Saturday, 23 August 2008

The Second Gambian Experience Part Five (Alive On Arrival)

Photo's from the top :-

Me in Cape Point Hotel pool.
Haddy in reception.
Me in my new shirt.

Great, we’ve got a sunny morning and the weather forecast says it’ll last most of the day so it’s up and out and let’s try Cape Point again after the bank and supermarket have been attended to.
I can relax by the poolside and just make a few notes while the world goes by outside and Haddy receives and replies to text after text on her mobile.
I kid you not, the bloody thing never stops pinging and there are times it drives me nuts…
Try having a conversation when about a dozen messages are coming in from different people… All of which need replies.
Whilst I would agree that it is a boon to use one on occasion, there are times when I would happily have all mobile phones bricked up in cement and sunk to the bottom of the ocean and Haddy has one of ‘those’ ‘phones.
First of all however, we need petrol for the car and oh no, not again…
The same beggar in the same position at the same garage and as soon as he sees the white face in the back he’s up and ready for action…
But he gets a little more than he bargained for when Haddy gets out and starts screaming at him.
I know from her attitude and general demeanor that this bloke has either said or implied something that maybe he shouldn’t have, and she’s really going for him and he’s backing up, backing off and making ready to run, then she’s off into the garage office to register a complaint with the manager about letting these wasters of people hang about when honest folk just want to go about their business in peace.
She gets back the usual condescension about how we should ‘give to the poor if we have it to give ?’ and after telling the bloke that she does not expect to be assailed by the same beggar everytime her car pulls onto the forecourt and so she knows that he has ‘rented’ the beggar his pitch, she gets back in the car… fuming.
Is it any different to our so called ‘Town Centre Manager’ back home doing fuck all about our professional beggar, Caroline.
That woman has been banned from Hitchin Market and from doing it in Letchworth where she lives.
Unfortunately, our local gutless Town Centre Manager just lets her carry on begging in Stevenage instead, but for some reason she doesn’t beg from council workers.
When I’m not in uniform however, she does, and gets unequivocably told to fuck off in no uncertain terms.
The actual phrase used is usually ‘Fuck Off ! I don’t give to professional beggars’ which is always said louder than needed to draw attention to the fact that the next person along is probably going to get caught out and it drives her nuts.
Still, if she didn’t beg and tip off the local druggies who used to hang about outside the local Drugsline office (since moved) that the police are in the vicinity, then I’m sure she could always get a job but that would probably mean coming off benefits and she couldn’t possibly do that, could she ?
It’s the same thing, just a different country and different circumstances.
Anyway, we’ve got fuel so we’re off again to the hotel where the doorman recognises us from last time and lets us in with a smile and a grin.
Haddy asks to see the manager again and I just hang around in reception ‘freaking out’ the tourists, until I’m called over also and down the corridor to the manager we go…
I like their manager.
He seems to know what he’s doing and I can appreciate that.
It’s his general attitude toward things and the way he sorts out small problems before they start becoming larger ones.
Still no internet access which is really getting me down as there are some things that I know will be on the system that will need replies but I can’t get on because Gamtel is still down for us plebs, but I get my pool ticket again and that’ll have to do right now because the sun is still out and the water looks inviting…
‘Tufa is going to pick us up at five pm or earlier if he gets the call which is all dependent upon the weather holding, but a day of doing absolutely nothing will probably do us both good so let’s get on with it…
Haddy’s ‘pinging’ ‘phone is turned off, to be turned on again every hour to check for messages (we’ve agreed) and we’re free…
It’s great.

We’re up and ready to go at four thirty so we head for reception and a coffee before ‘Tufa is due to appear to take us back to Fagikunda and as we do so the rain decides to pay us another visit and starts hammering down.
‘Tufa took the car out last night and nearly didn’t make it back.
The twins and Sainabou and a bunch of their friends were all off to a fashion show but it didn’t start until late and because I’m still wilting from two different viruses I’d decided not to go as they were due back some time after about four thirty am which is a bit late for me unless I’m fit and I’m undoubtedly not that so I gave it a miss.
We found out later that he’d had car trouble getting them all back hence this morning’s pit stop for petrol.
It’s five fifteen and we can’t reach ‘Tufa.
His ‘phone’s on answerphone and we have no idea what’s happening ?
Finally Haddy gets hold of him via one of the girls as the car has broken down half way to us in the pouring rain and he’s out of credit for his mobile.
He’ll have to stay with the car otherwise there will not be enough of it left to fill a matchbox in the morning and somehow get it fixed or towed back to the compound while we take a taxi from outside the hotel.
Oh well, no rush now, so let’s have another coffee and watch the new arrivals appearing…
The whole coach load seems to be either from the U.S.A. or Canada and they’re wet, pissed off as their flight was delayed, pissed off in general, or maybe they’re just plain grumpy…
They are also so fucking large that the word ‘obese’ doesn’t even come close…
They are enormous…
Bloody gigantic.
How the hell do these sized people fit in aeroplane seats ?
One of the things I really like about my ‘odd’ apparel (basically the bandana) is the fact that I can just be normal and look weird…
And this lot seem to be a little ‘weirded out’ by the pair of us.
Maybe they’re just not used to freaks sitting in reception ?
Haddy looks normal so I guess it must be me, then ?
And when the manager comes out to placate a couple of the more vociferous moaners and asks us if we’re ok, I make a joke about cashing my travellers cheques if we have to stay there any longer (You can’t unless you’re a resident, remember ?) he laughs, causing even more frowns to appear on the faces of the newcomers.
What is it with this lot… They seem to think they own the world and anything not in their image is to be avoided or complained about at all costs ?
I’m at least half your weight and I don’t look like I’ve swallowed a hippopotamus which unfortunately most of them did and I don’t dress like a tourist…
So what’s your big fucking problem ?
What was it that Oscar Wilde said ?
‘The only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about…’
Aaaah, I can’t be arsed !
This lot are just bloody rude.
Pig ignorant is the expression I would normally use so let’s use it here and just for a change I’ll drop the combativeness I usually face that crap with, and let’s just get a taxi and go…
After all, if we come back again we could probably piss ‘em off even more just for reminding them we exist.
Three hundred and fifty dalasis to get us back home and we see our broken down car on the way.
Apparently the battery is dead but anybody ‘Tufa asks for a tow is seriously trying to gouge the poor bloke and he’s getting a bit despondent.
Finally one of the local taxi drivers says he can probably help by constantly changing batteries for the two mile trip which he does, and is suitably rewarded for his trouble.
We’ve got the car back (along with a very soggy ‘Tufa) but it’s not working which does put us in a bit of a quandary, but things could be worse…
It could be snowing.

You know what ?
We get back and my shirt has been delivered by the tailor's and it looks pretty good even if I do say so myself.

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