|“URBAN FOREST” is the tighter view from my apartment. Noon shot, still too bright!
I’m now sleeping from 9 at night until 6:30 or so each morning, with the window open and a blanket. I get up to birds singing and the cooing of a mourning dove just like most mornings in The Gambia. A warm shower under that wonderful big shower head and on to my breakfast with the views out the front window. Then I take a cup of tea or coffee out front and watch birds fly over and sometimes chat with a neighbor. Even though there are some management/maintenance issues here (like we had at McKendree), I doubt I can find a better location and view anywhere for the price, so I may be here a good while. We will see how the move upstairs works out and the broken a/c.
Yesterday morning by 8:30 I walk to the closest Super Mercado, Coopeatenas, for a few items I carry in my backpack. (Sometimes I carry an extra grocery bag or two. They are much stronger here because so many walk). Yep! It was New Year’s Day, few were at the market that early and I sat in their outdoor cafe with a cup of cafe negro and a pastry or piece of cake which was so delicious! My first coffee since arriving. While sick I drank only tea in morning.
This morning after the breakfast & usual front yard experience, a new neighbor couple from Canada, Gary & Carmella, said they were going to get a chip in their phone which is exactly what I had set as my goal for today. I walked with them to ICE where you go through security to get in, take number to be served and wait. Today they had only one agent who spoke English, so I had to get passed from one to her. Then in just a few minutes (with my passport), a new sim card and Kolbi phone service, the biggest service company here (government run). My phone number is 506-8410-9916. The country code is the 506. It only cost $2 to set up my service and I just have to buy minutes as needed, which can be done at all super markets and many little shops. I will mainly use it when I need to call a cab or occasionally set up an appointment or get information. It will not control me. But I can still use Google Calendar when I have wifi service like in the apartment and yes, text messages too! Not sure what international calls will cost, but I have Skype for that. I just learned that I can recharge my phone online & just did. Check!
Then for mid-morning relaxation (Gary & Carmella had errands to run) I walked around the central park by the big church and checked out La Carretta, a restaurant I had been reading about. They serve all three meals daily, but are known for their free lending library set up by an expat couple from Florida. I went in for a fruit empanada and a cup of coffee. Nice again! Then I walk around the different rooms (an old house) to see all the books that are free for the taking and you don’t even have to sign them out. It is an honor system. One room of Spanish books, two of English books plus one room of children’s books. Then what was really neat is that the sponsoring couple were there, Linda & Bruce, and I got to visit with them for awhile. He was measuring for some more shelves in the Spanish Room that he will build. The restaurant also has local art work hanging on the walls. It will become one of my hangouts.
I also checked out the Three Sisters Soda at the Bus Station Mercado (recommended by a neighbor) where I will eat a casada (plate lunch) for lunch some day, but it was too early this morning. I have already stopped at the Pops Ice Cream on another day at one corner of the park and will eventually try Gelly’s Jardin which is a gelato place I think. And still haven’t just sat on a park bench in the central park. Some towns call this their central plaza, but not here. They call it “Central Park.” I’m learning! Like Coopeatenas Super Mercado is just called “The Coop” or “El Coope.”
Walked back to apartment for lunch. I made a big Dagwood Ham Sandwich on whole grain bread with fresh lettuce, tomato and onion. Then fresh pineapple and papaya for desert. This is living! While writing I have been watching a big pot of veggie soup cook with all fresh vegetables I got from the farmer who drives up to the apartments once a week. Easier than going to the big farmers’ market which has moved out of downtown. I have no recipe and haven’t made soup in more than 20 years but I just tasted it and think it’s pretty good! Thank goodness for those little jars of mixed herbs you can get even here! 🙂 Today’s soup will last several meals beyond dinner and was made of potatoes, carrots, celery, onions, red bell peppers, and a little cucumber which may have never been included before, but I have ’em and like ’em in anything!
PARDON the long, post today! But I think some of you are interested in daily life here and this is some of it. Of course I did not mention that I listened to a Spanish CD during lunch and that I’m about to do my daily Babbel Online Spanish Class and that I’m of course on computer typing this! Plus I have found a local Spanish class, Su Espacio, which I will enroll in Monday morning along with at least one neighbor in the apartments, Jean Pierre, who will be in his second class there. Adios! Buenos noches!