Thursday, 24 February 2011


We could see the clouds massing and the sky growing an ever deeper shade of grey – but this is the heart of the dry season! It is not supposed to rain until late March or April, but it has. We had carried on walking  from work to the vegetable kiosk, regardless of the few dollops of rain that were spattering the dust – and then the heavens opened. We took refuge inside among the peppers and pineapples. Squalls of water poured through the chicken wire walls, blowing the fruit off the shelves. The temperature must have fallen fifteen degrees in the space of two minutes. The two young men who would have served us , were far too busy trying to fix sacking over the mesh walls and failing completely.  Soon the water that was pouring down the shallow ditch outside, overflowed  into the kiosk and we found ourselves ankle deep. The actual storm drains seemed to be largely ineffective, clogged by months-worth of garbage.
Traffic  suddenly disappeared – only the occasional okada driver, desperate for a fare.
I decided to make a bolt for it and dashed through the storm- soaked in seconds! ‘I might as well enjoy it,’ I thought .  I couldn’t be any wetter  so my run eased into a brisk walk. 
Old Cemetry Road had turned into a river, a swirling, turgid stream of brown, debris-laden water pouring from the cemetery end of the road, eroding or reclaiming a channel that writhed and twisted ,  eventually cascading  into a roadside ditch.
Nobody else was about – nobody shouting ‘oyibo’ at me, no vehicles ‘horning’ me, no goats, dogs or hens to stumble over – just me and the sound of the rain battering on the tin roofs and lashing what is left of ‘our’ tree. Nobody hammering of car parts into place, no wood chopping – just my feet slopping and squelching against the river flow, avoiding the larger and more unsavoury items of debris that were floating past.
When I reached home and pushed open the noisy, steel compound gate, even the  giant padlock clanged mournfully  as the deluge continued.
Ten minutes or so later and equally drenched, Caroline caught up with me, clutching a bag of veggies that she had no doubt acquired at a knock-down price.
Half an hour later the rain eased, leaving the air a lot cooler – a familiar freshness that summer rains back home used to bring, but if this is what one storm does to our road, what must the real rainy season itself be like?  – and we have a ground floor flat – oooooer!.
No NEPA!  We got out of our wet clothes and into cooking the tea by candle light – some things don’t change!

Friday, 18 February 2011

My Inaugural Workshop!


Well, it’s finally happened: I got a workshop done yesterday only four months later than expected! My training programme is at last up and running!
I wasn’t quite ready for it though – a two-hour spin- crunching ride over potholes which in the wet season  you could bathe in (should you have a death wish!), crammed into a bus alongside a legal student, i.e.: a student of law,  who was himself cramming for a forthcoming exam – looked deadly – the reading material, I mean, not the student – though he clearly didn’t want me to disturb him with idle chat about trivia or even LFC!
Eventually I was met by two corpers from the school who had got a lift into town. The driver had not thought we might like a lift back to school and drove off. So my journey continued with a roller-coaster ride through the back streets, lanes, tracks and fields of Offa to get to Moremi High School. There had been rain and my okada driver, who may have had riding tuition from Evil Kinevil, was heedless of puddles or the possibility of sliding off the track into an oncoming goat. Some puddles stretched right across the road  and there was no telling how deep they were or what lay at the bottom of them – perhaps another foolhardy VSO and an assortment of broken motorcycle parts! And this from just one short, out-of-season storm two days ago! Can’t wait till the wet season starts!
So with only minor additional red stains to my already red-stained socks and trouser legs, we pulled into the shady green school campus, narrowly missing a tree as we wove a course through the spiky grass in search of the head teacher’s office.
My young and heedless driver (perhaps someone should have taught him some ‘heed’!) tore off again. I had been warned about these guys – the older drivers are much safer – more brittle-boned , possibly – or just more experienced, with the bruises, scars , dislocated limbs  and bent front forks to prove it!
By now I was looking forward to a couple of hours’ recovery before thinking about setting up my workshop – more fool me!  The school had arranged for me to start within the half hour so they could all go home as usual at 2pm. The kids’ lessons had been cancelled!  They had also mobilised teachers from surrounding schools to take part but had not thought to let me in on this dastardly plan, so I was woefully short of materials and resources by the time everybody assembled. I think I had managed a gulp or two of water before we began but not enough to prevent my mouth feeling like a lizards armpit. But we got through it – ‘flexibility’ has become my middle name – one of several that includes ‘oyibo’, ‘trekking man’ and, I suspect ‘he-with the red-stained-trousers’ and ‘mug’.
My presentation seemed to go down well and they appreciated the activities I had prepared for them, and, more so, I think, the fluffy donut balls made for them by the Home Economics staff.
I arrived back at the ranch shaken and disturbed as usual to discover that tomorrow’s VSO presentation at Oro – the one we had worked hard late into the night to get ready on time -  had been postponed – the lecturers are all on strike!
C’est la vie!