Scott and I found an apartment! Woohoo… the only catch is that we had to go way above our expected budget, but hopefully it will be worth it in the end. Our new place is on the 12th floor of an apartment complex and has a pool and gym (shared by the rest of the building of course!). Some of you are going to re-read that last line again, I’m sure, especially if you were under the impression that we would be roughing it here. But like any capital in Africa, you can find all the luxuries you would in Canada (however, you have to pay a hefty price for it).
We got the keys for our place last night, and after getting it cleaned, we should be able to move in today. For those of you who have never been to a developing country with a strong informal economy, you should know that you can really buy anything on the side of the road/dalla dalla/train here. People will walk around with coat hangers, buttons, shoes, watches, a coat rack, dress shirts, whatever… anything that people might want to buy while waiting in traffic, walking around, or eating dinner. You might think that is inefficient, but a perfect example of this was last night when I wanted to buy some sheets for my new bed. It wasn’t 10 minutes after we sat down to have a bite to eat that someone came up to our table and asked if I wanted to buy bed sheets. And I bought some… AND proved that there is a demand for bed sheets at 8 o’clock at night at a restaurant. It was really quite amazing and not to mention, unnecessarily convenient. It is something that you come to depend on too. I remember when I came home from Accra to Ottawa a few years ago, it really irritated me that I couldn’t buy a snack or drink from the window of the bus.
But enough about that. Work is also going well. I have been given some key tasks, and am really fitting in with my new supervisor. He invited me over to his place last Sunday to meet his wife and children. His wife bought be a beautiful pair of local shoes and he made me some really tasty Gambian tea. Everyone treats you like you are part of a family here, which I couldn’t be happier about.
I have my own office now and yesterday they threw this big birthday party for all of us with October birthdays. It was really sweet to see everyone in the office come out and sing us happy birthday (twice, and then in Swahili). They even made us feed cake to each other, which as you can see in the picture below, I was a bit hesitant.