Whilst the saga of the suitcase was still ongoing, I managed a quick trip to Europe. The UK was mostly administrative (dentist, vaccinations, bank, letting agent, etc) although I did get to visit my Dad and his family on the Isle of Wight for a couple of days. After I had arranged the dates (and ordered train tickets) for that trip my current favourite musicians, Bassekou Kouyate and Ngoni Ba, decided to announce a concert in London for one of the days I was away. Of course I was not going to cancel a visit to my Dad for a concert, but it was hugely frustrating as I have been trying and failing for two years now to see them play live. However, I was to get my reward as they played in Dakar last week (and were excellent – worth the wait!).
I also had a four-day holiday in Vienna, to visit my friends Janette and Axel. This was my first time in Vienna, and I was very impressed. There is so much interesting architecture, both old and new, classical and modern, as well as a lot of greenery around the outskirts of the city. I spent a lot of time walking – from sites as varied as palaces to vineyards – and also spent an evening at the ballet (a superb performance of Onegin) which was such a treat as there is no such ‘high-end’ culture here in West Africa. I even put on some mascara and lipstick for the occasion, something I haven’t done since I moved out to Senegal!
My favourite sites in Vienna had to be the Hundertwasser buildings. This is a photo of a waste incineration plant he designed. I’m not generally into bright colours, but this just works so well – and his residential buildings are wonderfully curvy and organic, not dissimilar to some of Gaudi’s designs.
Back in Dakar the hot humid weather continues. Everyone is on a short fuse, as shown by the behaviour of the mobs who attacked some of the state electricity company’s offices a couple of weeks ago. The power cuts get worse and worse, not just that they are frequent but also because they are so unpredictable. When the power goes you never know whether it will be off for hours or whether it will be back on again in five minutes – and if it does come back on it could just as likely go again ten minutes later. A day after those attacks the national football team could only draw at home to The Gambia, thus failing to qualify for the next round of some competition – and the result again was a rampaging mob, this time destroying the offices of the national football federation and throwing rocks at passers-by. I will be glad when the winds change, bringing dry weather in off the desert – that should ease tensions a little.