'Hoping' mad I didn't make it to Senegal

The past week has been frustrating to say the least. Last Tuesday, whilst scoring a try at rugby (had to get that in!), I managed to land badly on my foot and have torn a tendon in my ankle. It’s far less sore now but did mean that I was forced to take 3 days rest in the flat and cancel my planned trip to Dakar. (Will do the trip later in the year though….) Rest would have been easier if the power had been on but after 2 days of being stuck in a room with no electricity (and therefore no fan or DVDs on my laptop) I was feeling a little fed up. Day 3 was slightly better as power was on and I managed to watch about 4 films back to back!

When in Rome and all that, in addition to seeing the British High Commission nurse (who was great, as always), I went to see a traditional healer. In the Gambia it is believed that people who give birth to twins have particular qualities to make healers and so I went to my neighbour (who has twins Adama and Auwa). She doesn’t speak English so my ‘brother’ (someone in the same family compound as me) came as a translator. She sat me on the floor and made me take the bandage off, the ankle was really swollen and puffy. Having stroked it twice she simply stood on my ankle with some force. The pain was incredible and I screamed out loud! Unpeturbed by my reaction, she continued to massage my ankle with her foot and then put some local cream on it and sent me on my way. I have to say that despite the fact it really was agony for a few minutes it seems to have done the trick and it is much better now. Most of the other westerners I have told about the visit think I was totally insane to go and see her in the first place (especially the doctors) but no harm seems to have been done!

The Floating Lodges
On Friday, a friend of ours, Paul, called as he heard we had postponed the Senegal trip. He asked if we were still up for going somewhere if closer by so he could drive. I, of course, was delighted with the suggestion. He managed to get a group of us a really good deal to stay at Makasutu http://www.makasutu.com/) for that weekend. So 8 of us went up Saturday night and stayed for most of the day on Sunday. The place itself is incredible and Jodie, Marney and I shared a room on stilts over the river. We had an open air hot shower so that you literally shower outdoors among the trees but with modern comforts (ie hot water and nice fluffy towels).

The swimming pool was beautiful. I kind of freeform pool set around an exotic tree (cant remember the name). The trees and the birds that visit it (village weavers) are so lovely the owners did not want to move it so they just worked the pool around it. Looking up you could see lots of the nests. The male village weaver birds are the ones that build the nests and the female birds pick there partner based on the quality of nest/home provided. Any nests that are not up to scratch she simply cuts down and therefore all the work the male has put in is wasted! I guess that kind of incentive means that those males tend to get the job done well first time around…Perhaps a lessons for us!?

See the giant snail, great dinner guest.

Food and drink were also lovely at Makasutu (if expensive and a bit salty). We felt incredibly treated overall. The trip was a little spoiled by the fact it poured with rain all Sunday so our dug-out canoe bird watching trip had to be cancelled but it really is an incredibly place that has to be visited whilst here (if budget allows!)

Days here continue to pass more and more quickly (I guess as I’m getting settled) and I have lots to do before my trip home in 9 days, can’t wait to see you all x………….. When I get back the new volunteers arrive and we wont be the newbies anymore. Hard to believe we have been here for almost 6 months!


The stiled Lodge at Makasutu. Showering outdoors was one of the nicest things about it.
1st picture shows the outside area where we are able to watch the sunset, stars, have a few drinks and play music (to upset the other guests!)


Soft focus at dinner happy with the wine!
Larking by the pool (Will, Stewart and Jackie)
Camera shy swimmer
Paul at dinner