Gradually getting used to being here! Still find it hard to believe at times especially when I am walking down the streets! I am still a source of wonder to people who shout greetings to me which is very nice but does mean I have to keep smiling all the time! This can be a problem when I am sweat ing and my eyes are streaming! I have had a few problems with my eyes and one day they felt like they were burning so Sue kindly got a driver to take us to a pharmacy. It did bear some resemblance to Boots in that there were shelves of pills and medicines but the eye drops he prescribed were for eyes, ears and nose! Needless to say I didn’t use them. They gradually got better and I have to try very hard not to rub them. Apparently it is a common problem with VSOs as we are not used to so much dust and petrol fumes.
I have also been bitten where my feet must have stuck out of the mosquito net!
This week has been a bit quieter as there was a general strike on Wednesday so we couldn’t go to the office and were told not to go near government buildings. I did some lesson plan editing in the morning and went for a swim in the afternoon which was very nice. On Thursday there was an Output 3 meeting and I learned I am off to Abuja in two weeks for a meeting! I am also going to work with the SSIT team to try to identify some examples of good practice. I am looking forward to this as it will involve visiting schools which I really enjoy. We may visit some remote schools which will involve an overnight stay which could also be interesting and possibly challenge my bladder even more than the day visits!
Next week is Sala which is a two day Muslim holiday so not much work will be getting done although it will be a chance to catch up editing the lesson plans. I have just put out some washing and can now smell wood smoke! There are also several geckos playing chase up the wall by my undies!
Today is Sunday and I have just made banana bread which tastes okay if you don’t eat the black base-the oven only has one temperature-hot! We managed to return the kettle and came back with a larger one and a free bottle of bleach as it was cheaper than the first kettle. There are three supermarkets here if you want hassle free shopping at fixed prices-although yesterday the owner insisted in carrying the basket round for us! You take your shopping to a counter and a girl writes down everything you have bought and the prices which she then adds up with a calculator. You then have to pay another person who takes the money and gives you your change! Choice is quite limited but we get the rest from the street shops and hawkers. On Friday we had white sweet potatoes which we made into chips. Eggs are sold singly and quite cheap as are tomatoes, bananas and onions and we have even been able to get apples. I found a place near the office which sells my favourite doughnuts with the boiled egg inside. Often in the office someone will send round biscuits or fruit juice to celebrate an event. We got sweets on Friday which were nice. I bought a KITkat a few days ago but it wasn’t the same and was quite expensive.
We have not had much NEPPA because of the strike and my mobile modem is not working properly which is frustrating. However the house feel more like a home now. We are enjoying living with Jayne who has cooked some more great Kenyan meals. We have a good laugh together and often walk to work together too. Some people asked about our house. Well it is really a flat. There are two flats downstairs –us and a bank manager who has been to England- and upstairs Oosi and Ante and their children in one flat and the owner and his wife and nieces and nephews in the other. Benga is one of the nephews and often pops down for a chat. He is a big help when things like the tap go wrong and offered to charge my laptop during the strike. The other flats have their own generators which come on when NEPPA goes. This adds insult to injury as we then not only have no power but also have to listen to the din made by our neighbours generators!
So, to get to our house you have to go through the yard, where someone revs up a car about 6 every morning, and then through another gate, down the path and ours is the second door. Take your shoes off in our verandah area and enter our living room which has armchairs, settees and a table and carpet. You then go through to the dining area complete with fridge, food cupboard and blue plastic table and chairs. On the left is a dark corridor which leads to the bedrooms. Ours is the first on the right. It is a large room and now has two desks as well as a huge bed and wardrobe. A bathroom leads off which I have scrubbed furiously with bleach and hopefully convinced my gecko friend he would rather live outside. We have had a cockroach and a few maggots crawled out of the cabbage but that’s all so far-although I have seen a snake on my travels. Off the dining area is the kitchen with a sink and wooden unit that is coated in ant powder! There is also a cooker with a gas bottle and a stand for the water filter which we no longer use as the water tastes disgusting. There are some shelves and there is also a very dark pantry area with a door where we keep pots, pans, plastics and boxes. Outside the kitchen is another verandah area and outside there is a place to hang washing and apparently throw rubbish!
Yesterday we also went swimming again which was a welcome relief from the heat. After we had a lovely afternoon at Sue’s house playing with her gorgeous children and their little friend who is the daughter of a work colleague. Lea finally got to watch a football match so he was happy too. I had a lovely time drawing with the girls and then we played outside for a while. Probably why I am sunburnt now! We enjoyed the egg and chips too and the cake the girls had made.
It has also been a worrying time as Adam, my grandson has been ill and is in hospital with a form of meningitis. I feel so helpless but I believe he is on the mend now. I will not get my passport back for at least 4 more months as that is how long it takes to process a resident’s permit which is not a nice situation to be in. However I could get back home in an emergency if I needed to. If anyone is reading this and knows Lucy please tell her I have been thinking of her. It is Adam’s birthday on the 17th so hope he is able to celebrate it. I had a lovely video from him and Jake, Carrie and Aimee before he was ill. I miss them all so much so it is great to receive something like that even though it took 2 and a half hours to download as the internet speed is so slow here!
To end on a lighter note. Lea has to go on buses a lot and on Friday when he got out he realised there were two sheep under his seat! He also tried to close the door and then realised there wasn’t one! Another time the back door suddenly swung open and a huge wheelbarrow fell out. It just missed a Fulani tribesman who was then told he had to help the driver get the wheelbarrow back on the bus!
Finally a few things I miss-apart from my wonderful family and friends
· Dark chocolate
· Brillo pads
· Real milk
· A hoover
· The news
· Wholemeal bread
· My bed
· Traffic lights