As I sit here and write, I should be snivelling into my socks. No, wait – it’s far too hot (42C!) here in Mali to be wearing socks. Snivelling into my flip-flops will have to suffice. Right now, I should be jumping into a car and driving to Johannesburg airport – but you just said you were in Mali…? My point exactly. I shouldn’t even be in Mali or South Africa! I should be, along with my husband, en route to the tropical island getaway that is the Seychelles, –say what?
As luck would have it, or otherwise, we booked – not even two weeks ago, a 1-week holiday to the Seychelles. We have just had to cancel it because of an unexpected development at work. This is, most definitely, the least pleasing aspect of my job. Planning, or the lack thereof, and having to drop everything when the supplier of the ever-elusive drill rig says “your rig will be on site – on Saturday”, has totally not made my month. They originally said we wouldn’t have chance in hell of seeing it before May, perhaps the end of April if we’re really lucky. LUCKY? Bah.
The only reason we thought we could treat ourselves to a holiday in such a glamorous destination was because for the entire duration we are in Mali, ~2-4 months at a time, we hardly spend a thing. No weekly magazines. No ice cream. No trips to the cinema. No random shopping expeditions to throw money at. Here, there isn’t an awful lot to be spending your money on. Our biggest expense is our beer habit. Between myself and my husband, we think we are doing our bit to keep the local beer company’s profit margin looking healthy. 🙂
Now, like I said, I should be snivelling. Instead I am not. I am trying, really trying, to be stoic about all of this. On a scale of 1-10, my disappointment is still immeasurable. However, in the face of 100% cancellations fees across the board (hotel, flights etc) we are sending my parents-in-law on a holiday of a life-time. This is most definitely a much better feeling to be having than merely snivelling. This also appeals to my Scottish-ness. Being a Scot, I cannot abide the waste of money. As me and as a Scot, I cannot abide the waste of money, especially when that money was meant to fund travelling to beautiful destinations. I’d rather see someone else, at the very least, making the most of what could have been a bad situation. I once read somewhere that there is a Canadian saying “Use it up, wear it out, make it work, or do without” (or words to that effect). I can only think this kind of saying has its roots firmly planted in Scotland. We’re tight with our pennies. Really tight.
We’ve made it work, though. I do feel better. So, all in all, that is a good thing.
So this all begs the question: – “what fun awaits me for the coming couple of weeks as an alternative?” Well, early doors on Saturday morning, my husband and I shall be departing for the field. For 10 days to maybe a full 2 weeks, we shall be based in an even more remote location than Bamako, Mali. We shall be in the “middle-of-nowhere”, Mali. Cell phone reception is tenuous. Internet connection is non-existent. Water is on tap, but electricity is generator based. It is basic. It is rustic. Charming is not an adjective I would choose to describe it, ever. However, all is not lost. I have downloaded a pile of RSS feeds from lots of photography blogs, whose tips and tricks have inspired me to greater photographic endeavours. I can recharge my laptop. I can recharge my camera. I can carry on editing photographs from the last 20 years. I can carry on editing the photographs that I will take in the next couple of weeks. It’s all about making the most of what you have got. All is most definitely NOT lost.
Many of you out there reading this, will perhaps never get to experience the experience of Africa. I sometimes take it for granted. I “semi-grated” from the UK to South Africa over 14 years ago. It was, originally, a 2-year plan. I have a love-hate relationship with Africa. I love it because the people are the most generous, even when there is nothing to be generous with. It’s their smiles, their warmth, their welcoming attitudes. It’s the little kids that try to out-run you in your vehicle as you amble along the dirt tracks, screaming “Toubabou, Toubabou!”, which in the local Bambaran language basically translates into “European, European!”. I hate it because the luxuries that we are used to taking for granted are not there and it makes me feel shallow and materialistic. It smells, it stinks. It’s dusty, it’s hot. There are mosquitoes, there is Malaria. It’s not for sissies. Sometimes, I can be a real sissy and think that “Africa SUCKS”, but, at the end of the day it is an experience that I should never, ever take for granted.
I hope that in the next couple of weeks I can capture some of this and bring it to you in the form of future posts. I make no promises, as nothing can be foreseen or even absolutely planned (you may have figured that one out already!). For now though, I shall be very quiet on the blogging & commenting front. As I mentioned above there is no internet connection. Please don’t think I’m ignoring any comments. I’m just going into “whisper mode”.. Until next time..