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November 24th, 2009


10:51 am - hello old friend
Gosh, I have been AWOL, haven't I?

I guess the first thing to write is that I haven't got leprosy (which is where I dropped the story, er, 3 YEARS ago)! It turned out to be nothing more exotic than a failed thyroid - now on daily thyroxine tabs everything is fine. My typing fingers didn't fall off afterall, I just got distracted by the UK rat race.

Ironically though, now I've broken my foot...& its the 6 weeks off work that brought me back to LJ. What better oportunity to go back and fill in the blanks of EO, typing up my paper diary before it disintergrates.

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September 21st, 2005


10:28 pm - pressing play again
hey guys. I'm finally just about sorted. the computer is set up (and i got a shiny new laptop soon to be broadbanded *claps*)

so I should start writing the million things in my head and the dozen things in my paper diary.

Coming soon to Essentialsonly: Gambia & mali - yes, yes, I am still intending to finish that! Some of the re-adjustment stuff will be here to. I have had a lot to think about.

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July 29th, 2005


09:22 pm - time vortex
good lord, where did the last two weeks go?

i have only seen about 6 of the 28 people on my hit list. I have bought about 3 of the items on my shopping list. I have not found a flat, written up my lj back-posts, been to the cinema, or been to the dentist.

i have come down with flu though :(
felled by your english germs, damn you.

i've been surprised by my lack of culture-shock. Apart from getting lost in clapham junction, and looking rather shell-shocked (ok, someone called it terrified) at Red Eye. No freak outs in Tescos. No problem with luxuriating. No tutting at the selfishness of western greed.
if anything i am feeling a little guilty about how easily i have swiched back. Bad VSO!
mark you i've hardly left the house.

The only real difference is my inability to time-manage and get organised. how very gambian! I just need to surender descision-making. So just tell me when you want to see me. I cant schedule by myself.

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July 23rd, 2005


01:23 pm - the same, but different
alive and well and living in croyden....who'da thought it!

slowly surfacing and getting organised. ok, the getting organised bit is a fib, but i have got a new mobile number - 07723031175 - and am over the novelty of dependable light switches *g*.

planning a bunch of back-posting when i get my head together. also planning to leave the house soon.
very happy.

available for catching-up, gossip, cultural-events, and general entertainment for the next 6 weeks. contribute to my social-rehabilitation programme.

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July 11th, 2005


04:08 pm - 7 days
this time next week i will be in london.

wow.

i just picked up my plane tickets. arrive seven-o'clock-in-the-bloody-morning thanks very much vso!

insanely busy. STILL havent finished the project. various social shenanigans and minidramas and fondfarewells. very busy head.

internet has been down. cant get my email. havent had a chance to check anyone else journal [really really sorry if anyone has has anything happen i sould know about]

looking forward to catching up with everyone next week. next week!

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July 4th, 2005


11:48 am - procrastinationationation
I've had a strange weekend. I was supposed to have finished the Guidebook/systems pathways stuff - ie to sit at the computer and type 300 pages of mindnummingly boring protocols all weekend. You would not believe the number of ways i can distract myself.

needless to say i havent finished!

the Long Rains are well and truely here. It poured solidly for 48hours. I stood under the verhanda of my doorway, bare feet wet, watching the rivers run off the corugated tin awening. The sky was purple. The light was weird. The mangos hanging in heavy bunches glowed golden-blush against the dark glossy greens in the courtyard. The baby banana palm looked meekly deluged, its base totally submerged & its branches sruggling to hold-up under such a drumming. The whole yard was flooded to my door. The Venice of africa.

My little house became an ark. A rather leaky ark. A rather noisy ark, what with the combined efforts of earthquake-like thunder, mangos that lost the will to hold on, and the constant pounding of the rain. I had to turn off the power and unplug the phone. The power surges fry everything. The air smelt electric.

It was all very distracting.

I packed (not strictly necessary yet...but excellent for avoiding work) I boiled tea on the gas-burner. I had a lovely text conversation with my Mum about Live-8 (they were showing Mali on TV!). I paddled to the beach and swam in the rain.

Today, the sun returned. Its nicer now the air is clear. Everywhere there are steaming puddles.

Today I need to do work. I must stop writing posts about puddles. I must stop thinking about virtual-posts on everything thats changed and everything i've learnt and everything i'm worried about.
I MUST DO WORK!!!!

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July 1st, 2005


12:20 pm - social things
proper update to follow, things are really crazy here.

after lots of hooha, it now looks like my flight is the night of the 17th, arriving monday morning.

not sure how its going to feel, being back. I thought i would just switch back effortlessly into who i used to be (after all i have spent so much time staying at the High Commission, which might as well be england, and its not like i have been living in a mud hut.) And yet...I've had emails from Rowan and Rosie, and i saw Joan & Sonia back from their home-holidays. All have told me not to underestimate the reverse-culture shock.

But I will flaunt this wise advise, and go clubbing the day i hit london *grin*

I am planning to be at Red Eye on Monday 18th July (is it still at ghetto?) Would love to see everyone...please come!

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June 27th, 2005


11:39 am - jetset&countdown
*arrgh* too. much. happening.

and the internet is playing up again. i cant get a home connection and the internet cafe is taking forrrrever. cant get into my email at all.

have low level panic about everything i need to fit in...to my last 2 weeks *flaps*

still havent booked my flight. they canceled the friday flight so its now tues 12 - WAY too early - or sunday 17th.

Rosie left Gambia on Sunday. There is a real feeling of closing-down-sale about our social group. Hannah &I saw her off in style tho, splashing out on a mother-treat. In a year of strange contrasts, last weekend takes gold. As the expat lifestyle sits oddly with development work, visiting the Museum of the Slave Trade & James island by jetski is one of the weirdest contrasts i can imagine. We shouldnt do it...its just so wrong, waving to ragged children on the jetty of a dirt-poor village before roaring off, bikini clad, in a shower of surf (&polution) jumping waves on a bucking jetski. But oh oh so much fun. So very Charlies Angels. Bad VSOs!

then there was the obligatory night out in Green Mambas, and then the trip to the airport. We are all getting quite sentimental. was deeply touched when Rosie said hanging out with Hannah & I was like having big sisters. snif.

On a totally different note, I did a Disabilities workshop today. I cant help feeling that, although socially i am ready to come home (& the scene's winding up), work-wise i am only just finding my stride. I have FINALLY got the networking up & running for a proper disability service, with people really beleiving in it...only to break it to them i am leaving. I felt for the fist time, that my work will genuinely be missed. and for a brief moment considered extending. it really does take a year to settle in.

The blood fridge is working well. The doctors handbook (systems pathways) is - who am i kidding - getting there (or it will with a few all-nighters). The database of west african services...well, you cant win them all.

much in my head. will keep a paper-journal and back post when i'm home.

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June 12th, 2005


06:16 pm - and then...disaster
back in an internet cafe whos keyboerd doesnt wok.

MY COMPUTER DIED :(

i took it to a flemish guy. its a virus apparently. oh, i know what tht means: we havent the foggiest. i do, after all, use that line myself. *g*
but can it be fixed domineck?

he is on-it.

woe woe woe.

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June 9th, 2005


10:10 pm - contribution
i made a man cry today.

in a good way.

The father sat in my neuro clinic in his koranic teacher's robes and cap. He had a lovely open life-worn face. He brought his 7 year old son with severe cerebral palsy, whos limbs &mouth moved in involuntary athetoid writhing arcs.
The diagnosis was easy from the doorway. I hoped he hadnt come for a miracle cure - it feels awful breaking that news no, no cure, not here, not even abroad.

But no one had ever told them the child's IQ was normal before.

The boy had the same bright black eyes as his dad, that looked directly and demanded contact.
I harrassed Mariama, my translator, into talking to the boy himself [running battle here: they think i'm mad talking to children. even 'normal' children. you would think i was a vet: please ask this cat where the pain is! Bless her, she is the best translator & most of the time i am pretty sure she says what i do...although i swear she has narcolepsy. No really: she falls asleep head on the desk when i am mid-sentance. ah Gambia!]

The lad was thrilled to be given test games. The excitement made his movements so violent he practically fell off the chair. But he managed them, with delight. I gave him a jumbo-marker pen and he could copy [huge shaky] shapes on paper. If you can copy, you can learn to write. I showed Dad how the pen-hand shaking stilled if his free hand was held. Make a desk with a post for him to hold onto

I said teach him the koran
The man cried great fat smiling tears and shook my hand in both of his. Then added his forehead for good measure.

It is so simple sometimes. when its not about MRI scans and drugs. when its not even about cure. The child is the same. *muses* It is a rare privilage to give someone hope. And oddly humbling, to do this by basically doing nothing but stating the plain facts.

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