Sunday, December 31, 2006

Hotel Djenné Djenno is ready to receive the New Years guests- the first couple has already come, but I have escaped for a moment and left Beigna (above) in charge.
The sun is obscured by dust and the Harmattan, the desert wind, sweeps around the hotel, which lies exposed on the plain and has not yet been given proper surface to protect from the dust. Tonight I think I will put all the 14-16 guests in the reception on a long table with candles. We will close the windows and dine there. It will be protected from the wind and cosy.
So, I must rush back. The Beast is about to be unchained again... (the beast is the Full Hotel).
I will cycle back in a minute repeating to myself: it is FUN to be a hotelière. I LOVE being a hotelière. It is FUN being a..... Posted by Picasa
I have spent a lot of money with Craven, the proprietor of the Djenné hardware store. On Christmas day he arrived witha cage housing two green birds as a present! I think they are parrots- they are much bigger than budgerigars. Anyway one of them escapes all the time and hides in the pawpaw plantation. Ibrahim the gardener spends all day looking for him... Posted by Picasa
yesterday there was only a nice Canadian couple in the Tamachek room, so I was less stressed and actually even had time to check my little plant nursery. And look at the little tender greenery in the asparagus pots to the right, Cressida! The other pots are dill and aniseed. Posted by Picasa

Thursday, December 28, 2006

A belated Merry Christmas from Hotel Djenné Djenno! At midnight on Christmas eve the above group of jolly American peace Corps volunteers arrived, seeking a room for the night, because there was no room at the inns in town. Fortunately I didn't need to put them in a stable with a crib but I was able to offer them the Malinke suite, the last accommodation available.

But being a hotelière is a rather overwhelming experience. I feel as if I had been hit by a tsunami, or as if a huge untamed wild animal had arrived on the forecourt of the hotel, overturning everything and demanding total and devoted attention 24 hours a day. Now I have to tame this animal, and it will take some strength and calm and concentration. There are problems, but everyone has had a good time, and all the guests have left satisfied and telling me they had a really lovely time in a very beautiful location: what more can I ask?
And I have a new chef: Papa arrived yesterday and he will be good. He made lovely crisp and dry chips and grilled chicken for me an Keita last night- we are both totally wiped out, but happy. I will try and write soon....! Posted by Picasa
Finally the rooms were ready to receive our Christmas visitors: here is a glimpse of the Saurai suite. We were full for both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. I am too busy even to open all my emails from my friends! But thanks, I will read them very soon! Posted by Picasa
The work to finish everything carried on until the small ours of the 23rd- here is Mohammed painting the bar late at night Posted by Picasa
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On the 21st of December Monsigneur Fonghoro, the bishop of Mopti, arrived with a delegation to give an inaugural mass and to bless the hotel here he is sprinkling the rooms and ground with holy water. We had lunch in the reception, because the workers were still hard at it, pouring the concrete for the terrace etc... But Monsigneur made sure he blessed them too on his round! Posted by Picasa

Saturday, December 23, 2006

djenne djenno

But too busy to even be able to put in a photograph of the nice
French couple and their children who spent the night in the Bambara and the Bozo rooms. Somewhat in a pickle: MY CHEF has decided to let me down and is not coming for Christmas as agreed!!! Alors you will understand that the blogging will be somewhat sporadic for the next few days. Just in case I have no time to write: Happy Christmas from Hotel Djenne Djenno!

Monday, December 18, 2006

We are fully booked for Christmas Day! And above is Christmas dinner, which I bought this morning in the sheep market- that is to say I had someone else buy him, because a woman doesn't buy sheep here- it is not done. I was too busy to argue with this silly tradition and let my friend Pygme go and do the deed for me. Posted by Picasa
Fatu the sou-chef started working today, and we went to the market together. Here she is, to the left, negociating the price of tamarind. Posted by Picasa

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Have had a very exotic and African day, starting this morning with a trip to a small village in the neighbourhood to meet the above cool cats, and to audition them for a performance at Hotel Djenné Djenno on Christmas Day.
West Africa is amazing.
These guys are the 'singing men', or 'minstrels' of the hunters of their village. That means that they sing and play the kora, celebrating the prowess of the hunters. This has absolutely nothing to do with tourism of course, but they have agreed to come and sing and perform- I can't decide if I want the whole lot of them- including the hunters themselves who will shoot blanks with their rifles into the air while these guys above circle around them, singing and playing... could be splendid. They sound amazing- just wait until some musician friends of mine come out and play with them! Ry Cooder and Ali Farka Touré eat yer heart out... Posted by Picasa
yet more bogolans were washed by the Bani crossing this afternoon, Posted by Picasa
and when I left the site tonight and pedalled across the little bridge that leads in to Djenné I noticed, with immense pleasure, that Baji, my potter, has lit her pyre, where the last bathroom sinks are being cooked, ready for installing tomorrow. Posted by Picasa

Friday, December 15, 2006

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Yelfa is a marabout who lives next door. An islamic holy man, well versed in the mysteries of the Koran. That doesn't prevent him from getting involved in business however, and he runs a little shop where one buys the articles of day-to-day existance: soap powder, sardines and mosquito repellent coils. It is a humble establishment measuring no more than 2x2m, but it does have a fridge/freezer ; the same type as the ones I have bought for the hotel as a matter of fact, of Algerian manufacture and no doubt spiritred across the border by some enterprising tuareg.
And what do I find nestling on the bottom shelf of this fridge? FRENCH BUTTER if you please!
And not out of date, nor damaged. Real French butter at 500 FCFA a packet! (cheaper than England at just over 50p) That is 300 francs cheaper than the butter sold by that fat Lebanese trader in Mopti who sells to all the toubab hotels.
I have now made a deal with Yelfa, who will be my purveyor of finest pasteurised toubab butter. God only knows how he gets hold of it...Have ordered 50 packets which will be delivered on Sunday. And do not fear, dear potential visitors. I have eaten this butter for three weeks and I am well and flourishing. Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Tomorrow it will be just a week before Hotel Djenné Djenno is officially open. In two weeks time my Christmas guests will already be leaving. But today the site was still just as usual, full of workmen, and full of wheel barrows and mud. But the clearing up has begun. Something major is about to happen- a change of state.
In just over a week I will no longer be building a hotel, it will actually exist, and I will be running a hotel. My reality is about to change. Today I looked at all the space of the hotel which is about to be born. I thought of all the unknown things which will happen in this space, and which are now resting here like embryos. It is all about to begin to unfold. I thought of all the people who will one day come here, and laugh, have fun and make love here, although today they don’t even know it. And yet, by some mysterious workings they will come here ...
So Maestro, soon soon, let the play begin... Posted by Picasa

Monday, December 11, 2006

Linguistic delights of Bambara:
Apropos ornitologists (see entry a couple of days ago) a migratory bird in Bambara is a 'dugu dugu'. If someone is interferring with one's mobile phone, that person is exercising the verb 'digi digi'. And 'dege dege' I believe to be a ground nut sauce. But I may have got it all wrong...I normally do. Posted by Picasa

Sunday, December 10, 2006

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Nearly finished the signs today: one for the turning off the main road, one 300 m. before the turning.
Not much time for reflection and thoughtful blogging at the moment, alas... must rush....! Posted by Picasa

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Adamo the carpenter has finished my dining chairs. Posted by Picasa
My plumber and my potter proudly presented me with their combined efforts this afternoon- the sinks in Hotel Djenné Djenno! Posted by Picasa
Spent last night at the Campement drinking beer in the company of a couple of jolly Swedish Ornitologists. They were seeking the species of migrating birds who spend the summer in Sweden, and move here for the winter, and they were filming for a documentary on Swedish TV. They had found lots of birds with Swedish marking rings in the Niger inland Delta- a very good bird watching destination apparently. Posted by Picasa

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Have had a most illogical and trying day. Spent the morning being angry with Ibrahim the gardener because he persists in planting things in straight lines, although I want it en dèsordre. (see below). Then, this evening I continued being angry, but this time with the electrician for NOT putting things in straight lines! My friend the Cuban doctor Jaqueline has the answer- I simply have to exchange the gardener for the electrician and all should be well...Anyway, off to the Campement for a beer with my new friend, the Peace Corps volunteer Brandy. Posted by Picasa
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My jolly band of carpenters have finished the dining tables, which will be delivered tonight. Posted by Picasa