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 there 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.