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Trials & Tribulations in The Gambia

We are taking a little jump in our blog today from the sequence of my life we have been following to an incident many years later. I happened to remember this funny incident the other day and thought I would share it with you now.

In the early 2000’s I was honoured to be asked to go along with five others to a small West African country called The Gambia on a project to introduce teachers of schools and colleges to an advanced educational technology.* I was happy to help and as part of a team, I headed off to Africa. The temperature was over 40 degrees and we had to take plenty of protection against mosquitoes, dehydration and food poisoning.

As the first seminar to four hundred teachers approached, I was receiving the final training. Unfortunately, I got a thumping headache and felt like I was going to throw-up at any moment thanks to some food poisoning.

It got to a critical point where I had to drop everything and make a mad dash to the toilet. There I just about managed to stop myself from passing out. I brought up all I had eaten over the last couple of days until there was nothing left in me. Finally, the drama was over leaving me exhaustedly and slumped on the floor.

After only a few minutes with the poison out of my stomach I began to feel a lot better. There was a shower there luckily, which I made use of and somewhere in the middle of that my headache vanished and I started to feel miraculously revitalized.

I quickly got myself together and re-joined the team. Not knowing what had happened, the person in charge was angry with me for wasting time. All I could do was laugh! 

We were there for just over a week, and a very productive one it was! The things I will always remember were it being hot enough to heat up hell, the endless hungry mosquitoes, and how due to the ongoing problem of our digesting such different foods, there were sudden races to one of only two toilets. The winner locking the door before the loser could desperately burst in.

Of course, the best memory is the one of wonderfully willing teachers who so wanted to help their students. Finally, there’s nothing like going through a right old tough time together and coming out the other side with success to bring a group close together. I for one will always remember each and every member of that group with fond and funny memories.

I’ve used some of what I went through there as food for my stories. After all, life is sometimes stranger and funnier than most anything a writer can imagine.

*The technology mentioned and project was run by Applied Scholastics.