The stimulative effect is similar to a strong cup of coffee.
Besides the fact that Kola nuts contain caffeine and act as a stimulant and anti-depressant, they are also thought to reduce fatigue and hunger, aid digestion, and work as an aphrodisiac and have healing properties. The pods are also used to ease labor pains; seeds to relieve diarrhea. The roots are used as a chewing stick to clean teeth and freshen breath.
Kola nuts are very important during certain social occasions such as naming ceremonies, funerals, wedding ceremonies, and other important traditional events. It is also commonly used when asking someone’s forgiveness and to unite families and groups in society. Its vitality elsewhere can be also used as a valuable gift to show respect and could be exchanged as a ritual gift. Some also use it for charitable purposes, rituals performed by religious healers, while others use it as food.
If you are visiting a village, a little bundle of nuts makes a good present to offer the Alkalo, or the village chief, when you first meet him.
In wedding ceremonies, kola nuts serve as an evidence in tying both parties together. Kola nuts are often given by a groom to the parents of the bride. They usually share them amongst the attendants after usual prayers and some counseling remarks.
Kola nuts are also given as a gesture of friendship and hospitality in some parts of Africa. So do not be surprised if you will receive a gift, when visiting someone’s home.
Kola nuts are sold at any local market, different corner shops and street vendors in small and large quantities. The fruits of the kola trees have different colors; pink, white, yellow, beige and red. The first taste is bitter, but sweetens upon chewing. The price is negotiable, but you should know that each nut is priced according to its size.
A traveler with a kola nut will often offer a piece to the others nearby, whether he knows them or not.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

DOMODA FOR MY LUNCH

When visiting The Gambia, you must try food that is offered on the streets. Not everywhere, but we will advice you where to buy it. We believe getting to know a country through its food can bring you more close to people and their culture. We would recommend everyone visiting The Gambia for the first time to try at least one or two traditional dishes.
My favorite Gambian meal is Domoda! 
Domoda is a delicious groundnut stew mixed with spices and vegetables or meat (also beef, chicken, fish). It is very famous food in The Gambia and Senegal. If they prepare it less spicy, it is also number one choice for many visitors of The Gambia.
Ingredients (lunch for 4 people)
2 onions, 4 hot peppers, tomato paste, 4 fresh tomatoes, peanut paste or butter, chicken or beef or fish, salt, black pepper, garlic, mixed seasoning, vinegar, rice
Cut chicken in pieces and season it with salt, mixed seasoning, black pepper and vinegar. Then put it in the cooking pot and add enough water to cover the chicken. Then blend onions, pepper, fresh tomato and add it into the cooking pot. Let it boil for 20 min and add the peanut paste and some water. Leave it boiling on low fire for 10 min and add tomato paste. The dish is ready, when the sauce is thick. While cooking the rice, leave the pot with the sauce half covered.
If you decide to have beef domoda, than you need to boil the meat first and continue to follow the recipe. If you want to have it with fish, you need to steam the fish together with blended onion, pepper, fresh tomato and lemon. After 10 min take the fish out and follow the recipe. When the meal is served, you add the fish on the top or on the side.
Try it at home. You will love it! 


Friday, June 5, 2015

Being able to appreciate the small good things in life

Saturday morning. Sunrise a couple of minutes before 7am. Everything is still asleep.

This is day 6 of introducing drinking black coffee. I've cut out sugar years ago. When I quit smoking, I didn't drink coffee for a while, because even coffee wasn't coffee without a cigarette. Eventually I learned to drink coffee with milk without a cigarette. And now I've read somewhere, how harmful coffee with added milk is and bla bla bla, so I've decided to torture myself a little again. I cut out milk and I start thinking about quitting coffee, because without milk, it's hardly desirable. But still, the heart in coffee, sunrise, birds singing and fresh ocean breeze promise that today is definitely going to be a good day. You can already feel it in the morning.


The neighbour's donkey disturbs the silence with its ia ia ia. Right after that a rooster announces the beginning of the day in Africa. The neighbour's donkey rocks otherwise. He is really annoyed by birds, which he keeps chasing, he enjoys kissing the horse and he keeps making noises. Both, the horse and the donkey, belong to this one Austrian woman, who has been living here for a number of years and works for a Gambian animal rescue NGO. This donkey used to have long „conversations“ with the neghbour's donkey. First you would hear ia ia ia from one side and then again from the other side. I'm no sure what they talked about for such a long time. Now this „other“ donkey is not near us anymore.


I check the fruit on the mango tree growing in „our“ small garden from the balcony. They're growing, they're growing. I can't wait for the mango season to begin. This is the season you can all envy me. 

When I first tasted mango, it was in Egypt. If there was a declaration for mango, it would say: The consequence of unlimited consumption is an incurable addiction. Roll up your sleeves, while you're eating, because the stains of juice running down your elbows are difficult to remove. Be near a toilet after consumption, because mango strongly aids better digestion. Losing weight with mango is 100% guaranteed. 

I remember, when I first came to my home country for holidays and bought mango at one of the stores. It wasn't at all similar to the fruit called mango! But it's not their fault.

When my mother bought fruit for my husband last year, also bananas among others, his statement was completely on point. This isn't even B from banana. He would rather enjoy apples, although I think even they aren't those real apples I have in my memory. 

I first found it odd, why all bananas in Gambia rot after two days. Well, of course they rot! The fruit in Gambia is full of sunshine, no chemicals, completely natural and when they cut off the bananas or the fruit falls off the tree, you have to eat it. If you don't, it rots, like any other natural thing. 


You already know, we have
  lot in common with monkeys. Well, our common passion is also fruit. It's incredible the things monkeys do, when mangoes are ripe. I think we have more monkeys in front of our house, than there are pigeons in Venice. A fierce battle for fruit ensues among us. The monkeys win, because they are, well, monkeys and they jump from tree to tree and steal the fruit or help themselves to it. The only way to actually get a papaya, banana or mango is to protect the trees or remove it right before its ripe. They don't like unripe fruit. All in all, we all enjoy mango season, the humans and the monkeys. There is enough for everyone.
 

The view of the street from the balcony is empty. It's going to stay this way at least until 1 pm. Today is the national environmental cleaning action. In the Gambia, Operation Clean the Nation, is locally known as Set Settal or Setal. The action or the program is aimed towards solving the waste problem. It takes place on certain Saturdays, when most companies and all schools across the country are closed. 

The traffic is closed for all vehicles, personal and public transport alike. The military controls the roads during this time. In cases of emergency or other extraordinary circumstances, it's possible to obtain permission from the police to use the road during this time.

The action usually takes place every last Saturday of the month. It begins at 9am and lasts until 1pm. The date is normally announced on the radio, on TV and over text messages. All companies and stores are closed during this time, the roads are empty, so the garbage trucks have space for cleaning and taking away waste.

I've arranged to visit two families in the afternoon, but they informed me that one girl isn't going to be home, so I rescheduled for Sunday. My friend Amie also called me and invited me to the ceremony taking place on Sunday afternoon. When? “We are going to start around 5pm”, she answered. OK, no problem. I'll come! I told to teh taxi driver to pick me up at 6.30pm. I believe I'll be there just in the time for the ceremony to begin.

When I came back from the ceremony t
here was no light cause there was a small problem in the room, where the generator is housed. The matter was resolved quickly, because the fire was small. So my husband and I enjoyed a romantic evening in candlelight. I cooked an excellent dinner for us and he put on some Gambian music on his phone. Life is good. There is something positive in every negative thing, you just have to be able to see it. These moments of happiness enrich our lives. 

I'm grateful for every moment I spend in Africa. Even when we're in the dark, life is simply perfect.