After my return from Europe and then the Gambia to Abene, I was a little travel weary so after a lazy breakfast settled into my morning hammock to catch up on some reading (Green Oranges on Lion Mountain, a book given to me by my publisher about a British doctor working in Sierra Leone). As I sipped on a coffee and flitted away the salt licking bees that have been free loading off of me for the past week, I heard a little commotion behind the bathroom. I looked up, heard Khady scream and by the time I arrived on the scene, Faceba the gardener had lopped a snakes head off. An hour later, the skin was stretched out on one of the pillars supporting the terrace above our kitchen. It was a puff adder – one of the more dangerous varieties – they won’t pursue you but won’t get out of your way either and will bite if you accidentally tread upon them.
We don’t get many snakes on our land – well, there was this one and another puff adder a couple of years ago. Then there was the skin shed by a python that I found not long after moving on to our land. And the green mamba in the kitchen. Oh, and the black cobra in the toilet. Mustn’t forget the unidentified blue and red striped serpent. Plus a few more. But apart from that, we don’t really get too many snakes.
I made a trip to Ziguinchor with my plumber to buy pipes and materials to connect the water tower to the bathrooms and taps. We’ve completed half the work and should finish next month. We had a few pipes safely tied on the roof and the police stopped us for overloading – this is a land where lorries regularly double their height with overloading. Grr.
What with the heat and Ramadan, it’s hard to work up the effort to do anything constructive. I’ve been clearing weeds from our land – the vegetation grows into a jungle in days with the rains – and after a few minutes, it literally looks as if I’ve wet myself. Gulliver’s behind me every step of the way, helping – he doesn’t seem to get hot.
This morning I undertook the arduous task of finding a location for a new hammock, hung it up and gave it a road test. I’m now swinging high up next to the termite mound overlooking the front gate – a good sunset viewing spot.
Also, it was korotie, the local name for the celebration at the end of Ramadan. It’s traditional to eat beef, but there was none to be seen in the market so I had a go at roast chicken, roast potatoes and vegetables which turned out not at all bad, considering I improvised on a fire. Then Gulliver and I went for a stroll to see crowds of kids all wearing their best dresses and bou-bou’s and asking for “serabu” (a gift, usually a coin – korotie is a trick or treat kind of scenario minus the trick). I had a pocketful of small change but soon got fed up of surly boys demanding serabu from me as if it was their right. The politer ones went away happy.
Aside from reptile fun, plumbing and hammock logistics, I’ve been acclimatising – it really is boily boily. It’s only in the early 30’s but humidity runs at around 95% – very uncomfortable for Khady in her late stages of pregnancy, but she’s hanging in there and is well.
So, it was amusing when I phoned my father on the morning of his 70th birthday: “I’m on top of the Matterhorn overlooking glaciers” he chuckled.