As a break from the usual routine of getting on and off planes, I have had the luxury of a whole month in Senegal.
"Great!" I thought, "I'll finally have time to get to see some Senegalese wrestling, to spend a day with my maid shopping for ingredients and learning how to turn them into the national dish, Thie-bou-dienne (an upmarket fish-and-rice-and vegetable concoction), to go to the gym, to go to the market and buy some African fabrics to get some clothes made..." But no, my employers managed to find two extra projects for me to work on so I have shuttled between home and the office and had time for very little else.
So what I had hoped would be a really upbeat post about some of the great experiences of living in Dakar is not to be. Instead it is yet another sigh of frustration about the fact that everything here always BREAKS or FALLS APART.
For the last week my water heater has been heating away, night and day, acting like a giant radiator (which is not what you need when the average daily temperature now is around 36°C), but I have been too busy to get anyone in to fix it. Gradually though the wall next to the heater warmed up, the floor tiles beneath it warmed up, and finally the plant on the other side of the wall withered and died - so I knew that I would have to call someone today. But I was just too late. I went into the bathroom this morning to find it was not heating - and there was no hot water - and when I went to check that the power switch was on, I found the switch had melted...
Then this afternoon as I walked the hundred metres between offices I thought my shoes felt strange. I examined them when I got in, to find that the heels (of both) had come unstuck from the soles - I doubt I will make it home tonight before they fall off completely.
Oh, and if as the normal falling apart isn't good enough, the ants try to make it worse. They keep erupting into the house through little holes in the cement between the floor tiles. As soon as I pour boiling water down one and cover it with polyfilla they must start digging away again from their nest in the foundations, and sure enough another little hole appears somewhere else and up they come. Thankfully these are not the biting kind of ants, but I still don't like being woken up by one trying to get in my ear, as I was this morning.