Saturday. My first day. We were woken up by our neighbours cockerels, followed by the morning prayer, still being dark outside. Soon after an incredible variety of birdsongs set in with the first rays of sun. And the morning sun shines right into our bedroom window. What a nice way to start the day!
Our house is part of a little gated compound on the edge of the village, consisting of two bungalows. There are palm and mango trees in the background peaking up behind the wall. The plots to both sides are not built on and full of vegetation that seems to be home to a lot of birds.
We share this compound with a young man called ‘Obama’ – he has named himself in appreciation of the famous one. He lives in the other bungalow and is looking after us and the compound. The boys are already very fond of him, Dan tells me how much of a help he has been during these past couple of days.
Our house is spacious and furnished with the minimum necessary. We have a living room, two bedrooms with a bathroom each and a kitchen, that is yet to be fitted. In the meantime we are using the kitchen in the other bungalow, which seems to be working well as we are eating outside on the adjacent terrace. All is made to keep the heat out, the windows are small and the floors tiled. The house is not pretty, but it is a home with everything we need and I am very much looking forward to make it comfortable!
After a lot of excitement showing me the compound, the boys wanted to show me the village, so off we went for a little walk into Kartong. The sandy road goes past other family compounds filled with life and laughter. Goats, chicken and stray dogs are walking around as much as children of all ages. There is a beautiful square with large mango trees, where children are playing and animals feed off the rubbish dump. We even met some pigs there. Waste of all kind is lying around everywhere, which is so sad to see. There is no waste collection or system, everyone seems to be disposing their rubbish outside their own compound. No square meter without plastic of all colours. We are both wondering if a waste disposal system is something we could help to initiate in some way or if there would be some way our time here might be usefully spent.
Obama said that occasionally there are waste cleaning days where the whole village is helping to clear it up and burn it. But it fills up again and it looks like it hasn’t happened for a while.
Everyone we pass is very friendly and welcoming. The children in the village are calling Oskar ‘Mbappé’ as he was walking around in his football shirt when he first arrived.
The main road going through the village is tarmacked and lined with small shops of all kinds. The little covered market and some individual stalls are selling local produce. All houses in the village are single-storey and made of rendered concrete blocks, the roofs are mainly corrugated metal. Some windows have glass panes, some don’t. Compound walls are raw blocks or fences made of rind or palm leaves. The plots are filled with banana, papaya and orange trees, shining lush green in contrast to the sandy ground and the faint colours of the buildings.
Walking through the village with Obama is really amusing because he knows absolutely everybody and everybody knows him and everybody seems to be very fond of him. From all angles you can hear „Obama! Obama!!“. We really couldn’t have a better guide.
In the afternoon we went to see the final of the Gambian Football Cup in a small town nearby. Kartong’s local team The White Crocs managed to reach the final.
Although in the end they lost, it has been fun and interesting to watch. What a full first day for me!